“The manufacturing of consent” – is the UK’s phone-tapping row just the tip of a titanic iceberg?

Are we seeing the early stages of an avalanche which will fundamentally change British society?

Newspapers bribing the policemen charged with guarding the Royal Family…journalists giving false hope to the parents of murdered children and invading the privacy of hundreds if not thousands of people,  in a desperate and cynical search for stories…politicians running scared of newspaper proprietors and hiring their discarded minions in the face of dire warnings. And we are told there is more, and worse, to come.

Who the hell’s in charge? Does ANYONE come out of this with their reputation intact?

Yes, actually,  Britain’s broadcasters are looking pretty good. EvenBSkyB (now surely never to be wholly owned by Rupert Murdoch) is effectively regulated both internally and externally. The BBC, often accused of bias of one kind or another, is squeaky clean by comparison with the oldest names in what used to be called Fleet Street…and let’s not forget that Greg Dyke fell on his sword as DG of the BBC for reasons which were proved not long after to have been almost wholly spurious. But unlike the “flame-haired temptress” as Private Eye calls her, he carried the can for his staff when he didn’t really need to.

Broadcasting in Britain, unlike some radio and TV elsewhere and just about any UK national newspaper, can be very largely relied on to tell it like it is. No kidding. The regulation is in place.

Moreover we may be seeing the beginning of a new alliance, between public service broadcasters (including ITV, which although “commercial” has through Ofcom a public service remit) and the “connected society” which is ever more vociferously using social media to voice their concerns. (Did you know Ofcom has received over 150,000 submissions urging them to veto Murdoch’s Sky takeover?)

Paul Mason is Economics Editor of the BBC Newsnight programme. He has written just about the best summing up of the current situation I have seen so far.

Read it here.

PS Apologies to regular readers expecting a technology slant to appear in a post on this site. Sometimes we have to look at the big picture.

About Adrian Scott
Adrian Scott is a MAC associate having had a long career in broadcasting and broadcast technology; he specializes in Market Research and Marketing Communications.

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