Skip to comments.BBC Bringing 'Sophisticated' News to America
Posted on 06/06/2006 8:26:45 PM PDT by tbird5
To much fanfare, and a fair amount of predictable gushing from its liberal admirers in the US, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the state-owned bureaucracy that bestrides the UK cultural and political landscape like a colossus, launched a 24 hour news channel in America last week.
Billboards in Manhattan bellowed the BBC's message to passers- by, promising that the corporation would be bringing "news beyond your borders" into Americans' parochial little lives.
The Beeb, as it is known back home, evidently senses an opportunity. It is steadily expanding its deals with public radio stations across the country to carry its World Service news. Online it is already far and away the most used website based outside the US.
Emboldened, its mangers now clearly think the time is now ripe to enter the US TV news market and offer a distinctive product. A few years ago the former boss of the BBC attacked American television news for too slavishly following the government line. Instead the BBC now says in its publicity, it will offer "both sides of the story".
Roughly translated this means the BBC thinks that, while the vast majority of Americans are morons who are perfectly content to swallow right-wing rubbish from their political and media masters, there is an educated and sophisticated elite on the coasts that feels somehow its worldview is underrepresented by the current giants of the mainstream media in the US.
This might come as surprise to Americans casually familiar with the output of CNN, CBS, NBC or ABC but the BBC is happy anyway to add its own little three-lettered logo to the vast and steaming alphabet soup of liberal bias.
Why should anyone worry?
Let me instantly declare an interest. I'm an employee of the Times of London, part of Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp global media company, and I'm also an occasional contributor to Fox News here in the US. If you think that makes me an imperfect commentator on the BBC, let me also say that I worked for the corporation for seven years.
The truth is, whoever says it, that the BBC is a publicly funded leviathan, accountable to virtually no-one but itself with increasingly global ambitions, ambitions that in a world of rapidly converging media outlets, are eminently achievable.
It's certainly true that the BBC is run by some of the very cleverest people in the UK. Its drama remains unsurpassed, its entertainment highly popular and it exports its output around the world.
But its producers and managers share one thing in common -a public-sector, European liberal, metropolitan elite view of the world.
Now this is all very well and unobjectionable to the ordinary viewer if all you're watching is elegant and expensive productions of Anna Karenina or the progenitors for shows such as Survivor or American Idol.
But it creates some very visible problems of truth and fairness in the free world when you're talking about the globe's largest news provider, which is what the BBC now is.
BBC News is produced by a very large team of ideological confreres, who, with a very few exceptions subscribe to the smart London set's view of the modern world.
This thinks, roughly, that capitalism is some sort of conspiracy by evil men against the ordinary working stiff and that big government and higher taxes are the only route to a fair society.
It believes that Europe is the acme of human civilization and that if only Britain and America would emulate it (or in Britain's case, completely subsume itself within it) the world would be a much better place.
It declines to call Islamist terrorists terrorists because the word is a value-loaded one, but it never fails to pore in infinite detail over every "atrocity" committed by America or British forces in Iraq.
It thinks in any case that the war on terror was all got up by oil industry tycoons and clever neocons and that there is no real threat from violent political Islamism at all.
It believes Palestinians are the innocent persecuted victims of violence and imperialism (a recent Jerusalem correspondent memorably confessed to weeping openly when she caught sight of Yassir Arafat's coffin at his funeral in Ramallah) and that the murder of innocent Israeli citizens is on a moral par as victims of war with the killing of Palestinian terrorists by Israeli forces.
It scoffs at religious belief (the last head of its vast religious affairs department was an agnostic), but it holds the doctrine that man--made global warming is true with the passion of any enraptured spiritualist awaiting Judgment Day.
It believes passionately in equal rights for homosexuals, though of course it urges cultural sensitivity when dealing with countries where such "deviancy" is rewarded by execution.
(For examples, almost daily, of all of these traits, see websites such as biased-bbc.blogspot.com)
But it is in its America coverage that it come gleefully into its own.
To the BBC's editors and reporters America is a country of backward, grass-chewing, Bible-toting religious fundamentalists, ignorant of almost everything that goes on beyond their shores. Americans are obese, gun-wielding fanatics devoted to despoiling the planet with their greed for ever larger cars and ever heavier hamburgers. The US is a country of grotesque inequalities of income and wealth in which the few rich laud it over the indigent many, fuelled by tax cuts and the hacking away of welfare programmes.
Its political coverage at least is balanced. This says Republicans are greedy, warmongering crooks but Democrats are no better - they're merely paler versions of ignorant nationalist capitalists.
BBC reporters travel the country in a state of bewilderment and bemusement at the pathos of it all. They approach their subjects like missionaries venturing into a leper colony - with an odd mixture of contempt and pity, the perfumed handkerchief stuck firmly under the nose to prevent contamination. Safely back in Washington and New York, of course, they all live high on the hog, fully enjoying the fruits of American economic success and low tax rates. Oddly enough they're nearly always reluctant to leave the imperialist superpower for the social democratic nirvana back home and many find ways to extend their tours.
And now the BBC wants to bring all of that accumulated knowledge and reporting expertise from around the world into American homes -and beyond.
Last month Mark Thompson, the corporation's director general, told the Financial Times that his long term aim was to take on Google and Yahoo as the principal global provider of information.
Of course, you don't have to watch, so what's the problem?
The problem is that while the BBC funds some of its international coverage from commercial sources, its prestige and brand prominence owe entirely to its vast $5bn worth of public funding back home.
This is paid for by a compulsory (yes, this is Europe after all) levy on every household in the UK (on pain of imprisonment for non payment).
