Friday, October 31, 2008
Who Really Hounded the BBC?
It would seem, on the surface of it, that public opinion has triumphed in the BBC/Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand imbroglio. 30,000 plus complaints have finally been vindicated, with the resignation of two figures (Brand and the Radio 2 Controller) and the suspension without pay of another (Ross). But surface images are, inevitably, misleading, particularly in the opaque world of the media. 28,988 of the 30,000 complaints came some time after the show was broadcast, from people who didn't listen to it. They were encouraged by a tabloid campaign, initiated by the Daily Mail and joined with energy by the Sun, to protest. True to form, the daring elected politicians, led by Cameron and Brown, fell into line, and the rest, as they say, is history. But wait. What could have driven the tabloids, those custodians of public taste and morality, to launch their campaigns with such fury? Could it possibly be that their corporate media owners - Lord Rothermere (the Mail) and Rupert Murdoch (the Sun) have long harboured a commercial resentment at the BBC's public funded dominance of the media market, and were keen to inflict a serious blow against them as part of the campaign to denude them of public funds and leave the market open to such brave, free-market media oeprators as, er, Associated Newspapers and News Corp? Heaven forbid!