Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A British Fox?

Alex Deane has written on Conservative Home calling for a British equivalent to Fox News. The problem with this piece is that it seems to believe that the block to such a channel is a lack of willing investors.

I think key here is the regulatory agency. Fox News US, as it is shown in the UK via digital, was recently in trouble because someone, in a comment section, called the BBC anti-american. So long as we have a regulator which enforces the BBC as the standard for fair and unbiased deviations from that, left wing, code will be punished and impossible to maintain.

The only solution would seem to be to remove the rules governing impartiality and let right and left wing programmes duke it out as in the newspapers. Some kind of regulation is still needed for the state owned BBC (if abolition is not an option) but not for the competing private news stations. Were deregulation to happen the promise of an audience which would (as is the case in the newspapers) most likely be larger than that for left wing journalism would see right wing TV journalism proliferate.

7 comments:

Serf said...

Unfortunately you are correct.

All TV broadcasting must be unbiased under the present regulations. The fact that the BBC is a hot bed of instinctive socialism is apparently not a problem, but you can bet that a right wing channel would be closed down immediately.

Alex Deane said...

You're obviously right: our rules on TV ownership are absurd and should be scrapped. Freedom of speech is limited by it and we don't get neutrality anyway.

BUT: the situation won't ever come to a crisis point unless there's a realistically viable conservative channel in the offing - and to do that, we need cash!

Alex

Matthew Sinclair said...

I think the law clearly needs to change first. No one is going to invest in a channel with only a minor possibility of its receiving regulatory approval. Once the right regulation is in place the market will provide.

I think the importance of the regulatory environment can be seen in the difference between the Murdoch channels. He isn't more leftwing in the UK (how to explain the Sun) but clearly his TV news is forced to be.

The A. said...

Darling, how are you? Anyway, some little notes on Alex Deane's, er, 'analysis'.

1. That little thing about having a media channel to, using his verb, 'nourish' a political movement - its not an illogical idea nor is it strategically unsound, but its crass. Surely political ideologies are oriented to solving social needs, they dont exist for themselves. The Conservative movement in Britain, as perceived by Mr. Dean, may not be under-nourished as much as not having an audience big enough - cue Cameron.

2. Mr. Deane completely ignores something called a Newspaper - which I might insist is the more important political medium in the UK (cue-lack of nationwide papers in the USA and not so in the UK, cue- Newspaper centric content of many British political shows). His little analysis about the frustrated-ambitions-of-the-(assumed)-majority-in-the-television sector - while assuming majority and lack of other channels on TV, also assumes that Newspapers and TV are not substitutes for political expression. Pooh pooh.

3. Given my foreign status, hence my outside-the-silly-UK way of looking things, I would love to know how 'Britishness' is to be made into a television theme. How would this channel treat Scotland/Wales vis-a-vis England?

Lastly, this is not an argument as much as an opinion. The true worth of the British political system - as I see it - is its maturity. It is the ost mature political system where debates can be run on an intellectual plane, with less intrusion of wayward ideology (from either side of the spectrum) and more dependance on economics. That the British say - How should we reform the pensions system? - instead of an American speech on 'Ownership Society' and the ideological bloodbath that follows, is what makes them so much more respectable in my view. (and in the views of many economists) Mr. Deane obviously would rather change this character of working. Its a shame.

shariq said...

Btw, fox doesn't work because it makes the news biassed (although it does that as well).

It works because rather than adopting the news with analysis format, it uses the news + commentary format.

Example - the BBC will have 30 mins of news, with some items having accompanying guests who discuss the story. On the other hand, Fox news reports are never more than 5 minutes.

They then devote the rest of the time to 'commentary' by the likes of Bill (Steven Colbert so owns him) Reilly, Hannity and Whatever, John (thinks he lost the presidency because he didn't have enough money) Kasich etc.

So in sum, the BBC and Fox are not symetrically functioning networks which would 'cancel each other out'.

On top of this, I'm not convinced that a Fox type thing would work because there isn't a concensus 'mainstream media' to rail against. Fox is as much a reaction to the NYT as it is to CNN. Secondly it was built upon a talk radio base which doesn't exist here.

Finally, does anyone else find the right using a post-modernist 'nothing is neutral', in making its case for a free for all/

El Dave. said...

I should preface this by saying that I'm pro-BBC, although I would admit that it has a left-wing bias. Not left wing enough, IMHO, but there you go.

Diversity of opinions is a good thing. I quite often watch Fox News for a different point of view. That, and you have to keep tabs on what the enemy are up to.

The A is right to a large extent when he talks about newspapers. One of the things I like about newspapers in Britain is that there is a variety - from the Mail to the Socialist Worker by way of the Economist - and I can't help but feel that the same diversity would benefit the television.

The fact that Auntie Beeb and Uncle Fox aren't symmetrically opposed doesn't matter.

Oh, and there is a talk radio base. If you ever go in a black cab in London, they all listen to Talk radio.

I didn't realise that there were laws that restricted media in that way. Not good.

The other advantage, and something the left (such as it is) in America has singularly failed to do, is that you can have a left/liberal version of Fox News.

xD.

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