Steadily using its privileged poll tax base and the massive resources it provides, the BBC is strangling creativity and enterprise - not just in domestic television and radio, but on the web. With more and more newspaper and magazine readership moving online the BBC is well placed to knock lumps out of large numbers of local and national newspapers - all the while stealthily tilting the world's political consciousness firmly leftwards.
In happier times, Americans' exposure to the BBC was limited to gems such as Fawlty Towers and Are You being Served?
In future it will be no laughing matter.
Where's the BARF ALERT?
NPR has been broadcasting the BBC World News for years. Hasn't had much of an audience penetration in the US at all.
As long as they show mysteries, I'll watch, if they show their news readers, I'll pass.
LOL. Most Euro's I know are ignorant fools. And one common denominator is that they all watch BBC.
I don't see pimping Socialism and trashing America as being "sophisticated." Then again, I'm not a liberal DemocRAT.
The BBC news seems to be the only place to get international news anymore. The networks and cable news shows don't show anything going on in the rest of the world, while the BBC still does.
The British armed forces don't want the BBC broadcasting to their troops in wartime. That tells me all I need to know about which side they're on.
I enjoy watching BBC America on cable, but their news is dryer than a popcorn fart.
Another channel not to be on my favorites list, thus not on my remote.
American news sources tend to cover the United States mainly. The BBC offers a larger area of coverage, although it tends to be liberal. Plus, their website is tidily arranged, whilst many American news websites are a riot of color and haphazardly arranged.
I had to live outside the US for a few years to realize how inwardly directed our news is. American ignorance of what's going on in the rest of the world is a fertile ground for the jingoism that makes for the Ugly American impression both at home and when traveling.
But how to get news from other countries? Many countries have English versions, but for one website with global coverage, the BBC still stands out.
BBC is the same as CBS a big load of BS
Didn't we already cut the chord with England?
Their motto can be: "Not necessarily true, but it is sophisticated!"
What's wrong with jingoism?
BBC news has to be the most dispiriting experience one can have watching television. I watched a few newscasts when they first became available many years ago and that was it for me.
CBS does seem to be more liberal than other liberal networks, such as NBC; Dan Rather's influence?
LOL, i really cant tell them apart they are all about the same on the liberal bias meter i believe.
They are just another pack of garden variety commies. Utterly useless to civilized men.
I literally cannot watch the BBC. The level of self-hatred and the whiny incessant talk of oppression puts me in the foulest mood imaginable. I have no idea how the Brits swallow that mess.
I use them as a news source because the do a decent job of reporting international news.
But I try to ignore any of their coverage of the middle east, and especially the palestinians, or the US and Israel.
Their coverage on those topics is biased crap.
The BBC makes CMM seem conservative.
I listen to the BBC about 4 nights a week. Yes, I've had to turn the dial when they get crazy about the Palis, but there is no other news source for information on Africa and India. The US news, even FOX, shows so little non-US/European news that I wager most Americans have no idea of what is going on in the rest of the world. I think their in-depth stories with people living in these different areas are great; it's what the Beeb does best.
It's easy to say, 'who cares about what's happening in Africa?' but events outside our borders are important. For the most part, I find the BBC far less in-your-face biased than NPR, which is almost impossible for me to listen to.
I work with a lot of internationals who get news from online newspapers and internet radio from their country. It's surprising what is and isn't covered in this country, that gets covered overseas. I'm not talking about bias, but just about current events for which our news services don't seem to have time.
Aside from news, BBC 7 has some great radio plays; like old time radio in this country. They're a real joy to listen to, if you like that kind of thing.
Just like with CNN, the BBC believes that if you have newscasters who talk with a english accent and wear glasses, it's supposed to make the news automatically more intelligent.
I agree. I think Fox news needs to do a program in the evening covering international news. It probably would have very decent ratings.
Fox's idea of international news is having Greta talk about Aruba for an hour. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Well...it's a charming accent and I do enjoy hearing about some places I don't usually hear about, but my initial, very personal impression is that they aren't very bright. That's my impression of NPR as well but the Beeb has better cleavage...
" I wager most Americans have no idea of what is going on in the rest of the world"
Most of the British have no idea what's going on in Africa either.
BBC news inside Britain has very little on Africa, unless there is a new famine or war to report on.
On average, I'd say Americans probably know about Asia than the British do.
So how is the BBC going to be any different than the canadian version- the CBC? It's all the same leftist liberal crap, paid for by the taxpayers of the country of origin.
The BBC ceased to be relevant on May 8, 1945.
This of course only reinforces others belief that we don't care about the rest of the world. Who then treat us with a condescension that is humiliating when it isn't merely annoying. I've had foreigners assume I'll not be able to pronounce the name of the country they come from, (once an eastern European I met was shocked that he didn't have to explain where Moldova was to me). Needless to say I was miffed at his surprise.
So of course this attitude about Americans just gets our hackles up and tends to make one act like we actually don't care. I think those who are the most hurt by this attitude even believe they have stopped caring.
But I'm only hoping this is the perception of your average Joe Six-Pack or Pierre Cheeseater. Add a healthy dose of revolutionary agitator's rhetoric in this or that foreign media, and, not a small amount of a superiority complex and you get modern Anti-Americanism, and the American reaction which feed each other in a reciprocal relationship. What with the populism which drives and empowers the respective governments, it must be a diplomatic nightmare. Nothing like the almost genteel regard for one's enemies, let alone allies, which was common enough 200 years ago.
Ahhh . . . a BBC word meaning Marxist, liberal, USA hating, globalist clap-trap.
Good idea. I'd watch - and, I'd rather watch FOX then listen to the BBC, just in terms of supporting our own. But then, what would I use to fall asleep? Coast to coast am? : )
Of course there's information on the Internet. I mentioned the foreign websites my coworkers look at. As do I at times.
However, I enjoy listening to radio (hence the FReeper handle) because I can do several things at the same time.