63 2 mins 7 yrs

Ofcom (the Office of Communications) is the government broadcasting regulator. It pretends to regulate broadcasting for the greater good, which is drivel of course. It’s part of the apparatus of ensuring that verboten opnions are kept from the peons.

RT (Russia Today) launched a specific UK operation last November, and it’s been harrassed constantly by Ofcom since, suffering six investigations. The latest one accuses RT of airing “anti-Western” views:

Russia Today is to be investigated by media regulator Ofcom over anti-western comments in a late-night discussion on Ukraine – its sixth ongoing inquiry into the Kremlin-backed news channel following complaints by viewers.

The regulator, which threatened Russia Today, or RT, with statutory sanctions after repeated breaches of broadcasting regulations on impartiality last year, faces a new investigation over its Crosstalk programme broadcast on 23 December last year.

Glenn Greenwald has more.

RT cannot comment, because it’s been barred from doing so by the government regulator, the one which has set out to protect us against hearing “anti-Western” views.

I’m not surprised at all. All governments hate the idea of even a thin sliver of genuine liberty remaining anywhere. All must be within its grasp and regulated – for the greater good of course. I’d just prefer that it stops lecturing others about press freedoms when it controls a regime which proscribes such freedoms at home.

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63 thoughts on “YOU THINK THERE’S A “FREE PRESS” IN THE UK?

  1. The UK needs a First Amendment, and does not have it.

    I don’t respect RT for a second but they should tell the UK regulator to drop dead on Wednesday morning.

  2. Yes, there is a free press in the UK. Highlighting Putin’s RT is laughable and invites comparisons to a real press under siege in Russia.

  3. The regulator, which threatened Russia Today, or RT, with statutory sanctions after repeated breaches of broadcasting regulations on impartiality last year, faces a new investigation over its Crosstalk programme broadcast on 23 December last year.

    The programme is understood to have featured a number of anti-western views in the discussion between the presenter and three studio guests, prompting one viewer to complain.

    If the Guardian report is accurate, and there is no reason to believe that it is not, then the press in the UK doesn’t sound too free to me.

    There should not be a regulator of speech, with ability to sanction the channel, because of anti western comments made.

    Hardly anyone watches RT anyway, and those who do watch it should expect to find anti Western speech there all the time. Anti western speech is the sole purpose of that channel.

  4. We aren’t talking about sanctioning the Guardian.

    I have no problem with RT saying ” the west sucks ” all day long. They’re a cable channel, they don’t even use up the public airwaves the way a standard TV signal does. There isn’t the slightest justification for there being a regulator for impartiality on cable TV programs. The idea is completely idiotic.

    This is like the bad old days when the US had the ” fairness doctrine ” for TV and radio.

  5. I think you’ll find that RT has an increasing viewer rate, Phantom.
    Aljazeera is doing well too, though it’s a bit more subtle about its anti-western stance.
    Kerry called RT a “propaganda bullhorn”.

    The ‘elites’ are getting nervous.

  6. Phantom – there is an ebb and flow of regulations even with countries with a vibrant free press, such as the UK. By any index the UK has a a healthy and vibrant press who take to task the government constantly. You want to. See a controoled press look at Russia, Cuba, China Uganda.

  7. Mahons

    This type of ” sanction ” of a TV station would be unthinkable in the US.

    How does it possibly serve the interests of the British public?

    Bernard

    I have grown to respect the English language of Al Jazeera that is now widely available here. They cover the world in some considerable depth in a way that no US news channel ever did.

    There’s a lot less of that ” Republicans and Democrats ” US political nonsense on ALJ, an advantage in itself. The Democratic and Republican presidential election cycle that is about to begin will not the only news story. There will be many stories that will be much more important.

  8. “I think you’ll find that RT has an increasing viewer rate, Phantom.”

    Yes, Bernard. But that doesn’t necessarily mean all viewers buy into its political stance.

    I know someone who sometimes watches RT “for the laugh” so ridiculously biased is its coverage. (Same reason this person occasionally tunes in to Fox.)

  9. Fox is the defacto broadcast arm of the Republican Party, and RT is the broadcast arm for Putin and his oligarchs.

    In the US, RT’s ratings I believe are beyond low. Normally, of course, a cable system pays for its programming. But I believe that no cable company here pays for RT – it may even be the reverse, that RT pays them for the privilege of being broadcast.

    Outside of this blog, I’ve never heard a person bring the channel up in conversation. Putin is not getting his money’s worth in America.

  10. and RT is the broadcast arm for Putin and his oligarchs.

