Saturday, August 29, 2009

James Murdoch - yet another reason I'll avoid Sky

I could hardly have avoided the ruckus at the Edinburgh TV festival because of the large numbers of mentions of it on Twitter. James Murdoch who runs Sky has not missed an opportunity to rubbish the BBC and the state of broadcasting in the UK generally. The first thing that caught my attention was his rather tenuous link between the pseudo-state run nature of the Beeb and Creationism in the US;

Creationism penalises the poorest in our society with regressive taxes and policies - like the licence fee and digital switchover;
It promotes inefficient infrastructure in the shape of digital terrestrial television;

He doesn't spare news and current affairs either;

And now, in the all-media marketplace, it threatens significant damage to important spheres of human enterprise and endeavour - the provision of independent news, investment in professional journalism, and the innovation and growth of the creative industries.

One of the funnier tweets I saw ran something link " can almost see the strings being pulled by his father".

Anyway - on the subject of news - does he really suppose that Sky News (or, heaven forbid Fox News) represent anything other than biased reporting coming straight out of the executive team at News Corp.? Something you can say about BBC News is that it is accurate and relatively unbiased. One of the things you often hear leaders of political movements against tyranny in other parts of the world say is that the World Service is the news source that kept them going. I've heard Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi say just that in interviews. Can you imagine if Sky or Fox News had the job of championing democracy in this world?

Regressive tax - The BBC offers remarkable value for money when compared to Sky and the ITV network. If you compare the £180 per annum cost of the BBC license fee with the cost of even the most modest Sky package or the £350 that the cost of ITV-based advertising places on the average family's annual grocery bill then you realise that the license fee is less of a tax than having to fund commercial TV. I have a choice if I pay the license fee - I do because I value the Beeb but I have several friends who don't have a TV in the house and so don't have to pay for the BBC but they do have to pay for commercial TV regardless.

Infrastructure - ITV couldn't make OnDigital work - they weren't willing to be in it for the long run and it took the BBC to make Freeview a success. Not everyone wants to pay north of £25 per month for a TV package and digital terrestrial makes a lot of sense. Added to this the relative poor technical quality of Sky's HD service against the superb 10mbit/sec H.264 pictures that can be delivered over DVB-T2 and you can see why I'm a bigger fan of Freeview (both technically and content-wise) than I am of Sky.
Sky has not been good for Britain - it represents the worst aspects of our society - celebrity obsession and trivialising of everything. Give me the Beeb (and particularly Radio 4) every day.

No comments: