Reimagining the BBC

If the media plays as an important role in maintaining the current system of injustice as Herman, Chomsky, Pilger, etc. claim then media reform should be one of the main priorities for social justice activists.  However, exposing media bias is one thing.  It is quite another to articulate how the media could be reorganised so that it actually functions properly.  The Left has been quite good at the former, but not so good, in my opinion, at the latter.  Furthermore this lack of vision for an alternative media system, it seems to me, has greatly debilitated the lefts ability for formalise good strategy for media reform campaigns.  

What would the BBC look like if it were a genuine public service broadcaster?  What would its basic institutional features be and how might they function?  The participatory economic (parecon) model offers some answers.  
Below is a proposal for a possible UK based IOPS project.  I am seeking feedback so please comment, ask questions, criticise, etc… The proposal is still in its developmental stage so any help in refining the idea is much appreciated.  Thanks in advance!  

BBC News Watch

(A Proposal for a UK based IOPS Project)

"Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state"

Noam Chomsky

"They know they can trust us not to be really impartial"

Lord Reith

Where We Stand:
BBC News Watch supporters and staff believe that the BBC has not, and can not, perform its duty as a public service broadcaster because of its institutional features and internal structure.  Due to these organisational factors we predict that the BBC will function in the interest of elites and not in the interests of the general public.  We focus on the BBC because we believe that public sector media is open to progressive transformation in ways that private sector media is not.  Whereas corporate sponsored media should be dismantled existing publicly funded media should be democratised.  

The Four Functions of BBC News Watch:
By primarily focusing on the BBC News we will –
expose the distorted world-view of current affairs projected by the BBC.
pressure the BBC to publicly acknowledge distortions in its reporting / broadcasting.  
present arguments for how this distorted world-view serves elite interests – as opposed to the public interest – which in turn acts as a barrier to meaningful democracy and progressive reforms both here in the UK and abroad.  
encourage and facilitate the organisation of BBC workers (BBC staff) and consumers (BBC licence payers) into an effective campaign group that can exert sufficient pressure on the Government to force it to implement progressive structural reforms with the intention of moving us towards worker and consumer self-management [1] of the BBC and with this facilitating it to function as a genuine public service broadcaster.  

Our Basic Activities:
Monthly – News Analysis Report.  This will document important omissions [2], inaccuracies, out-and-out lies, etc. in the BBC News and current affairs programmes.
Annually – Institutional Analysis and Vision Report.  This will present the argument for why we need structural reforms if the BBC is to function as a public service broadcaster and what these new institutions might look like.
On-going – Structural Reform Campaigns.  This will involve BBC staff and licence payers being organised and developing a National strategy.  [3]

What We Need:
Supporters – Financial contributions from local IOPS branches and donations from sympathetic members of the public / organisations.  
Staff – Media Analysts / Writers / Campaign Organisers. []

[1] By self-management we mean that workers / consumers have a say in decisions in proportion to the degree to which they are affected by the outcome of that decision.  This notion of self-management is informed by the participatory economic (ParEcon) model which we believe will facilitate the BBC to function in the public interest whilst also accommodating media diversity, freedom of expression and creativity.  This contrasts sharply with typical left-wing (Fabian / Marxist) proposals for workers control which tend to result in the centralisation of power, a narrowing of debate and general homogenisation of media culture.  
[2]  Important omissions could include the BBC’s failure to report on, and inform the general public about, corporate propaganda.  This, of course, should be a primary function of any public service broadcaster with a commitment to meaningful democracy.
[3] Im thinking we could produce ten monthly News Analysis Reports per year (with two months annual leave) plus one annual general meeting where we present our Institutional Analysis and Vision Report to our supporters.  Such a meeting could also be used as an opportunity for supporters and staff to review and develop strategic campaign options.  

Leave a comment