Media Activist: The Revolution Will Be Televised (But Heavily Edited)

I grew up led to believe that the BBC was tried and trusted, a reliable source of information for all in Great Britain. But the events going on around me as a kid showed that this wasn't strictly true.

As neighbours of mine and our family's friends were protesting Margaret Thatcher's draconion closures of coal mining pits across South Yorkshire, we then saw the BBC's footage of one of the key clashes: the "Battle of Orgreave".

It was strange - people in the area who were there and had the injuries to prove it said the mounted police charged at the peacefully protesting miners, pursuing and attacking them with batons, busting open their heads, and some of the blokes tried to defend themselves by throwing rocks and stones back at the cops. But the BBC didn't show that at all: what it did show was miners mounting an attack of their own at the mounted police officers, who then charged at them in response, taking appropriate action on the "aggressors".

Led by the elite, it seemed that the BBC had captured the footage, then carefully re-edited it to portray the miners in a bad light. Many South Yorkshire people felt as betrayed as the Liverpudlians who read the lies in The Sun newspaper, claiming those Scousers in the Hillsborough disaster had behaved like thugs who hindered the rescue attempts of the "heroic" police (who were, in fact, later largely regarded responsible for the whole tragedy).

So, what's the difference between Murdoch's media and the BBC? Well, that's like asking the difference between an old lord and an oil tycoon - they may both be likely to screw you over, but they wouldn't get along very well at a dinner party.

You see, the BBC is engrained into the establishment and has been for years. Its loyalties are almost the same as when Sir John Reith was in charge: to Great Britain, to its rich history and its staid, sometimes stuffy institutions. Rupert Murdoch and Sky are much different to that - they don't really have a set code of conduct in the political landscape; nothing is sacred, and anything is up for grabs at any cost in order to divide and conquer the public at large and post a healthy profit.

I've said it before: the BBC, engrained into the establishment, is an old constant from Britain's imperialist days, but this means it transcends party politics. Sure, it will lean towards the establishment's elite (and is itself, arguably, controlled by them), but it won't favour one single party, because there's nothing to gain. Parties come and go, but the system stays. Ironically, the BBC have actually gone fairly easy on the politicians who have represented the interests of those hell-bent on breaking the Corporation (for example, Tony Blair and the Dr David Kelly scandal, and the union-busting Tories who are now hovering like vultures over the BBC itself as the election looms). In the choice between Sky and the BBC, the Beeb have become Britain's "evil of two lessers".

So odious are Murdoch's Sky that they are subjected to the same scorn the Bush Administration was in the United States: these deregulation-loving warmongers love the concept of a world in which everything can be bought and won, including government contracts - and are hated for it by the old conservatives who wanted smaller government, the letter of the law followed, and a working class there to exploit, not an underclass wallowing in poverty while jobs are shipped overseas. This is why the post-Obama right-wing is in turmoil, with a Republican Party overshadowed by scary Sarah Palin and her "tea party" movement (who knew she liked tea-bagging, as well as killing and skinning animals?)

As I was pushed around by police inside a "kettle" at the G20 protests last year, a Sky journalist got caught inside with us, still valiantly trying to do his job. We expressed our cynicism towards the corporation he represented, but he was certain he was able to tell the true story. Of course he could. But it would first have to get past his editors - and Murdoch's own restrictions - before ever seeing the light of day.

As with the miner's strikes, in this age of activist and audience, until we have a strong alternative media, the only way you can be certain of what happened is by making sure you're there. Because the revolution might be televised, but it will be heavily edited.

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