Posts Tagged ‘Radio 5Live’

MPs Condemn BoJob’s Attempt to Control Media at Briefings

February 6, 2020

This is another article from yesterday’s I, for 5th February 2020. The piece, ‘MPs from all parties raise concerns over ‘Trumpian-style’ media ban’, by Nigel Morris and Hugo Gye, reports that MPs from all parties are condemning the attempts by BoJob and his polecat, Dominic Cummings, to decide which journos should be rewarded with access to the PM at lobby briefings after Monday’s mass walkout. The article runs

Downing Street face cross-party anger over a “Trump-style” attempt to restrict access to a briefing on Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy to a small number of favoured political correspondents.

The exclusion of reporters regarded as critical of the Government prompted an emergency debate in the Commons, and the Cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, is under pressure to investigate the “deeply disturbing episode”.

I understands that Downing Street is reviewing its policy of staging selective briefings on policy.

Senior television and newspaper journalists walked out of Downing Street en masse when No 10’s director of communications, Lee Cain, insisted that only a handful of reporters would be admitted to a “technical briefing” with David Frost. I was among several titles that Downing Street attempted to exclude.

No 10’s tactics on Monday caused dismay among senior Tories and other MPs alike. One Tory MP said: “It makes us look like control freaks.”

And senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove endured an uncomfortable appearance on BBC’s 5Live programme when he refused to answer whether he would have joined the walkout when he was a journalist.

In the Commons, the Cabinet Office minister, Chloe Smith, insisted it was “entirely standard practice” to arrange such briefings and that the Government was “committed to… the principles of media freedom”.

The SNP MP Pete Wishart said Ms Smith’s “self-justifying nonsense” would not “get her off the Trumpian hook”.

Tracy Brabin, the shadow Culture Secretary, said the decision undermined the traditional neutrality of civil servants.

The Labour leadership front runner, Sir Keir Starmer, said: “The actions… are deeply disturbing. Banning the media from important briefings… is damaging to democracy.”

A No 10 source said: “We reserve the right to brief journalists which we choose whenever we wish to.”

There is nothing normal about BoJob’s crew trying to dictate who does or does not attend press briefings. Zelo Street showed that in a couple of pieces commenting on Guido Fawkes’ attempts to spin this line a few days ago. Chloe Smith is wrong, and Peter Wishart, Tracy Brabin and Keir Starmer are right.

The end result of this attempt to impose highly authoritarian control over the media is the rigid censorship of totalitarian states like Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. As for Johnson believing in the principle of media freedom, well, he may do so in principle, but he has very blatant contempt for the idea in practice. With luck this means that the media will become much less docile and compliant in their support.

Perhaps they might even start to take the idea of the journalist’s responsibility to the hold government to account seriously again.

The Beeb’s Reward for Helping the Tories Win the Election: 450 Newsroom Jobs to Be Cut

January 30, 2020

There were reports last night of mass redundancies at the BBC newsroom. According to a story in today’s I by Adam Sherwin, ‘BBC staff in revolt as 450 news jobs are axed – but red button reprieved’, there was an angry confrontation between newsroom staff and the Beeb’s director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth over the proposed sackings. It was led by Victoria Derbyshire, whose award-winning show has also been axed. Here’s part of the article

Victoria Derbyshire led a furious staff revolt at the BBC yesterday after the corporation unveiled cuts to Newsnight, Radio 5Live and other news output, leading to 450 job losses.

The BBC said that presenters would be among those axed as resources are transferred from traditional broadcasting to digital platforms, in an attempt to make £80m of savings.

The number of original films produced on the flagship political programme Newsnight will be halved, with 12 staff under threat. A spokesman said that job losses at 5Live were being “driven by the changing listening habits of the audience and demand for digital content”.

There will be a review of the “the number of presenters we have and how they work” and a reduction in the number of stories covered each day, under a new centralised story commissioning structure.

The BBC is predicting 450 job losses, in addition to the 50 posts cut at the World Service before Christmas. Separately, it also suspended closure of its “red button” text service after protests that the move could adversely affect the elderly and people with disabilities.

An additional article by Sophie Morris reports that Johnson was asked yesterday whether the BBC was a ‘mortal enemy of the Conservative party or cherished British institution that will be funded by the license fee’ by the Labour MP for Weaver Vale, Mike Amesbury. Our current shambolic excuse for a prime minister replied ‘Well, Mr Speaker, I can certainly say that it is a cherished British institution and not a mortal enemy of the Conservative party.’

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Jeremy Hunt also said how the Tories ‘cherished’ the NHS, despite having authored a book demanding its privatisation, and as Health Secretary presiding over a process of cuts and privatisations. Sherwin’s article also quotes Amol Rajan, who seems far more closer to the mark by suggesting that the cuts are an attempt to appease the Beeb’s critics in government. They believe the corporation is outdated and may be replaced by a subscription-style streaming system. Rajan said

“The audience the BBC has in mind in making these changes isn’t just licence fee payers – it’s the inhabitants of 10 Downing Street.”

The Tories have hated the Beeb for a very long time. Some of that is ideological – they hate any kind of state industry. And some of it is very much self-interest. They resent the Beeb because it is required to be impartial, and their backers in the corporate media, like Rupert Murdoch, would like it abolished and its position as the country’s main broadcaster replaced by their own networks. A week ago Zelo Street reported that Boris’ adviser, Dominic Cummings, really did want to present the corporation as utterly biased against the Tories.

This is, of course, the complete opposite of the real truth, which is that Beeb has always been far more biased against the left, the Labour Party and the trade unions. And last month’s election campaign showed how extreme that bias was, with every opportunity taken to present Labour in an extremely bad light. In particular, the Beeb joined the rest of the lying corporate media in claiming that Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite, and the entire party was seething with Jew-hatred. If the Beeb had hoped to fend off the Tories’ attack by obediently following their line on the Labour Party, they’re going to be sadly disappointed. BoJob and his polecat still want greater say over who becomes the new director-general now that Tony Hall has retired. They will want someone who is dutifully compliant with their demands. Someone who will further turn the broadcaster into their propaganda arm, while running it down prior to privatisation.