    RT may well be Putin’s broadcasting arm, though it would go some way to correcting the industrial output of lies from the ‘free’ media of the UK – free to lie, as has been shown several times.

  11. “free to lie, as has been shown several times.”

    Of course a free press occasionally tells lies. That stands in stark contrast to state propaganda organs that lie continuously.

  12. I’ll let the locals speak for the UK press, but the US press bites the power structure often enough.

    The largely liberal NY Times just recently threw a damaging blow at Hillary Clinton by reporting that she used personal email addresses for all her government work as Secretary of State.

    This may not sound like much, but it means that proper records were not kept, including likely some sensitive diplomatic stuff.

    There would be plenty of other examples where say the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc bites the president or other important figures with uncomfortable reporting. RT will never do the same for Putin and the lads.

  13. Reg – it has been shown on this site that lies have been specifically targetting Russia and particularly Putin. Within two weeks there were lies about ‘Russian nuclear bombers over Bournemouth’ (Daily Mail by the senior editor of The Economist) and “Putin’s going to murder me” as reportedly said by Nemtzov in The Independent (owned by Alexander Lebedev) and an utterly false translation. These are lies with purpose.

  14. Allan ( and others )

    What would be your three to five most trusted sources for world news?

    If you had to limit your viewing / reading to five radio / tv/ print / web sources and no others which would they be?

    I have my list already.

  15. RT is a Russian state-funded television network so of course it spouts Putin’s views.

  16. Right but BBC radio and TV has been state funded forever, but it is generally regarded as the best or one of the best news and other broadcasters in the world.

    Other state broadcasters ( Canada, Ireland, etc ) are certainly seen as good and not as propaganda megaphones.

    RT is a high tech Pravda – little to no hard reporting against their pals, endless hard propaganda against their adversaries ( the US and UK for sure )

  17. Yes yes yes yes yes, we can all agree that RT’s scripts are written by Putin’s minions, if not himself. We can put aside that irrelevence.

    RT is being investigated, in the UK, for airing “anti-Western” opinions. We can conclude that there is no free press in the UK, and that the thrilling ride into police-state despotism is real. Yes?

  18. The UK regulator is seeking to change ( restrict ) the speech of a TV station for reasons that don’t even make sense.

    And if speech is restricted, that’s worth talking about.

  19. Right but BBC radio and TV has been state funded

    No, the licence fee is not state funding.

  20. The state does not mandate that one pay the license fee?

    It is not a state broadcaster?

  21. Peter, on March 4th, 2015 at 8:12 PM Said:

    No, the licence fee is not state funding.

    Yes it is.

  22. Phantom

    It’s a bit of a muddle. It remains compulsory and you can be fined but not imprisoned if you don’t pay it. Of course you can be imprisoned if you fail to pay the fine.

    But the BBC is not a state broadcaster. Over the decades it has enraged governments of both political persuasions. Harold Wilson despised it as much as Margaret Thatcher did.

  23. Dave Alton

    State funding is what police, schools and hospitals get from the government and raised by taxation. Look up the definition.

  24. It is seen as a license ( similar to a hunting license ) because you can choose not to have a TV set and use the service?

  25. BBC admits receiving millions in grants from EU and councils

    The BBC received millions of pounds from the European Union and local authorities over the past four years, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

    BBC received nearly £3million in grant money from the European Union over the past four years.

    The news prompted MPs to raise questions about the BBC’s impartiality when its journalists report on events in the EU.

    The BBC admitted in a letter to a Tory MP that it has received nearly £3million in grant money from the European Union over the past four years.

    Other grants totalling £16million came from local authorities across the UK. The money was spent on “research and development projects”.

    The broadcaster also disclosed that its commercial arm BBC Worldwide borrowed over £141million from the European Investment Bank since 2003. Of that figure £30million is still due to be repaid by the end of May this year.

    These figures are disclosed in the commercial arm’s annual report, while the BBC’s annual report does not make clear where the grant money comes from.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/9055183/BBC-admits-receiving-millions-in-grants-from-EU-and-councils.html

  26. The revenue is collected privately and is paid into the central government Consolidated Fund, a process defined in the Communications Act 2003. The BBC pursues its licence fee collection and enforcement under the trading name “TV Licensing”. TV Licensing collection is currently carried out by Capita, an outside agency. Funds are then allocated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Treasury and approved by Parliament via legislation. Additional revenues are paid by the Department for Work and Pensions to compensate for subsidised licences for eligible over-75-year-olds.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC#Revenue

  27. BBC received nearly £3million in grant money from the European Union over the past four years.

    LOL. The BBC’s income is £5 billion per annum so £0.75 million is not likely to influence its editorial coverage. And the Torygraph has no moral platform to lecture others, given how it has sold out its editors to its advertisers, as was proved two weeks ago.

