As teachers and researchers in media and journalism, we are surprised and concerned that the terms of the consultation based on the government’s Green Paper on BBC charter review are so skewed; they are so preoccupied with an assumed negative impact of the BBC on the commercial media market that they ignore the considerable evidence of the BBC’s enormous contribution to the UK’s creative industries and to society more generally.
The consultation therefore fails to consider the BBC’s remit to serve all audiences, irrespective of background or geography, or to acknowledge the host of evidence about the public use, importance, and impact of BBC services.
We fully understand the complexities involved in assessing the performance of the BBC, and are aware that it has much work to do in representing diverse perspectives and populations. However, the Green Paper seems determined to repeat (without any empirical justification) criticisms of the BBC that regularly surface in the Murdoch-owned press and similar newspapers. It also seems to bury any notion that UK citizens might be best served by a content provider that produces both popular and minority programmes and broadcasts them across a range of platforms.
It is clear that the Green Paper’s real intent is not to secure a future for a well-funded, genuinely independent and innovative public service provider, but to shrink the BBC in the interests of its commercial competitors. We urge the Government to ensure that the review embraces the widest possible range of independent evidence, and not to put at unnecessary risk an institution internationally regarded as a major British achievement.
Professor Natalie Fenton, Chair, Media Communications and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) Goldsmiths, University of London.
Professor Peter Golding (Hon. Secretary, MeCCSA)
Professor Tim O’Sullivan (Vice-Chair, MeCCSA)
Professor Karen Ross (Treasurer, MeCCSA, Northumberland University)
Professor Mark Banks, University of Leicester
Professor Steven Barnett, University of Westminster
Helen Baehr, MeCCSA Executive Committee
Dr. Anita Biressi, University of Roehampton
Professor Georgina Born, Oxford University
Professor Karen Boyle, University of Stirling
Professor Raymond Boyle, University of Glasgow
Lee Cadieux, University of Ulster
Joanna Callaghan, Sussex University
Dr. Cynthia Carter, Cardiff University
Professor Nick Couldry, London School of Economics
Professor Ros Coward, University of Roehampton
Professor James Curran, Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor Aeron Davis, Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor John Downey, University of Loughborough
Professor Gillian Doyle, Glasgow University
Professor Ivor Gaber, University of Sussex
Professor Rosalind Gill, City University
Dr Janey Gordon, University of Bedfordshire
Professor Des Freedman, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Agnes Gulyas, University Kent at Canterbury
Professor David Hendy, University of Sussex
Professor David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds
Professor Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia
Dr Stephen Lax, University of Leeds
Professor Justin Lewis, Cardiff University
Professor Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics
Professor Peter Lunt, University of Leicester
Professor Angela McRobbie, Goldsmiths
Professor Maire Messenger-Davies, University of Ulster
Professor Heather Nunn, University of Roehampton
Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University
Professor Deborah Philips, University of Brighton
Professor Greg Philo, University of Glasgow
Professor Andy Pratt, City University
Professor Richard Sambrook, Cardiff University
Professor Jean Seaton, University of Westminster
Professor Jeannette Steemers University of Westminster
Professor Sue Thornham, Sussex University
Dr Einar Thorsen, Bournemouth University
Professor Garry Whannel, University of Bedfordshire
Dr Milly Williamson, Brunel University
Your report that Rupert Murdoch and George Osborne have been holding unreported meetings is as predictable as it is utterly depressing (31 July). Murdoch has been trashing Britain for decades.
I learned of Osborne’s attack on the BBC through Le Monde, whose correspondent, Eric Albert, took it as read that this was payback for Murdoch’s support of the Conservative Party. Indeed, that party is supported by the majority of the British press, and those papers demonstrate an intolerance of the expression of views other than their own such as must be genuinely worrying in what is meant to be a pluralistic democracy.
If Murdoch and Osborne get away with it, this has real and dangerous constitutional implications. The BBC can foster creativity and originality because it is unfettered by commercial constraints. Murdoch and Osborne, as their respectively caving in to Chinese governments demonstrates, offer nothing worth having.
