Posts Tagged ‘UK Media’

Time for a Different BBC Scotland (and STV Too!)

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, November 24th 2012

The BBC is in crisis. BBC Scotland faces significant job cuts, a strike ballot of staff, and the prospect of industrial action.

At a UK level, the BBC has hardly been out of the news in the last few weeks. There has been the Jimmy Savile scandal, a substantial payout to Lord McAlpine, and George Entwistle having to resign as Director General.

The BBC’s problems go much deeper than these immediate problems north and south of the border, and touch on what it is and how it sees itself, and crucially how it understands (and misunderstands) the nature of the UK.

The BBC in Scotland ever since it first began broadcasting here has had controversies over limited autonomy, the quality of programmes, and a management which has to face two ways at the same time: to London and Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

My Own Personal Enlightenment: How the Internet is Remaking Us

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 27th 2011

One of the biggest stories of this week was the decision of Steve Jobs, Chief Executive of Apple, recently rated the world’s most valuable company, to stand down.

Apple has changed our planet. It has given us the ipad, iphone, itunes and so much more, importantly leading the way in integrating fashionable products with ingenious software.

We now live in an age redefined by Facebook, Twitter and the conversations and connections the Internet offers. There have been the supposed ‘Twitter’ revolutions in Iran and Egypt, social media used to great effect in Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign and nearer to home, by the SNP this year. Not forgetting the contested role of social media in the recent riots in England.

What does this ‘Brave New World’ offer? A new sense of the self, of empowerment, personalisation, creating new online identities and new communities whether geographical, identity or interest? Read the rest of this entry »

The Time for a Scottish Media Voice

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, July 9th 2011

The world has been turned upside down these last few days. There have been elements of an old fashioned morality play and Citizen Kane all rolled into one.

Things have been talked about in public which you are not meant to say in front of the children. Ed Miliband and Labour have finally after years turned on News International freed from their previous fear. David Cameron has tried desperately to find his moral compass and appeared at least temporally to have lost his political touch.

The consequences of this are going to be many and multi-fold. The Whig history of the British press has become one of the accepted accounts of the UK: of how through Victorian times it aided liberty and literacy and once press taxation was repealed in 1853-61 came into its own. Whig history is constantly invoked to oppose change: the power of advertising rather than state control seen in its role in the death of the ‘News of the World’, and the supposed perils of regulation.

The argument goes: you may not like the British press, they may not be pretty or well-behaved, but they challenge power and expose wrong doing. This argument doesn’t hold up. The British media and most crucially the Murdoch owned News International is an integral part of the British establishment. The light of investigation they choose to shine is never into the heart of the system, but on badly behaved footballers, loose royals and people on the make. And as we now know, some of the most vulnerable people we can conceivably imagine. Read the rest of this entry »

The Crisis of the British State and the End of the Cameroon Conservative Project

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 8th 2011

This week has been a seismic moment in British politics and public life. Not just for Rupert Murdoch and News International, but for much deeper and serious issues about the condition of British democracy and about who has power and influence in contemporary society. In short, this goes to the heart of what the British state has become and to the role of our political classes in all of this.

This may seem like a schadenfreude moment for many who have despaired at the profound influence of the Murdoch empire across British life, and who are feeling a little spring in their step upon seeing Andy Coulson, former editor of the ‘News of the World’ and Downing Street Head of Communications charged by the police, while David Cameron and his Tory-led Government struggle to deal with events.

The Cameroon Conservative project is now in major crisis. It had a clear-cut logic and sensibility. After three election defeats the party could no longer go on with its own obsessions, comfort zones, talking to itself and lecturing us like a pub bore on tax, asylum and immigration, law and order and Europe.

This approach drew explicitly and openly from New Labour, realising that the Tory brand had become the problem and had to be detoxified and then, the whole edifice modernised, renewed and reconnected with voters. This is what led to Cameron’s famous opposition moments, ‘hug a hoodie’ and the husky photo shoot, along with his brandishing his green credentials. Read the rest of this entry »

What is going on in the BBC’s Little Britain?

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, May 25th 2011

Britain has been undergoing dramatic change in these last few weeks. The Scottish Parliament elections, and the arrival of the first ever majority SNP Government following its landslide victory, has been a story of international reach and consequences covered the world over. Strange then that our British media have struggled to address these circumstances other than by caricature or silence.

The BBC in particular has not had a good post-election time. The ‘Today’ programme has had Alex Salmond on a couple of times, and ran a number of serious items, but the rest of the BBC has not fared so well. ‘Newsnight UK’s’ one foray north of the border involved a hackneyed, cliché ridden piece on independence by Jackie Long which unsurprisingly found a northern land committed to a simplistic, jokey separatism (1). And then there is the strange case of BBC’s ‘Question Time’.

Now BBC ‘Question Time’ is still, despite all the media changes and transformation of how current affairs is presented in the media, one of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programmes. It is placed, schedule-wise and in feel, to gain a large mainstream audience. It has a Dimbleby front it that tells us it is important, or thinks it is. And it is on a Thursday night followed by that other BBC secret weapon – Michael Portillo – who, even without Diane Abbott, is seen to pack a punch! Read the rest of this entry »