Reality Check for the BBC - It Can't Be the Only Public Service Source of News ; MEDIA ANALYISI
Greenslade, Roy, The Evening Standard (London, England)
THERE cannot be any doubt that the BBC's news output is trusted by the overwhelming majority of the British people and a large proportion of people across the world. That fact was underlined in the aftermath of the Gilligan/Kelly affair when polls showed that people preferred to believe the BBC's interpretation of the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq rather than the Government's.
Statistics also show that the BBC's online news service is far and away the most popular news source in Britain, with 3.6 billion page impressions a month over the past year, 12 million British users and 33 million global users.
I tend to trust the BBC too. I have a high regard for its editors and journalists. I respect the thought that has gone into the guidelines that seek to ensure the output is as truthful, fair and balanced as possible.
But even with the best of intentions, I am aware that truth- telling is virtually impossible. We should always strive to achieve it, of course, while recognising that it is unattainable. This is not a bad admission. It is reality. It means therefore that I do not see the BBC as the oracle. It has flaws. For example, I recently viewed a Norwegian TV documentary that called into question BBC TV news reports of a famine in Niger in 2005. The interviewees cast the country's food shortage in an entirely new light, suggesting that the reports of a famine were wholly mistaken. Yet I know the reporter concerned to be diligent, experienced and compassionate.
She had told the truth as she found it.
Other people, confronted by similar facts, saw the truth differently.
I mention this simply to illustrate that we should do all we can to avoid creating a situation in which we rely for our news on a single provider. However good the BBC may be, we must ensure that there is competition.
Sadly, the BBC does not seem to agree.
In a recent submission to the broadcasting regulator, the BBC contested Ofcom's desire to maintain plurality in the provision of public service broadcasting within Britain, arguing that the new market place allows people to access a far more diverse range of content from around the globe. So there is no need for home-grown rivals to produce public service material. The BBC does the job well enough already.
I fundamentally disagree with this line of argument. It is clear that online media enables people to read and view content from any location they choose.
But that does not negate the fact that most TV viewers living within Britain choose to view the …
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Publication information: Article title: Reality Check for the BBC - It Can't Be the Only Public Service Source of News ; MEDIA ANALYISI. Contributors: Greenslade, Roy - Author. Newspaper title: The Evening Standard (London, England). Publication date: July 3, 2008. Page number: 28. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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