Welcome to my new website!
On this page you’ll (shortly) find links to two main collections: historical essays which explore different eras of the BBC’s past from a critical perspective, and my own investigations – as a working statistician – into their modern-day output.
So far, I have explored the BBC’s presentation of events during the UK-wide General Strike of 1926. This fractious, fateful moment in time is now mostly forgotten – and yet lessons lurk under the surface that are still relevant for us today.
The General Strike was the very first time the BBC was available to a UK Government under pressure – one which was still experimenting with ways of controlling public attitudes in the wake of universal suffrage. It was the first test of the supposed ‘impartiality’ of the BBC. And it was a test that it failed.
The BBC’s behaviour back then – and the unselfconciousness of its early management and publications – can be used to inform us about its fundamental nature. The 1920s were a time when the dark arts of spin were more rudimentary, and the great distance of time that separates us from this high-street ‘class-war’ battle allows us a uniquely dispassionate appraisal of the BBC’s role in the event. For the BBC’s behaviour back then set the scene for everything that came later: its political partiality was encoded in its DNA right from the start.
In this (rather longish) essay, I have used a collection of academic textbooks as source materials – all economic/industrial history tomes and media history books, and every factual statement I have made is referenced from these. Feel free to skip through this history at the start if you like, but do be sure to read the eye-opening excerpts from the May 1926 ‘Radio Times’!
I plan to investigate further episodes in a similar way: the BBC’s promotion of the British Empire, the BBC’s reinforcement of London’s supremacy/UK centralisation, the BBC’s handling of the 1983 Miners’ Strike, the BBC’s output during the build up to the Iraq Invasion, the BBC’s handling of the Syrian Civil War, the BBC’s presentation of the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown and ‘austerity’, the BBC’s behaviour during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, the BBC’s treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Saville scandal…
There’s so much to be said about these topics, and their implications for democracy in a country like the UK. People should be aware of the history and background of this government-controlled media organisation before they let it in to their living rooms at night and feel the need to pay large sums of money to it on pain of criminal punishment. Before they let it into their heads, and let its thoughts become their own.
It isn’t your friend, and never has been.
It actively works against your economic and political interests, and has been doing so since before you were even born.
It is unreformable, because it is deliberately dishonest.
The second collection of works will present statistical analyses of BBC 6pm news recordings. These were collected during May and June 2017, both before and after the General election, and I shall be setting some metrics and gathering them into a dataset from DVD recordings of the news, and looking at what the actual data says about the BBC’s ‘impartiality’. All datasets and any salient feutures from my recordings will be made available on this website for other people’s scrutiny. I will explain all statistical methods and set metrics before I view the recordings and gather data, as is standard practise in the industry I work in.
I invite you to read about the BBC’s history, check out the data, and judge for yourself what type of organisation it is. Look beyond its friendly, glossy ‘gateway programs’ and ask yourself: does this organisation express the thoughts of the UK people, or the voice of their political masters? Could it, in fact, be part of the reason why the UK has evolved into such a dysfunctional, increasingly unequal, and bitter society – set apart from its European neighbours by a strange mix of arrogance, envy, and deeply-supressed anger?
Above all else, ask yourself why, in an era of deregulation and the ritualistic flogging-off of all public-owned state assets, the BBC is proudly allowed to endure…