One of the fundamental reasons why the BBC is considered to be a global leader in terms of quality programming is its historical adherence to certain standards set out by Lord Reith during his tenure as Director General of the BBC in the 1930’s.
Wikipedia describes ‘Reithianism’ as requiring programmes to “include an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service. It can be distinguished from the free-market approach to broadcasting, where programming aims to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues, ahead of – and, in practice, often contrary to – any artistic merit, impartiality, educative or entertainment values, that a programme may have.”
Unfortunately in recent years various parts of the BBC have decided that chasing large audiences necessitates broadcasting at the level of the lowest common denominator and have apparently eschewed these core principles. Having joined their independent broadcasting competitors in a race to the bottom has meant that we have come to expect having to listen to the crass and the foolish because, well, “everyone has a right to be heard”.
The callers to daytime radio phone-in shows are depressingly stereotypical and are notorious for their apparent stupidity and extreme views. Today listeners to Radio 5 Live’s morning call in show entitled, rather unimaginatively, ‘Your Call’ were treated to a series of ill-informed reactionary members of the public ranting, yet again, about welfare scroungers.
As with any professional call-in programme Your Call screens its callers before allowing them to vent their spleen live on air. So how do they explain the number of idiots for whom they offer a national platform. One caller today, ‘Matt’ (given what he said he was well advised to use a pseudonym) from York, represents the worst element of what I have come to describe as the ‘Daily Mail Brit’. Like the opinion sheet after which this group has been named, a typical DMB is ill-informed, illogical and lacks empathy.
Audio © BBC
If you are unable to view the youtube clip you will find the links to both a clip of Matt’s stint on air where he ‘debated’ with Stephen Timms (followed by a final numpty named Derek from the end of the show) and a further link to the full hour-long episode via BBC iPlayer here: Clip: http://t.co/7KiOzXMq0L / Whole episode: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036vyhn
In his cack handed attempt to debate with Labour MP Stephen Timms about the welfare cap Matt expressed his ire even though it was clear from the outset that his opinion was formed without the bother of having to waste time researching any objective facts.
I wonder what parts of the Reithian principles allowing the foolish to vent on national radio addresses? I am sure that Matt made other listeners angry but just because there are lots of irate ill-informed people in the general population doesn’t mean that they should have a national broadcasting platform.
Lord Reith must be spinning in his grave.
- *A note for lawyers:
For the purposes of the government’s use of statistics my definition of a lie is when in full knowledge that the official figures demonstrate a certain version of the situation, government minister’s suggest the data shows something completely different. It is my view and that of many others that IDS and Grant Schapps in particular are guilty of misrepresenting data about the effects of government policy in recent months. These widely reported misrepresentations are in most objective commentators assessment “unethical”. IMHO, they are dishonest and morally indistinguishable from lies. On that basis Iain Duncan Smith, Grant Schapps and others have been repeatedly guilty of lying to the British public. Their lies have been reported ad nauseam in the media and it is clear from various phone-in shows and other sources of public opinion that these government lies have been widely accepted as true honest statistics.
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