The BBC and the Myth of Public Service

As we imminently move to a change in the leadership of the government of the UK and a possible election, when it comes to objectivity let’s remember the BBC is accountable to the BBC Board. This consists of a Chair, selected by the government and appointed by the Queen, with a further 4 of the 14 members of the board also selected by the ruling government. Dr Tom Mills, Senior Research Fellow in Media Discourse at De Montfort University, has argued that as we approach elections the BBC start backing the party that will be in government in order to keep their funding. As Mr Johnson would put it, this is a quid pro quo. This makes business sense but isn’t about objectivity and truth. Those on the right will always say the BBC is on the left and vice versa. The BBC is unable ‘to articulate a notion of the public interest which is out of step with the imperatives of the corporate-state elite’ (Mills 2016: 214). And yet, as Mills goes on, many on the left still support it because it is ‘trustworthy’ in a world of fake news. The fakery of promises by the current contenders (e.g. Johnson saying he will put 20,000 police officers back on the streets after Theresa May eliminated 25,000), is obvious, but never really tackled by BBC political pundits. These staged ‘events’ are part of the market of ideology signifying zero which the public pays for. This isn’t even entertainment; neither tragedy nor farce, this is the post-democractic state’s way of offering fake choices for consumers (Tesco ergo sum/I shop therefore I am). Hunt and Johnson, both names that ‘stand’ for something else; but what does the BBC stand for?

Tom Mills, The BBC – Myth of a Public Service (London: Verso, 2016)

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