It would be comforting to imagine that there may be one or two Conservative MPs who are as disquieted by all this as I am, and who might be spurred to do something about it, but I doubt it.
Thatcher’s green vision betrayed
What a good essay on climate change by Margaret Atwood (30 July). However, while she reflects on how the conversation has moved forward in the past six years, for the UK Government time seems to run backwards.
For two decades since Margaret Thatcher’s speech to the United Nations on the global environment in 1989, Britain led the world in addressing climate change; not just in terms of international rhetoric, but by gaining parliamentary consensus and inspiring other nations. In 2010, David Cameron announced “the greenest government ever”.
Instead, our Government has abandoned any vision of climate leadership, and is prepared to go no faster than everybody else, no doubt under the thumb of a short-sighted Treasury. We deserve better than this.
Calais crisis is only the start
The events in Calais are just the beginning of an unprecedented mass movement by people from poor countries affected by the growing disparity in wealth between north and south. People arrive uninvited every day from Asia or North Africa through Greece, the Balkans or Libya, all believing they have a right to live in Western Europe.
Europe’s political leaders must decide what they want. Allowing one person to stay merely sends a message which encourages thousands more to risk their lives. Virtually all the migrants are economic migrants abusing the asylum system. We have to either allow all migrants to stay, which will lead to a never ending stream of undocumented people without resources, requiring housing and benefits, or we say “Stop”, however harsh it may seem.
It requires advising all the migrants and their governments that Western Europe can no longer tolerate an untenable situation creating enormous pressure on our own societies. There needs to be a UN conference on the migration and asylum issue, making each government responsible for its own citizens. All illegal immigrants must be deported to their country of origin. The UN needs to prepare a list of rogue states and make it a legal requirement for all genuine asylum seekers to go to a neighbouring country on the same continent.
Either we live in law-abiding societies with rules or the jungle where anarchy will lead to the collapse of our economies and society.
David Cameron’s comment about “swarms” of immigrants threatening society as we know it in England is redolent of the Nazis’ language about hordes of Jews and Bolsheviks threatening German society.
These are human beings, and while some may be coming here to abuse our welfare system, plenty are escaping torture and cruel regimes. You don’t hear Mr Cameron talking about “swarms” of white Australians, Americans or Canadians coming here, so his remark is clearly racist.
Corbyn, a sober voice at question time
Amid alarmist bluster about morons and the loony left, two points have had little attention. First: Jeremy Corbyn will bring sobriety and maturity to the Dispatch Box, to the extent that if Cameron responds with the puerile grandstanding of past PMQs he will be seen as Flashman trying to thrash a thoughtful and undemonstrative Tom Brown. Second: Corbyn, with his beard and Breton cap, will make life easier for cartoonists, who have had to battle through lean times.
Another point widely overlooked, except by this newspaper, is that the public mood is with Corbyn on his key policies such as Trident, rail ownership and the rest.
Death and no taxes?
Further to Denis Ahern’s letter (31 July), it appears that Douglas Adams was a prophet. Remember the character in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who spent a year dead for tax purposes? Will we see a new, tax-efficient version of the Resurrection Men?
Eating surprisingly well in 1952
Ellen E Jones compliments the BBC on its period detail in The Secret Adversary (27 July). In one scene the three principal characters are at a well-filled dinner table and Tommy is tenderising a piece of meat the size of a dinner plate. In 1952? With rationing still in force? On two ration books? I think not, unless my memory fails me, or they already had contacts with “undesirable elements”.
Darley, North Yorkshire
Martin King writes of the softening of traditional male styles and attitudes since the 1960s (31 July). The article is accompanied by a list of “Metrosexual Moments”. This jumps from 1965 to 1980, missing the most significant period of all: the early 1970s.
This was marked by the groundbreaking androgyny of bands like T. Rex, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Sweet. The Beatles, Stones and Kinks set the ball rolling during the Sixties, but these bands pushed the boundaries considerably further.
Cut out the chatter
Matthew Norman’s heartfelt tribute (25 July) to his barber reminded me of Enoch Powell’s reply when asked how he wanted his hair cut: “In silence.”
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