  28. They would have very many revenue streams, including from the US, where there are two BBC Channels on many cable systems including mine.

  29. Peter, on March 4th, 2015 at 8:53 PM Said:

    Dave Alton

    State funding is what police, schools and hospitals get from the government and raised by taxation. Look up the definition.

    You’re just splitting hairs Peter. As you pointed out, you have to pay, (via tax), for hospitals and schools. The TV Licence is just another Tax. You have to pay it. (Unless you have no means of receiving live broadcasts which very few people do.)

  30. Phantom, on March 4th, 2015 at 8:58 PM Said:

    It is seen as a license ( similar to a hunting license ) because you can choose not to have a TV set and use the service?

    Yes. But this is where my disagreement with Peter comes in. It’s extremely rare for someone not to have a television these days. (Although more people are choosing to user their tablet computers and PC’s and the BBC wants them to have to buy a licence too.) The fact that you have to have a licence, when the BBC now represents a small number of the total channels available is what makes this a state tax. You shouldn’t be made to pay for the BBC anymore IMHO. They should either use a subscription model or show advertisements.

  31. Dave

    It is not state funding. And the reason for that is that it was always intended to be independent of government. And it has mostly succeeded in that noble aim.

  32. Phantom

    I agree that the compulsory licence fee’s days are numbered. But we need a carefully thought out alternative, not another few channels instantly converted to join the ranks of trash TV.

  33. It must be said that 99% of the private channels can’t touch the quality of what the BBC does. It’s a Jerry Springer world, we just live in it.

    In this country, HBO does, but very few others.

  34. I proudly and happily proclaim that I’m a telly tax refusnik and always will be.

    Of course the BBC is a state broadcaster. It’s a creature of the state, created and funded by the state, licensed by the state and answerable to the state. It’s wholly statist in nature and, in this sense, is as biased as RT or Fox News (both of which are drippingly statist).

    Since technology has cut through the BBC’s archaic ways, it’s agitating for a general BBC taxation. I’ll refuse to pay that one too. I linked to the fine Glenn Greenwald in the post because he makes a few very good points. One of them pertains to the biases of the (approved) British press:

    Ofcom has rarely punished establishment British media outlets for “bias” even though the British media is notoriously and slavishly loyal to the state and other British political and financial elites. Just last week, Guardian editor Seumus Milne noted: “as one academic study after another has demonstrated . . . . from the coverage of wars to economics, [the BBC] has a pro-government, elite and corporate anchor. The BBC is full of Conservatives and former New Labour apparatchiks with almost identical views about politics, business and the world.” Indeed, of all the countless media outlets around the world covering NSA reporting over the last 18 months, the BBC has easily been the worst: the most overtly biased in favor of mass surveillance and official claims. Ofcom’s authority over BBC is limited, but plenty of British media outlets — certainly most of its largest ones — are driven by these same biases.

    This is absolutely correct. Of course RT sticks pretty closely to The Kremlin’s line (although it often makes very valid points about US foreign policy), but in the final analysis, the approved British press will stick just as closely to the script also.

  35. The BBC never criticizes powerful British politicians the same way that RT never exposes Putin or his oligarch buddies?

  36. Of course the BBC is a state broadcaster. It’s a creature of the state, created and funded by the state, licensed by the state and answerable to the state. It’s wholly statist in nature and, in this sense, is as biased as RT or Fox News (both of which are drippingly statist).

    Pete Moore

    With respect, total bollocks.

  37. Phantom –

    The BBC tends to report criticism of politicians, rather then criticise them itself, but then it’s a finely honed political organisation.

    But this is beside the point. The BBC is wholly loyal to the political and economic power structure which created and sustains it.

  38. The BBC tends to report criticism of politicians

    But RT ( the US version anyway ) doesn’t even do that ( reporting on criticism of Putin or on Russian meddling in Ukraine etc) or if they do it they run through it really really fast, before another really long agitprop report on how life in NYC or London is just so awful and how ” Occupy Wall Street ” is the greatest social movement in American history.

  39. The BBC is wholly loyal to the political and economic power structure which created and sustains it.

    Agreed. But that does not make it a “state broadcaster” like RT. There’s a difference, and you know it.

  40. Phantom, on March 4th, 2015 at 6:05 PM Said:
    Allan ( and others )

    What would be your three to five most trusted sources for world news?

    I don’t know and I don’t see why I should even imagine limiting the sources of reporting.

