We are, joyously, about to conduct the perfect test of whether the British media is in fact biased. Because at least two groups are trying to set up avowedly biased TV stations. If those succeed then the current media is indeed biased. If they don’t, well, perhaps not.
The secret to understanding this is that a media business is a business. It chases the audience – yes, this is proven many a time, it does not form it, it chases it – and that means that it appeals to extant ideas and prejudices, not educates into or out of.
One proof of the bias of US TV stations is the success of Fox News. Murdoch spotted that there was no one conforming to how a significant chunk of the population felt and thought. So, aim at them and build a network – worked well. Makes, or at least did last time I looked, pots of money.
Rival efforts are under way to launch a Fox News-style opinionated current affairs TV station in Britain to counter the BBC.
One group is promising a news channel “distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents” and has already been awarded a licence to broadcast by the media regulator, Ofcom, under the name “GB News”. Its founder has said the BBC is a “disgrace” that “is bad for Britain on so many levels” and “needs to be broken up”.
A rival project is being devised in the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire by the former Fox News executive David Rhodes, although it is unclear whether it will result in a traditional TV channel or be online-only.
The success of one of both of these would show that a considerable portion of the population’s thoughts – OK, prejudices if you like – are not currently being catered to. That’s how they will become, if they do, successful, by sating those previously unassuaged desires. Thus success would mean that the current UK media is at least ignoring if even not directly antithetical to those desires.
The challenge both projects face is the UK’s strict broadcast rules on due impartiality, enforced by the media regulator.
Impartial of course depends upon who it is declaring what is impartial. Which is the very point that will be revealed by the possible success.
The initial claim of media bias is not that there’s a cabal that nays no darkie jokes no never, rather that the people doing the defining think that no darkie jokes should ever be made therefore that’s what they describe as being impartial. It’s a cultural censorship not a cabalistic one. As such it’s also quite possibly unthinking, not self-aware of what it is doing. Things that cannot be said in Islington drawing rooms may not be said on TV sorta thing. Which leaves rather a lot of people who don’t hold Islington drawing room opinions outta luck.
The very proof of this being that if a TV station starts up saying non-Isling.dr things and succeeds like wildfire then we know those views were being censored by that unconscious bias.
It’s all going to be rather fun, isn’t it?