Posts Tagged ‘Luciano Pavorotti’

The Privatisation of Channel 4 Is Another Assault on Journalistic Independence

April 5, 2022

I gather from today’s headlines that the Tories are going ahead with their wretched plan to privatise Channel 4. Well, they’ve wanted to do it for a long time, ever since Maggie Thatcher set it up in the 1980s. It was meant to be an alternative to BBC 2, and so was naturally going to have low ratings. But it also had some excellent programming and did much to offer the British public genuine alternatives to the mainstream medial

It’s director-general in that decade, Jeremy Isaacs, believed that people had latent tastes they didn’t know they had, and it was the channel’s task to offer material that they otherwise wouldn’t know they liked. He talked in his autobiography about giving the public a range of minority interests like miners’ oral history. Reviewing it, Private Eye got very huffy, accusing Isaacs of thinking that he knew better than the rest of us. But Isaacs was quite right. For example, Quentin Letts, former Daily Mail and now Times parliamentary sketch writer, who is very definitely a man of the right, praised Isaacs’ Channel 4 in one of his books because it opened up opera to a mass audience. Absolutely correct – my family’s working class, but Dad used to put Channel 4’s opera on occasionally. I remember coming back from seeing the western Silverado at the flicks to find Dad had on the box a big opera event being broadcast across Europe. And there were obviously a sizable number of ordinary, working people like Dad across the country, years before Pavarotti caused a storm at the World Cup.

But the channel also offered a range of other content, often of a multicultural flavour. There was an adaptation of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, a season of films by the great Indian director, Satyajit Ray, as well as more popular Indian cinema with ‘All India Goldies’. It also gave a platform to the new, emerging alternative comedy scene with The Comic Strip, starring Rik Mayall, French and Saunders, Alexei Sayle and so on, and the group of Black comics, the Family. They had a series set in a Black barbershop. I only saw bits and pieces of it, but it was genuinely funny. In one episode, one of the characters finds out that he is the governor of a Caribbean island nation right at the same time they’re having revolution. He phones up his government on the island just in time to hear gunfire and one them report that ‘Such-and-such island has fallen’. Wearing his ceremonial uniform, the man then stands in a wastepaper bin and tears off his epaulettes. More seriously, the channel also presented a history of the world intended to challenge the Eurocentric bias of traditional history programmes. There was also news and documentary series about Africa, with Black presenters and a history of the continent presented by the White afrocentrist, Basil Davidson. I’ve been criticised here for describing Davidson as an afrocentrist in a previous post. But that is how Davidson, a respected historian, described himself in one of his books. Davidson is an afrocentrist in the sense that he believes that ancient Egypt is the ultimate source of western science and culture. He states that he has this view, because it’s what the ancient Romans and Greeks believed. While this is a very controversial view, he’s very far from the bizarre fantasies and pseudo-history of many on the Afrocentric fringe, like the notion that the ancient Egyptians somehow had quantum mechanics and advanced physics long before the 20th century.

To balance this, the channel also had more popular entertainment like Tell the Truth, a panel show that was ‘Would I Lie to You’ in all but name, the pop music programme, The Tube and the computer generated vid-jockey Max Headroom as well as the soap, Brookside. It also upset right-wing sentiments with sexually explicit movies and programmes, to the point where the Heil branded Michael Grade, the channel’s next director-general, ‘Britain’s pornographer in chief’. This was just when the channel had announced it was launching a season of gay and lesbian programmes and films. The best response to this came from the Archdeacon of York. The Mail’s journos had been contacting various people to ask what they thought about this latest assault on traditional British morality. The good clergyman replied, ‘Do you think anybody’s going to watch it if there’s Clint Eastwood on the other’. A common sense reaction against the Mail’s hysterical fearmongering.

The Tories seem to have hated all of this at the time, even if its programming was applauded by the critics. As I remember, they were particularly impressed by the Mahabharata, the Tube and the Family. Channel 4 was also set up to specialise in high quality news coverage. And it’s this which I think really annoyed the Tories. Channel 4 News had a reputation for being particularly good, and the channel also broadcast the current affairs documentary series Dispatches and The Bandung Files. The last I believe uncovered some of the dirty dealing by western politicos and multinationals in the Developing World. The channel became much more mainstream in the 90s under Bazalguette, who got rid of much of the alternative material. It still managed to annoy the Tories though with ‘yoof’ shows like The Word and The Girlie Show, both of which had reputation for being spectacularly bad in terms of content and taste.

But I think it’s the persistent, in depth coverage and incisive questioning of government policies by the news programmes that has particularly brought down Tory spite. Channel 4 News has done too good a job of holding the government to account. When anchorman John Snow announced he was retiring a few months ago, the Lotus Eaters put up a video celebrating it and calling him a ‘snowflake’. Hardly. Snow was just determined not to take BS from officialdom. During the bombardment of Gaza he called Israeli ambassador Mark Regev a liar to his face when Regev tried telling the British people that if they sent their aid packages to Israel, the Israelis would pass it on to Gaza’s besieged people. It was a complete lie, and Snow did his job as a decent journalist and didn’t put up with it.

The Tories loathe anyone questioning them. They hated Paxo on Newsnight when he regularly tore Tory politicos like Michaels Heseltine and Howard into raw, bloody chunks. Hence all the rubbish about the Beeb’s left-wing bias and the campaign to end the license fee. And they clearly also hate Channel 4 with a passion for the same reason. And so they’re determined to privatise it.

