Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Office Of Communications Threatens to Revoke RT's Broadcasting License

Following our discussion on media bias this week and to further the discussion on ‘corporate control of the news’, which Carlos posted on; here’s a brief synopsis of Glenn Greenwald’s recent piece that highlights the hypocrisy and double standards inherent in the UK government’s policies toward, and regulation of, the media.

The article centers on the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which functions as the UK government’s official media regulator and watchdog for ‘bias’. Greenwald cites that although Ofcom rarely reprimands establishment British media outlets (such as the BBC) for bias, it is now conveniently reprimanding RT, the Russian state funded television outlet for airing biased and anti-western comments while covering Ukraine. More specifically, “the program is understood to have featured a number of anti-western views in the discussion between the presenter and three studio guests”.

The point Greenwald is trying to underscore is the “propagandistic purpose of touting ‘media objectivity’ versus ‘bias’, as the former simply does not exist”. Further, it’s alarming that it is British journalists themselves who are most vocal in demanding Her Majesty’s Government ban RT on grounds of bias. Greenwald therefore encourages one to wonder how authoritarian a society must be if it gets its own journalists to play the leading role in demanding that the state ban (or imprison) the journalists it dislikes.

Ultimately, the point Greenwald drives home is that “purporting to compel media objectivity is always about imposing a very specific and subjective agenda masquerading as impartiality”. To emphasize his point he cites the Chair of Ofcom, Colette Bowe, who previously served as Chief Information officer at the Department of Trade, as a board member of Morgan Stanley and Electra Private Equity, among various other positions with conflicting interests. Greenwald cites her background and then questions whether anyone should believe in her concept of objectivity and impartiality” as it is unlikely to be anything other than the prevailing conventional wisdom and orthodoxies of the British elite.

The article ultimately emphasizes that while Her Majesty’s government lectures foreign governments on infringements of media liberty, it simultaneously and hypocritically threatens to revoke the license of a media outlet that broadcasts views and perspectives at odds with those of its own, “all while shielding (and venerating) the equally virulent biases from pro-state television”. This Greenwald asserts, “is the classic hallmark of how a government propagandizes its citizens: ensuring that they hear only those views of which the government approves and which serve its interests and agenda”.

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