On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC

The Right's reaction to the News International, Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal has been, bizarrely, to rail against the BBC, reports Daniel Elton.

If current allegations turn out to be correct, it appears as if News International in the UK was, in effect, a state within a state. Politicians feared it. The police were chums with it.

Free marketeers could once argue that parties cowered before it because of its sheer popularity. It may turn out that News International’s real ace up the sleeve was an ability to get a story any way possible, legal or illegal, and be confident that it would never be held to account. As the Conservative prime minster Stanley Baldwin put it, it enjoyed “power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”.

However, on planet Tory, this whole scandal firmly points the finger at the real problem with the media in the UK: The BBC.


As the right-wing The Commentator blog put it last week:

It is vital to see what lies behind all this, and to understand that if it wasn’t Murdoch it would be (and one day will be) someone else… What exactly do the Guardian and the Labour Party fear so much from this proposed [BSkyB] deal? It can’t be media plurality, as they claim, since they’re die hard supporters of the BBC, the state-funded media monolith that dominates international, national, regional and even local broadcasting…

What they fear, of course, is that that left-leaning monolith might get some serious competition. Not right now: Britain’s incredibly rigid broadcasting regulations prevent proprietors from mounting an ideological challenge to BBC biasMake no mistake about it. The Left’s agenda is about censorship and control. Nothing more, nothing less.

Meanwhile, Allistair Heath in today’s City AM, bizarrely mislaying the faith that popularity in numbers shows that an organisation has every right to be dominant, writes:

“News International is the biggest newspaper firm (though its market share is exaggerated by the exclusion of free papers) but those who believe it needs to be broken up forget that the BBC is bigger in radio, TV and the internet than Murdoch is in papers and the web (and in many cases the BBC has extremely high market shares and has crushed private competitors). Why then aren’t they  [NI’s critics] also calling for the break-up of the BBC to ensure competition?

In this morning’s Times (£), ConHome editor Tim Montgomerie argues:

“We have been hearing so much about the dominance of Murdoch, but I think it is essential that we look at the dominance of the BBC.”

This all rather ignores the reality of where we are. If one line of argument sums up the allegations at News International, it is that it used its dominant place in the market, and financial clout, to sweeten police officers and bully politicians, ensuring that the law of the land was only applied to it on an intermittent basis.

As a public corporation, the BBC could not do that even if it wanted to. Right-wingers are already crawling all over it with Freedom of Information requests. The BBC is, in essence, the most accountable media operation in the country. Until the Right stops allowing its hatred of the BBC to cloud a true assessment of the situation, it will continue to be on the wrong side of this story.

27 Responses to “On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC”

  1. Leon Paternoster

    Of course, it's all the incredibly biased, evil BBC's fault: //is.gd/4bl88W

  2. jaqi

    On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //bit.ly/oliL7R reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse

  3. scnnr

    On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //bit.ly/oliL7R reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse

  4. Daniel Elton

    @anthonypainter On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //t.co/fgf5LlS reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse

  5. Anthony Painter

    “@danielelton: On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //t.co/KuZHygL reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse”

  6. Andy May

    “@danielelton: On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //t.co/KuZHygL reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse”

  7. Darren Lewis

    “@danielelton: On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //t.co/KuZHygL reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse”

  8. B Bigelow

    demented, desperate RT @leftfootfwd: On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //bit.ly/oliL7R

  9. franksting

    @anthonypainter On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //t.co/fgf5LlS reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse

  10. dm

    On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //bit.ly/oliL7R reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse

  11. Soho Politico

    “@danielelton: On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //t.co/KuZHygL reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse”

  12. Fabian

    Couldn’t agree more. The right making a feeble attempt to divert attention away from the real issue.

  13. Political Scrapbook

    On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC //t.co/9TmICiJ

  14. A Sanguinarius

    On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC //t.co/9TmICiJ

  15. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘The BBC is, in essence, the most accountable media operation in the country’

    Given that it is publicly funded, this is the very least we have a right to expect. In terms of transparency, there is still much work to be done in exposing unjustifiable largesse.

    I agree that unless and until any evidence of paying policemen for information, hacking phones, blagging bank details etc appears (and I don’t for a moment expect that it will) the BBC cannot be compared with News International.

    But as soon as people start shouting about media plurality rather than illegal activity, comparisons become fair game and, in fact, Montgomerie et al are perfectly right to say that there should be a discussion about it.

  16. Ethan Bradley

    On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC //t.co/9TmICiJ

  17. Bob Ferry

    On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC //t.co/9TmICiJ

  18. Rocky Hamster

    RT @leftfootfwd: On planet Tory, hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC //t.co/YV7WKb4

  19. James Munro

    I think that we are just seeing the first few dominoes in a long row to fall. It probably won’t reach David Cameron, but I’m sure we’re going to be seeing more resignations within the government over the next few days. I saw an interview on Democracy Now! with one of the editors of the Guardian who’s worked on the story for years today, it was really interesting and was a good analysis of the severity of the situation, check it out: //www.democracynow.org/2011/7/18/a_british_spring_phone_hacking_scandal

  20. andrew 33626

    as a Brit now living in the USA I am following this story quite closely. This attack is tame compared to one that featured on Big Government’s website recently that suggested the BBC were a Government controlled propaganda machine. Of course, given the American Right’s grip on historical accuracy, they probably forgot that there was an election in the UK and it Murdoch’s chums got in (just).

  21. Leon Wolfson

    Yea Ed, by paying competitive salaries, the BBC might even be able to keep up it’s quality, and we can’t have that now, on planet Tory!

  22. Paul

    Total Bollocks

  23. post material girl

    On planet Tory, #hackgate shows the real problem is… The BBC: //bit.ly/oliL7R reports @DanielElton #NewsCorpse

  24. Green_Infidel

    Meanwhile on Planet Guardian, Sun readers are like puppets held on a string by Rupert Murdoch and his footsoldiers, such as Richard Littlejohn, and have no free thinking of their own. And Murdoch, thanks to his “monopoly”, can change elections at the click of a finger – with Sun readers paying for such a “service” out of their own pockets!

    Yet on Planet Guardian, there is no problem with the BBC having the largest market share, while placing all of its recruitment ads in the Guardian newspaper – yet being funded by a compulsory tax on televisions. Because the BBC is “impartial”… as if such a thing ever existed!

  25. Leon Wolfson

    Careful, known applications of that much spin have been known to leave their abusers dizzy.

  26. Leon Wolfson

    Oh look, the BBC spend TOO much effort being “impartial” in their science coverage.

    //www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/other/science_impartiality.shtml

  27. Cameron fuels right's hate fixation on the BBC | Left Foot Forward

    […] the BBC has a left-wing bias. Left Foot Forward has already documented much of the right’s attitude to the hacking scandal: ‘The left has is after our boy – Rupert – so […]

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