Like many people in the UK, I have come to despise BBC TV. The other TV channels, too.
I haven’t watched TV at home for two years. Besides which, during that time, UK TV switched to digital, and my two dinosaur TVs are 22 and 16 years old respectively. So, I recently responded to a licence demand for £145 with “I no longer watch TV at home, and I do not have at the above address any television set capable of receiving digital transmissions.”
Now, I’m not too worried about the Jimmy Savile affair; such things happen. Surely, p(a)edophiles knowingly violate the human rights of their victims, and so are criminals. But they’re not nearly as bad as, say, soldiers that murder innocent Afghans or Iraqis in aggressive war. And producers that overlook indiscretions aren’t nearly as bad as politicians that make wars, taxes or bad laws on the basis of nothing but a crock of BS.
The Lord McAlpine scandal was a little different. Lord McAlpine must have looked, at first sight, like a perfect witch-hunt victim. A stuffed-up Tory (and so a favo(u)rite target for the BBC). Turning his back on political correctness (worse). And living outside the UK, too (in tax exile? Worse still). How to “get” him? Easy; accuse him of being a p(a)edophile. The masses will believe the BBC not the facts, and will excoriate him!
But Lord McAlpine was not such an easy victim after all. Not only was he innocent of the charge laid against him, but he could prove it, too. Furthermore, he had on his side what is left of the old ruling class; so his voice was heard.
Then there is the affair called “28gate.” Now the BBC is supposed, according to its charter, to be unbiased. To follow the facts, wherever they lead.
The BBC has long peddled green propaganda. And it has claimed again and again that human activities cause potentially catastrophic global climate change. That idea is, to say the least, dubious. But the BBC moved to full bias mode after a seminar held in January 2006.
According to a 2007 audit report by the BBC Trust, the BBC “has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus.” In other words, if you don’t agree with the “WE are causing catastrophic global warming” orthodoxy, your view won’t be broadcast, so won’t be listened to.
But who did most of those 28 “experts” turn out to be? Greenpeace. “Stop Climate Chaos”. Church of England. “International Institute for Environment and Development.” Tearfund. (Who are they? Ask Google). Oh yes, and BP had a representative there too. And “Npower Renewables.” There were, it is true, a few scientists included; but they were all supporters of the orthodoxy. There wasn’t a skeptic in sight.
Best? Scientific? Unbiased? Tirez l’autre.
The sting in the tail is that the BBC recently spent lots of money on lawyers to oppose a Freedom of Information request for the names of those attending that 2006 seminar. The BBC won the case, but a few days later a blogger discovered that list – and more – on the open Internet. Praise be to the Wayback Machine!
And it isn’t just the BBC whose broadcasting I have rejected. I have rejected advertising, as well.
For years, regardless of channel, I have switched off the sound when TV ad(vert)s came on. Now, I remember a long-ago time when some of them were actually fun. From my visits to the US in the ‘80s, I remember “Nothing works like a Chevy truck” and “Where’s the Beef?” I enjoyed those; though I didn’t buy. The last ad that didn’t turn me off was the Energizer Bunny of 1989. Now? Ads are mostly evasiveness and misdirection.
And I have rejected TV news. Now, I confess that I have “previous” in this area. Even in my teenage years, I would usually go out of the room when my parents put the news on. For I have always been quick to recognize bullshit and spin. And I am well aware that few, if any, of the stories on TV news are the whole truth – or even “nothing but the truth.” In the US, most news is biased according to the political beliefs of the faithful of the particular channel. Elsewhere, it is biased towards political correctness and away from facts and independent thought.
But “modern” news is even worse – it is so intrusive. For me, “breaking news” becomes broken news at the first repetition.
Things are hardly better with “entertainment.” There was a time – the ‘70s, and a little way into the ‘80s - when I found some entertainment program(me)s to be, for want of a better word, entertaining. No longer. Today’s “entertainment” seems to be no more than a series of “celebs,” most of whom I’ve never even heard of, behaving badly towards each other and the rest of us.
The one thing broadcasting does well is to relay the atmosphere of a live event – for example, a football match. But I don’t need to watch that at home – I can go to the pub, can’t I?
Reading what I have written here, you might be forgiven for thinking that I am a traditionalist conservative. But I am not that at all! If you doubt me, read my novelJ.
So then, I have given up on TV. Do I then, now live my life in isolation from other people and their ideas? Not at all. I use the Internet.
There are some very obvious advantages of the Internet over broadcasting as a source of information – and, indeed, of entertainment too. First, it’s under your control where you browse. You don’t have to accept other people’s choices or go out of the room, as I had to in my teens.
Second, you can browse when you want, without having to think ahead. Granted, since video recorders became available, you can record a broadcast for subsequent watching. But that still requires planning in advance.
Third, the Internet allows you to look back in time, to what sites looked like in the past. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Praise be to the Wayback Machine! Of course, it can be embarrassing, to those of us who run websites, to be caught “with our pants down.” But, to honest people, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
Fourth, the Internet enables you to compare and contrast different viewpoints on an issue. You aren’t stuck with one politically correct channel, or with several views none of which you find sensible. And better, if you can read a language or two, you aren’t even restricted to sites in English!
Fifth, anyone can get in, cheaply, on the Internet publishing act. Even me!
Sixth, even the mainstream print media feel themselves forced to have an Internet presence. You can, therefore, read most of the guff produced by “the papers” – if you want to – for free.
Of course, the Internet has problems. First, there’s a lot of garbage out there, as well as the good stuff. But that, to me, is merely an incentive to sharpen my judg(e)mental skills, to improve my (already decent) BS meter.
Second, the Internet is young. It’s starting to work quite well at providing information (here, I find myself tipping my hat to Google, and ever so slightly inclining it towards Wikipedia). It’s not yet even infant at providing entertainment; though YouTube, perhaps, may grow. Facebook and Twitter, as yet, I reserve judg(e)ment on.
Third, there are those that want to destroy or control the Internet, and to censor us and restrict our freedom of speech. Some of them have vested interests in the existing political system and in the old media. Others want to rule over and to harm innocent people. You know who – and what – they are.
Anyone with even a milligram of love of freedom in their bones must reject the Internet censors and their policies. For, if their ideas were worth anything, they would simply publish them (on the Internet, indeed!), and let individual people judge them as each sees fit. Those that want to censor others’ ideas are merely showing that their own ideas are worthless. And so, that they are worthless.
Fourth, the Internet copyright situation is a mess. Unlike some of my friends, I do not subscribe to the idea that there can be no such thing as copyright. I copyright my novel, indeedJ. For an author has invested a large amount of time and effort into his saleable work. He deserves to reap the rewards from what he has sown, according to how his readers judge its worthiness. And therefore, he deserves protection from those that would rip off his work, and sell it as if it was their own.
On the other hand, the only just aim of copyright laws is to protect the reasonable interests of the author (or his heirs or assigns). Therefore, copyright can only ever be a civil-law matter, and to try to make copyright violation a criminal offen(s/c)e is wrong. My view is that something publicly available without payment cannot be copyrighted. In other words, nothing on the Internet can be copyright, unless it’s behind a paywall. The only copyright infringement possible on the Internet is to take something from behind a paywall, and then publish it on the open Internet. And the only sensible sanction is damages for loss of reasonably expected income.
All that remains is for me to wish my readers much enjoyment of this small morsel of thought, and a happy beginning to the new era beyond the Mayan calendar.