Sunday 27 May 2018

BBC and Sceptre

If there's one thing the BBC does well (and the BBC still does many things well) it's covering major royal events - despite the glaring exception of the BBC's 2012 Diamond Jubilee coverage, which was widely considered a fiasco. 

I agree, for example, with what seems to be the general sentiment that their coverage of the Harry-Meghan wedding was excellent. None of my royalist friends at work found anything to object to, or even thought of finding anything to object to. I can well imagine that 18 million of HM's UK subjects watched it, someway or other, mostly on the BBC.

Republicans (of the anti-monarchy rather than the elephantine US kind) accuse the BBC of "fawning" and being "sycophantic", and are doing so again tonight as BBC One marks 65 years since Her Majesty's coronation by re-broadcasting an hour-long programme called The Coronation (see here) soon followed by Countryfile 'Royal Special' from Windsor.

This is an odd one as far as BBC bias matters are concerned. You wouldn't expect left-liberal metropolitan BBC types to be royalist - and the BBC Twitter accounts I follow show that many if not most of them are deeply cynical about the monarchy (just as expected) and enjoy cheerily quipping at the monarchy's expense.

But I also see BBC people - often including the self-same cynics - then exulting in just how good the BBC is at covering such events and sounding as if they're cheerfully getting caught up in the royal event themselves.

So, adopting a hand-wringing pose, should the BBC be biased in favour of the British monarchy when a small but not negligible proportion of the population is in favour of abolishing the monarchy? 

Well, we are a constitutional monarchy, and most people still seem to support the monarchy. (Declaration: I'm an arch-royalist). The BBC must reflect that and play its constitutional part. If sentiment changes and we become a republic then the BBC should support the new republic and play its new constitutional part.

As they say on exam papers, discuss (if you want to)...

1 comment:

  1. The point to understand I would say is that the BBC always has a policy. How this policy emerges is not entirely's probably a kind of group-think, consensus sort of thing, bit like decisions of Japan's military in WW2 and clearly involving reading of Guardian leader articles.

    If the BBC thought the monarchy was a serious road block to its ambitions it would be in full-on republican mode. You can see this with the House of Lords. The BBC has generally been oppositional towards the Lords in previous decades as being a brake on "progress" (as defined by the BBC). But come the Brexit vote, we suddenly get a very indulgent, even affectionate, portrait on BBC TV harking back to non-judgmental documentaries from years ago. The BBC had already identified the Lords as useful to its ambition of effectively stopping Brexit. That's why all the negative coverage of the Lords has stopped.

    My view is the BBC always does something for a reason.

    In the view of the BBC the monarchy is a completely irrational institution that will eventually be replaced but until then it can serve a useful purpose in accelerating social change, pacifying opposition to the BBC's agenda and neutralising lines of attack on their agenda (if Prince William says we live in a free country with free speech, who are we to say he's wrong?). That's how they see it in my view. In private none of them would admit to any emotional attachment to the institution (as opposed to individuals within it).


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