About me
Archive
About me

BBC censorship

close

Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 13 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 13 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

The Beeb’s new editorial guidelines include one paragraph which is sparking quite a bit of debate:

we [will] install a delay when broadcasting live material of sensitive stories, for example a school siege or plane hijack. This is particularly important when the outcome is unpredictable and we may record distressing material that is unsuitable for broadcast without careful editing.

Some people have been saying that this amounts to improper censorship, and fails to show the world as it really is.

Clearly, the whole point of this guideline is to provide sanitised, ‘safe’ news coverage, so that innocent people being killed in a horrific fashion will not be shown to the nation. Some commentators have been asking why this is necessary, when we see such very graphic imagery in films and dramas. This, of course, misses the point entirely; there’s a vast difference between fiction and reality.

For example, to see one’s relative quite literally blown to pieces live on television would cause untold mental suffering to lots of people, and would add very little to the public’s percerption of the event. That said, perhaps nineleven would have had a little less impact on the US as a whole had the second plane not been shown smashing into the tower – a moment which may well have been censored under the new guidelines (though, to be honest, I’m fairly sure it would have been shown).

The most unworthy argument, certainly from my point of view, is the idea that the BBC should show things absolutely live, in case the public switch over to another network. Frankly, if people are voyeuristic enough to switch networks at a time of high crisis simply to see pictures a few seconds ahead of time, then I don’t think that BBC News 24’s more analytical and level-headed approach to news will suit them anyway.

Perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly, I trust the BBC’s editors in the judgement of when to use this new device. They should (and, I think will) be careful and deploy it only when absolutely necessary, but they certainly should not pander to the whims of those saying that a few seconds’ delay is too high a price to pay to maintain the dignity of the dying.

Once again, apologies for the delay – I keep pressing ‘Save’ instead of ‘Publish’ – it’s a new affliction to me, and one that I can’t easily explain, but it means that I don’t notice the post isn’t up until I come to write the next one. I’ll get over it soon. Just bear with me.

This 641st post was filed under: News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

Cortado (published 20th February 2019)

Room with a view (published 18th February 2019)

The Nativity × Gaudí (published 17th February 2019)

Photo-a-day 120: Rain (published 29th April 2012)

Correction (published 22nd August 2003)

It seems to be working… (published 7th October 2005)

Department of Health “mythbuster” (published 6th September 2011)


Comments and responses

No comments or responses to this article have been published yet.

Compose a new comment



Comment

You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.



The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.