The Communications Revolution: A Counter to Central Control?
Byline: DAFYDD WIGLEY Former Caernarfon MP and ex-National Assembly Member
THE twentieth century witnessed a revolution in communications. The availability of telephones and more recently mobile phones, empowered people in a way that our ancestors could never have imagined.
This was a one-to-one facility, which augmented our lives, allowing families to keep in touch and business to work more effectively. It enabled people to talk to each other, listen to each other, without being constrained by physical proximity. It was of huge benefit to individuals and the economy.
In contrast, radio and television changed the pattern of our lives. Certainly, they brought benefits in terms of access to news, documentary information and entertainment.
But they also had negative effects on family and community life.
Such media represented one-way traffic: the listeners and viewers are overwhelmingly passive recipients of the programmes directed at them. Phone-in programmes and audience participation grew as a small antidote to this - but barely touched the general pattern.
The overall effect was to strengthen the centralist grip over the population. In the extreme, it reinforced the concept of "Big Brother".
It gave the state the capability of invading every household and potentially imposing on the citizen the values and attitudes of those who ran the media.
In the hands of totalitarian regimes, this represented an enormous controlling influence with implications for personal liberty and the diversity of community culture.
In some countries, radio and television has been the tool of despots.
In contrast, the availability of mobile phones has been largely a liberating development. Telephones, in the hands of citizens, were not liked in totalitarian states. …