22November2019

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Unfree Media – State Stenography And Shameful Silence

A recent viral clip of Jeremy Corbyn featured vital truths about the corporate media that ought to be at the forefront of public consciousness in the approach to the UK General Election on December 12. The clip began:

'A free press is essential to our democracy. But much of our press isn't very free at all.'

Corbyn continued:

'Just three companies control 71 per cent of national newspaper circulation and five companies control 81 per cent of local newspaper circulation.

'This unhealthy sway of a few corporations and billionaires shapes and skews the priorities and worldview of powerful sections of the media.

'And it doesn't stop with the newspapers, on and offline. Print too often sets the broadcast agenda, even though it is wedded so firmly to the Tories politically and to corporate interests more generally.'

Corbyn's words were not from a recent speech. They were actually delivered as part of his Alternative Mactaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2018. But they remain as relevant as ever; hence being picked up anew by 'Tory Fibs', a grassroots socialist Twitter account.

Corbyn shone on a spotlight on the BBC:

'the BBC should be freed of government control, democratised and made representative of the country it serves to help it do that.

'The BBC is meant to be independent, but its charter grants governments the power to appoint the chair and four directors of the board and set the level of the licence fee.'

As regular readers will be well aware, Media Lens has long highlighted the BBC's lack of independence and, more particularly, the insidious role of BBC News in protecting the establishment, promoting deference to the royal family and class system, as well as deflecting scrutiny of state and corporate crimes.

Corbyn concluded on the state of the media today:

'We need to set journalists and citizens free to hold power to account, by breaking the grip of tech giants and billionaires on our media.'

All this is arguably never more evident than when a General Election is looming. Right now, established power is fighting tooth and nail to maintain its control on society. Corporate media, including gatekeepers like the BBC and the Guardian - 'thus far and no farther', in the words of Noam Chomsky - play a central role in maintaining the destructive status quo.

Read more: Unfree Media – State Stenography And Shameful Silence

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