  41. I’m not saying that anyone should do that.

    But that sounds like Sarah Palin who when asked what publications she reads said ” all of them ”

    An unvetted blog that you’ve never seen before should not be taken as seriously as a publication / site / show that has been accurate many times in the past, and where you perhaps know some of the reporters, feature writers, etc.

    You – and everyone – interested in the news has a few ” go to ” sites / publications. Because you can’t read everything, and all outlets are not the same. Oh, you have favorites, Allan. Show your hand, sir.

  42. Here’s a site which I found about 10 minutes ago:

    http://nwioqeqkdf.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/just-another-300-little-white-girls.html#comment-1885047026

    This was the front page of the Telegraph this morning on the 2nd March 2015. Prince William visits China, Maggie Smith discusses working with another British thespian, a PC branding farce, Army cuts and 300 White Girls have been systemically raped and tortured by racially alien colonizers we never wanted in our living space. Just another headline, just another 300 raped white girls. This is what 300 school children look like:

    This “unvetted” (who should ‘vet’ it?) site is more accurate than the ‘serious’ publications that have been accurate on occasions well in the past.

  43. Phantom – I did provide several links on several occasions to a site which I visit frequently, yet you refused to open any of the links. Why ask when you don’t engage?

  44. If Phantom has one thing, it’s staying power, another 13 odd hour shift at the ATW coalface yesterday.

    How does he get any work done?

  45. Harri

    Do you not get tired of this? I met Phantom in Belfast last year. He didn’t appear to be any sort of ‘spook’ to me, in his wide-brimmed hat and long grey over coat. He greeted me with a cheery, “The eagle has landed,” and I responded in kind with a heartfelt, “The fat man walks alone.” Having exchanged said pleasantries, we moved on to more trivial stuff – where I lived, what I worked at, who were my known political connections, all my passwords and bank details, had I ever visited Cuba – the usual stuff. Then we sat there, I supping my pint, he whispering sweet nothings up the sleeve of his coat. A very pleasant evening, all in all, marred only by the constant crackle from his earpiece, and the fact that when he wrote down his own details, it was in invisible ink. At the end of the evening, we parted ways. I hailed a taxi, and he got into a vintage car, which drove straight into the Lagan and disappeared underwater.

  46. Seimi, on March 5th, 2015 at 11:02 AM Said:

    Harri

    Do you not get tired of this?

    No.

    His arrogance keeps me going.

  47. Do you not get tired of this? I met Phantom in Belfast last year. He didn’t appear

    to be any sort of ‘spook’ to me, in his wide-brimmed hat and long grey over coat. He greeted me with a cheery, “The eagle has landed,” and I responded in kind with a heartfelt, “The fat man walks alone.” Having exchanged said pleasantries, we moved on to more trivial stuff – where I lived, what I worked at, who were my known political connections, all my passwords and bank details, had I ever visited Cuba – the usual stuff. Then we sat there, I supping my pint, he whispering sweet nothings up the sleeve of his coat. A very pleasant evening, all in all, marred only by the constant crackle from his earpiece, and the fact that when he wrote down his own details, it was in invisible ink. At the end of the evening, we parted ways. I hailed a taxi, and he got into a vintage car, which drove straight into the Lagan and disappeared underwater.

    Sounds like a great night out 😉

  48. to be any sort of ‘spook’ to me, in his wide-brimmed hat and long grey over coat.

    a) What does a ‘spook’ look like?

    b) Was it a fancy dress night?

  49. What does a ‘spook’ look like?

    You’re the one who is convinced that Phantom is a government ‘spook’, so you tell me.

    Was it a fancy dress night?

    In my limited experience of government spooks – ie watching movies – this is what I imagine government ‘spooks’ to dress like. perhaps you could correct me?

  50. In my limited experience of government spooks – ie watching movies – this is what I imagine government ‘spooks’ to dress like. perhaps you could correct me?

    Of course you are 100% correct, you just forgot the rather large sunglasses and the newspaper with two eye-holes cut out.

  51. The “Spooks” next long, long shift is due to start within the next hour or so 😉

  52. we moved on to more trivial stuff – where I lived, what I worked at, who were my known political connections, all my passwords and bank details, had I ever visited Cuba – the usual stuff.

    Of course, that’s all ‘secret’ stuff, no-one else knows any of that but you!

    Oh dear 😉

  53. You’re the one who is convinced that Phantom is a government ‘spook’

    I am not the only one?

    Home time.

  54. Seimi.

    It looks like you were right and I was wrong, Phantom only managed a paltry 9 hour shift at the ATW coalface yesterday 😉

    Still, almost 30 hours in three days takes some going.

    It’s like a full-time job?

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