The BBC has objected to being labelled as “government-funded media” on its main Twitter account.
Twitter describes its “government and state-affiliated media account labels” on its help page as: “Labels on state-affiliated accounts provide additional context about accounts that are controlled by certain official representatives of governments, state-affiliated media entities and individuals associated with those entities.”
The outlet reported that while its main account @BBC, which has 2.2m followers, has been given the label, other accounts that have a larger following associated with the BBC’s news and sport output are not currently being described in the same way.
The British broadcaster said it was speaking to the social media giant about the label, to resolve the issue “as soon as possible”.
Twitter’s new labelling of the BBC’s account comes after it did the same to US public broadcaster NPR’s handle.
Initially the social media firm described NPR as “state-affiliated media” – a label given to outlets including Russia’s RT and China’s Xinhua News.
The designation was later changed to the same “government funded media” tag now applied to the @BBC account. NPR had said it would stop tweeting from the account unless it was amended.
However, the controversy over the ‘government-funded media’ label highlights the need for transparency in the media industry. People have a right to know who funds the media and which states they may be influenced by. Journalists and media organizations must be accountable for their sources of funding and any potential conflicts of interest.
Gavin Lewis examines the BBC the myth that the BBC is a Public Sector media broadcaster rather than a full-on State Broadcaster touching on just a few of the BBC’s bias reporting…
BBC News Apparatus, Biased, a Danger to the World, and its Employees? – By Gavin Lewis
Last year flabbergasting many observers and many of its own members, media union Prospect/Bectu’s in-house magazine Stage, Screen & Radio’s Spring edition, published a positive spin commentary: Why We Need the BBC.
Yet Academic Tom Mills has documented the corporation’s historic service to power. World Service director Peter Horrocks has been blatant, and on the record, asking for more funds to fight a “global ‘information war”. And the myth that the BBC was a Public Sector rather than a full on State Broadcaster was finally shattered with the 1997 invention of the 24hr News Channel – part of this ongoing propaganda operation.
Editorially the News Channel chooses to classify Tony Blair’s victims as NOT part of the human race so beneath mention. Similarly, Israel’s annual death tolls of Palestinian children are NOT treated as part of humanity either.
In 2018 the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of Parliament confirmed that under Blair, Britain’s MI6 ‘took part’ and had ‘complicity in rendition and torture’ this massive story was downplayed by BBC as was the government’s subsequent apology and £500,000 compensation to Fatima Boudchar, who’d been ‘kidnapped and tortured’ while 5 months pregnant.
Soon after, Tony Blair appeared on radio with Nick Robinson and on tv’s The Andrew Marr Show. No questions were raised about the 1 million+ dead in Iraq or the torture that was practised under his government.
The BBC’s response to Fatima Boudchar’s torture was to give some of those sharing ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ for the practice – Ed Balls, and Jacqui Smith – public relations exposure on Strictly, Come Dancing. Despite his political record, Balls has now parlayed this PR opportunity into a tv presenter’s job on GMB News.
The comparative coverage of dark-skinned Middle Eastern victims of invasion, and white Ukrainians demonstrate, in ideological terms it’s the racist 19th century at the BBC.
Its Ukraine coverage also demonstrates the Orwellian nature of the BBC. In 2014 after the US-led coup, BBC News ran the story Neo Nazi threat in new Ukraine about the infamous Azov battalion. Now regurgitating Washington’s ideological spin line it is suggesting the presence of Nazis in Ukraine is just a Russian ‘claim’ – and it does this even when its own footage shows the Ukrainian military wearing Swastika insignia.
There’s insufficient space here to cite the BBC’s numerous examples of political bias – its interviewers shouting down, misrepresenting, even censoring Trade Unionists, Corbyn, Black Lives Matter activists etc and a service to power that recently had Fiona Bruce trying to positively spin ruling elite wife-beating.
Also difficult to adequately represent BBC’s ‘misreporting’ of its own ‘Star’ assets appalling behaviour – Jeremy Clarkson’s racism or Jimmy Savile’s criminality – while hounding out investigative journalists who attempted inconvenient exposés including Saville investigators.
Out went Meirion Jones, and Liz MacKean both winners of the Daniel Pearl Award with 26 and 23 years of respective service to the corporation behind them, along with former Panorama editor Tom Giles. But it is clear the BBC news apparatus is a destructive force in the world, our democracy and frequently for its own staff.
Afterword: Note: This article, with one content sentence difference in relation to the BBC Neo Nazi threat in new Ukraine story is substantially the rebuttal, Stage, Screen & Radio last year reneged on publishing.
Given the WWII allies executed members of the Nazi commentariat – Julius Streicher, William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) et al – for doing the enabling propaganda for the regime’s violence, the question deserves to be asked, how far down the same road has the BBC descended? And also if workers of Prospect/Bectu were employed at a nuclear weapons factory would the union, similarly in relation to financial self-interest be suppressing critiques of their employer?
Unions used to debate what areas of economic interest, and national wealth was invested – rather than capitulating to elitist violently destructive employment models of the ruling power.
The BBC has similarly given little or no priority to representing a generation of Iraqi babies that have been born dead or with deformities, a phenomenon that has coincided with the use of depleted Uranium munitions by the invading Western forces. The revelation that Israel had subjected Black Ethiopian Jews to forced contraception injections also got little broadcast prominence. Among many such examples, victims of Tel Aviv’s racially segregated kindergartens, don’t get much in the way of BBC representation either.
The recent Gary Lineker affair is also significant. Lineker is not a radical, or an activist, but at best a dinner-party liberal. His recent statements on government asylum policy, are roughly in line with the 1951 UN Charter on Refugees. But the BBC thought it better to try and discipline him, than do investigative journalism of the UK government that had gone extremist on the issue. The current deportation plan was originally an Australian policy. And Australia like New Zealand spent most of the 20th C operating a ‘whites only’ immigration system.
There has never been a Black BBC Director General. Given historic demographics that is not entirely shocking. However, it does serve to remind us that- totally side-stepping all equal opportunity legislation – the position is gifted by government appointment only. Similarly, historically it has been impossible to gain employment at the corporation without passing state security service vetting.
Clearly then the BBC fits the profile of a centralised state-affiliated broadcaster, including its service to power. And regardless of attempts to use BAME presenters to Blackwash that service to power, this embraces racism.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gavin Lewis is a freelance Black British mixed-race writer and academic. He has published in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States on film, media, politics, cultural theory, race, and representation. He has taught critical theory and film and cultural studies at a number of British universities. He is a member of the British trade union Bectu.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Labour Heartlands or its editors Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, individual or anyone or anything.