Letters: Consultation skewed against the BBC


Friday 31 July 2015 23:56 BST
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London (Getty Images)

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.

Michael Rosenthal

Banbury, Oxfordshire

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.

Bill Bordass

London NW1

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.

Peter Fieldman


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.

R Kimble


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.

Peter Kirker


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?

Ann Smith


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”.

John Laird

Darley, North Yorkshire

Groundbreaking androgyny

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.

Keith O’Neill


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.”

Chris Brown

Richmond, Surrey

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