It is stating the blooming obvious but the British Broadcasting Corporation is exactly what it’s title says it is. It is the media organ of the British state.
We should not expect it to be fair or impartial. We should not expect it to be balanced. Its purpose is to protect and promote the interests of Britain and the powers that control the assets, resources and governance of that construct of once disparate, now once more becoming increasingly disparate, countries.
We shouldn’t be surprised or particularly outraged about this fact. That’s how it is, that’s how it has always been since its creation. Until Scotland returns to its rightful state of independence and establishes its own public broadcasting service that is how it will continue. Anything we do won’t change the BBC.
The sitting British government of the time selects the Chair of the Board of Governors of the BBC. That board itself is heavily influenced by a membership of corporate and City power holders within the British state, and they appoint a Director General (CEO) to run the corporation. How could they be anything else but weighted and biased towards their own self-interests?
Up until a couple of years ago the BBC World Service was openly funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is still funded by them but now through a Grant-in-Aid scheme which doesn’t make the funding source seem so obvious.
A challenge for us, as advocates of self-government for Scotland, is not to change the BBC, it is to convince more of our family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances that what they access on the BBC news site, or hear on Radio Scotland or watch on the TV news and current affairs shows might not necessary be 100% correct, factually or contextually. We must continue to sow an element of doubt, to encourage others to look a bit closer at what it is they are being presented with, to research and establish the facts themselves, (don’t take our word for it alone) rather than accept what, in some cases, is clearly state propaganda.
The BBC has long-established vetting processes, the infamous ‘Christmas tree’ annotation on employees personnel files if they were considered not to be of the ‘right sort’, which was dropped in the mid 1980’s because it had become known about in employee circles, being just one example of keeping out those who might engender change, and channelling and promoting those with values and opinions which concur with the protection of the establishment view.
This employment culture leads to self-censoring, consciously and sometimes unconsciously, always promoting one side of a story, the side which validates the status quo all the way up the line.
The BBC’s Andrew Marr, in an interview with the noted philosopher, historian and political activist Noam Chomsky, once quizzed Chomsky on this point.”How can you know that I’m self- censoring. How can you know that journalists are?”
Chomsky replied ” I’m not saying you are self censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”
Much as the BBC would try and tell you differently this has clearly not changed. It’s sometimes subtle, it’s sometimes obvious and blatant, it’s sometimes almost imperceptible, but bias is always there.
Reporters trotting out the endless diatribe of SNP Bad, highlighting acidly where the Scottish government hasn’t met challenging targets they have set themselves in health, without giving any context, or comparison to the basket case which is the English NHS.
Highlighting statistics about public sector performance and justice, with presenters making glum vague references to Scotland, without explaining that they are using figures from England and Wales only.
Business analysts trawling through financial forecasts and performance data to find minuscule differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK that they can highlight as a negative.
Badly spun reports that the tax system in Scotland unjustly discriminates against the armed services, which it clearly doesn’t for the vast majority, and in context, taking into account for themselves and their families the free additional provisions in health, care and education in Scotland that they enjoy, means that service folk are factually better off serving in Scotland.
All of this and the unrelenting flow of propaganda is designed to make Scotland’s people distrust their own country’s ability to govern itself, and promote the case for the continuance of Scotland’s large neighbour governing our country.
Overcoming the state media hold on those of us who traditionally trust what they read, listen to, and watch on a daily basis is one of the biggest challenges we face. It’s not an easy task.
Whatever comes to the fore as the organisation which replaces the official central Yes Campaign this time round must find better ways to channel rebuttal and try and take the media initiative. Being mainly responsive the last time allowed the other side to set and manipulate the agenda.
A great many people of a Yes mind did an awful lot of learning very quickly in 2013-2014. That experience is going to be crucial soon as we move towards the final days of the Union.