Ah no Mr. Cohen, no

I should make a declaration of interest here: I have taken Press TV\’s shilling. Did a few pieces with them when I was working in London.

So, that said:

If the clerical state bought British newspapers or set up websites, I would not call for regulators to compel them to be accurate and impartial, and ban them if they refused. I would argue against the clerics\’ doctrines and conspiracy theories, but accept that they had a right to put their views. They deny that same free speech to the subject population of Iran, but no matter: liberty means allowing freedom to people who have done nothing to deserve it.

Enforced impartiality in broadcasting, however, is still a cause that is worth defending from the attacks by corporations and governments which are aching for the right to propagandise and the betrayals of Ofcom officials who subvert fairness in the name of \”diversity\”. Society is entitled to say that there should be a corner in the marketplace of ideas where journalists and their managers and owners must respect notions of fairness and balance, particularly when radio and television stations continue to be controlled by the state or by wealthy individuals and corporations.

No, I\’m afraid not.

You could, just about, make a case for insisting upon impartiality and balance (something which sadly all too often becomes just spouting the coventional wisdom, see BBC over euro for example) when the number of TV stations was limited.

As it indeed it was at one point. Not just through government licencing but through the basics of the technology. The limits to spectrum. It was only possible to have four stations, perhaps five the last with slightly spotty coverage. Now we have cable and or satellite. We simply do not have that technical limit to the number of nutters and ranters who can broadcast their views at us.

The technical limitations are now almost the same as the number of blogs there can be: pretty much none.

In fat, I think it would be true to say that it is now cheaper to set up a TV station looking for national distribution than it would be to try and set up a newspaper with such.

Yes, the newspaper might still be cheaper to produce but the TV station distribution would be cheaper I hazard.

At which point no, the argument that we must preserve a scarce and precious resource from being overwhelmed by nutters fails I\’m afraid. Press TV, the BNP, the CPGB, GBCP, SWP, Judean Peoples\’ and Peoples\’ Judean, all should be allowed on the airwaves.

Quite apart from anything else we want to know what the nutters are saying so that we can reject them.

5 thoughts on “Ah no Mr. Cohen, no”

  1. And what impartial person is there to ensure that that mega corporation, the BBC is acting impartially?
    As Milton Friedman sais in a different context we simply do not have sufficient angels to make impartiality work.

  2. In a coiuntry liker the Uk where the very air is full of indoctrination and propaganda this will never happen.
    It is quite amazing , when viewed from the outside, how sheeplike the English have become. Especially when you read the comments if any prole speaks their mind.

  3. @ Pat and DearieMe: As far as I can work out, Mr Worstall is arguing for freedom and diversity on the airwaves, partly on principle and partly because new technologies have obviated previous restrictions. I myself agree with both those arguments.

    So I’m not sure what you’re both saying about the BBC. It’s a service which, like the equally state-funded Press TV, can be regarded or disregarded as you wish.

  4. It is, of course, also somewhat paradoxical to say that one must ‘allow’ free speech for all, even those who don’t ‘deserve’ it (??) and then to say : “Oh, except for the TV, they can’t have none.”

    “Free speech for all, except for broadcast TV which must of course be regulated” rather looks like the state massaging the medium, so to speak.

    This is usually the case with “free speech but…” arguments, of course.

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