Wednesday, 25 July 2007

BBC trust

The BBC hopes to win back viewer trust with honesty after a flow of scandals ranging from fake competitions (and winners) on Comic Relief and other programs, to deceiving footage of the Queen. I find it interesting that honesty and clarity seem to be major tenants of the British entertainment industry, as they should be, because in the US it couldn't be more different. People expect deceit when they turn on most entertainment-infested TV news, or at least they should; reality television is everything but real. And many people know and understand that. Whereas in the BBC's case snowballing scandals caused largely because of the in-and-out nature of the entertainment industry (i.e. young employees there for only a short time) and an atmosphere that seems to not match corporation slogans of honesty and fairness.

Mark Thompson, the BBC's director, is working hard to change that, and he seems to be a competent enough person to clean up all this. The BBC Trust — the body at the top of the BBC's pyramid of governance — thinks so. Thompson has outlined measures to be taken — more serious, I might add, than the typical non-BBC reaction might be — including a suspension of competitions, editorial leaders, and a promise for new staff guidelines and stricter measures to offenders of the rules that form the foundation of public trust in the BBC. Honesty is very important to the BBC, as Thompson points out.

The BBC is a very large body with many programs on all the mediums: radio, internet, television. It has a huge amount of programming and deals with many production teams... it is, in a word, gigantic. Personally I view it's news as the standard for the news industry; Today, Newsnight and BBC News Online are examples of excellent news content. In addition their interviews are tough and to-the-point, which interviews should be like... however I do not see this kind of interviewing — which forces the interviewee to go beyond talking points and propaganda and actually lets the news consumer to get something worthwhile out of it — in the American mainstream media. Also the BBC often has the kind of reporting on global events unseen in most media circles, such as its dispatches from Burma or Iraq, as well as less bleak areas of the world.

In a fast-moving industry and with such a large body there are bound to be plenty of problems, which is still no excuse for these deceitful scandals. At least the BBC deals with them, and, being a government-funded body (via a Royal Charter), it is forced to. Most other content isn't held to the same standards; maybe that is why the BBC is so good, at least in my opinion. If only trust and integrity instead of sensationalism and deceit and opinionizing were qualities of many of the BBC's counterparts in the entertainment and news industries.

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