The hope is clearly that without state support, both the Beeb and Channel 4 will dwindle into insignificance. Genuine public service broadcasting, with the duty to be impartial, will die out to be replaced by a Murdoch-owned right-wing propaganda outlet, like Fox or GB News.

I’ve no doubt that this is all being presented as saving the taxpayer money for broadcasting material nobody watches – which was one of the arguments the Tories made against the channel back in the 80s when they part privatised it the first time. There’s almost certainly going to be talk about how it’s ‘woke’ bias is unrepresentative of British views, just like they ranted about it being ‘pc’ in 80s and 90s. But the real reason is that they despise its journalistic independence.

The privatisation of Channel 4 is yet another despicable assault on genuine, quality journalism in favour of right-wing propaganda pumped out by Murdoch. They want to destroy any journalistic independence so that right across the news media, only the right will be heard.

Zelo Street Mugs Mad Nads Dorries with Reality over Liverpool Council and Beeb

October 5, 2021

Great piece today by Tim Fenton, the sage of Crewe, demolishing some of the massive untruths told by Nadine Dorries, our new Culture Secretary. He starts off by reminding us all the Nads is no stranger to telling porkies. In 2006 she wrote a piece for Conservative Home containing the remarkable fact that every member of Liverpool council in 1955 was Tory. Did I say fact just then? Well, it was in the sense of Donald Trumps ‘alternative facts’. The real composition of Liverpool council at that year’s elections was 53 Tories to 65 Labour. She also said that there were eight MPs for the city at the time, all of whom were Tory. This is another falsehood. Liverpool had nine MPs, three of whom were Labour.

Now she is telling falsehoods about the BBC. The Corporation, she insists, must take action over breaches of impartiality. But former Groan editor Alan Rusbridger points out that Ofcom have found zero breaches of impartiality. He then says he has too much respect for her to accuse her of lying, and hopes she will produce some hard evidence to back up her assertions.

Steve Barnett of the University of Westminster also put the correct figures for the proportion of Beeb staff who went to private school. Nads has said that it’s 50 per cent. The actual figure is 11.5 per cent of all staff, and 17.5 per cent of the leadership

Zelo Street also quotes Peter Walker, again of the Groan, who said that Nads complained that those criticising her appointment as culture secretary were mainly people who benefited from nepotism. She also believes that the ‘groupthink’ at the Beeb excludes northerners and people from the working class. As the Street points out, this is a bit rich coming from the woman who employed two of her daughters at taxpayers’ expense. He also compares the Tory cabinet with the backgrounds of two of the Beeb’s favourite personalities:

“Meanwhile, the Tory cabinet is two-thirds privately educated, the BBC’s leading news anchor (Huw Edwards) was state-educated and his parents weren’t employed by the Corporation, and its leading sports presenter (Gary Lineker) began his working life helping his late Dad Barry – who ran a fruit and veg stall on Leicester Market.”

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/10/nadine-dorries-bbc-and-reality.html

In actual fact, I think the Beeb is biased. The Kushners pointed out in their great book, Who Needs the Cuts?, that the Beeb uncritically assumed that Austerity was justified and gave ample space to those economists and politicians who supported it. Dissenting voices, especially from the trade unions and other groups, were excluded or, if they did appear, shouted down. Analysis from the media monitoring groups at Edinburgh and Glasgow unis found that Conservative ministers and figures from industry and the City were far more likely to appear on the news than Labour politicos and trade unionists. And the Beeb showed massive bias in its treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, in which it supported the actions of the Thatcherite plotters and staunchly pushed the lie that the party was institutionally anti-Semitic. As, of course, did the rest of the media. If Ofcom didn’t find any breaches of impartiality there, then it probably doesn’t say much about the organisation’s own lack of bias. But whatever, the watchdog hasn’t found any bias against the Tories.

These figures also undermine mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield’s own attacks on the Beeb. Belfield claims he was forced out of the Beeb through a mixture of jealousy – certain star broadcasters were envious he got more listeners than they did – and contempt for his background. Belfield says he’s a working class lad from a pit village. As opposed to his former colleagues at the Beeb, who were all middle class and university educated. Well, they may have been. Not having gone to private school doesn’t necessarily mean that you are working class. Many of the peeps who are state educated are lower middle class. And possessing a university education doesn’t necessarily exclude members of the working class. Way back in the early 80s the student grant was still around to support students from poorer backgrounds. That’s been ended, but higher education has been massively expanded to include 45 per cent plus of the population. Which must surely include members of the working class.

But since before the days of David Cameron the Tories have been trying to pose as the real representatives of the working class, as against the university educated, left-wing elites. Tweezer opened her first cabinet meeting by saying that none of them were members of the elite. In fact, damn near every single one of them was a millionaire. As for attacks on university education, there’s a massive streak of anti-intellectualism amidst the parties of the right. The attacks on university education are there to inspire prejudice against anything a university group might say criticising Tory policy. But it ain’t just universities that the Tories hate. Some of us also remember the remark of a Tory MP about opera: ‘What’s opera? A fat Italian, singing in Italian, dressed as a woman.’ Well yes, a fair number of the great operas were written by Italians in Italian. But not all are exclusively sung by Italians of a certain weight, despite Pavarotti. And I don’t think all of them involve crossdressing. But it shows the prejudice of a certain type of Tory towards high art.

But once again, the Tories have been caught lying again. And unfortunately, once again it’s no surprise. It’s a pity Keef Stalin is trying to copy them in his leadership of Labour.