Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Monday, June 03, 2013

Free speech for who?

Marx observed that the ideas of an age are the ideas of its ruling class. In to-day’s contemporary society, we are saturated by vast quantities of words and images conveyed by the mass media. Workers must always remember that the mainstream media (whatever its hue) is an instrument motivated by ideas and interests that are contrary to their interests. Everything that is published or broadcasted is influenced by one idea: that of serving the dominant class and of combating the working class. The ugly truth is this: that the media is owned by the capitalist class to support its pitiless work but the customers and subscribers are those they attack, members of the working class. Most media are obliged to address a working class audience, because that is the largest. Unless they reach this audience they will fail as businesses. To gain profits a newspaper or TV channel must get readers by the million. The media, by their nature, spread certain ideas and . and being such an important asset for making profits, must of necessity defend modern capitalism. This means, in short, that the press must spread those ideas which are opposed to the labour movement. We see here the explanation why capitalist news denounce labour activists and conversely, why they praise those who plead for an industrial truce and who advocate that the interests of capital and labour are identical. The capitalist media must defend the propertied interests for the simple reason that the capitalist mass media is, itself, one of the greatest of the modern propertied interests.

However, they have to present the capitalists’ view of the world in a form that will be palatable to people whose entire life is spent in conditions of exploitation and oppression that are the direct result of capitalism. This is quite a trick, but the media have had more than a century of practice.

Millions buy newspapers, millions watch cable and satellite TV contributing to the power of the rich to determine public opinion. It rarely enters the heads of many workers that what is presented as news and current affairs is artfully cooked up to steer the workers views so they reflect and replicate the media’s own politics. When you read your morning paper or watch the nightly news are you being offered facts or propaganda? Who furnishes the information for your thoughts about life? Regardless of indignant denials the press and TV were complicit and are accomplices with the government in the manufacture of misinformation.

Every day workers can see the fruits of this manipulation that the simplest of facts are presented in a way that favours the ruling class and damns the working class. Has a strike broken out? The workers are always wrong, they are being unreasonable in their demands. Is there a protest? The demonstrators are always wrong, they are always extremists. The government passes a law? It’s always for the best of intentions even if it’s not. And if there’s an electoral, political or administrative struggle? The best candidates are always those of the ruling parties. Facts are falsified in order to mislead, delude or maintain in ignorance the public. The gullibility of workers to the mass media appears limitless. We fall for the same lies and deceptions over and over again.

The media can adopt a wide range of positions, while remaining entirely within the framework of capitalism. Sometimes newspapers or TV channels are directly linked to particular groups of capitalists, and so to the political party they are held to favour, and carry material directly promoting their view of the situation. Explaining why capitalist media has different positions in a bourgeois democracy isn’t difficult – the capitalist class is not united. The media reflect these differences and promote the interests of one group or another. Socialists would expect to find a diversity of views among the capitalist media, not uniformity. But despite being the property of particular capitalists , the content of the media addresses issues that are matters of concern for capitalism in general. The news agenda and op-eds are framed in terms of the needs of society as a whole. It is necessary to remember that a free press is only “free” to a propertied class which has the economic wealth to subsidise and maintain their voice.
The labour movement has stumbled and fallen and risen again; been seized by courts, slandered and libeled by the media to be disowned by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened with brimstone and fire by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by opportunists, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by officials, but, notwithstanding all this, it is today the most vital defence the worker has ever known and its mission is the emancipation of the workers of the world from the thraldom of wages. The most vital thing about the World Socialist Movement is its educational propaganda - its power to shed light and to develop the workers’ capacity for thinking, to teach them their economic class interests, to imbue them with a revolutionary spirit. Workers need a a media as formidable as our class enemy’s to act as a fearless and uncompromising advocate. The State currently control the TV and radio through legislation but it is for every member of the working class to buy and read the printed journals and visit the websites of the socialist movement. The expense and exertion of supporting the socialist media is but a trifle.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Bad News

A study in America found that over a three-year period, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN aired just 141 stories in which unions and the labor movement were either the primary or secondary topic. That's out of an estimated 16,000 news stories aired on the four networks, so less than 0.3 percent of all news stories. Not only were just the unions not getting much attention in the news their view was being ignored. CBS did not use even one union source in 24 percent of its stories on labor; NBC omitted union voices from 19 percent of the stories.
The pattern of portrayal of unions was negative, with workers critical of unions more likely to be heard. The report found that news about labor and unions related to the field of education and the automobile industry included more governmental sources than labor sources. “The news treatment thus presents the government as the organized party willing to provide solutions, but not the labor/union negotiators”.

These findings resemble those of past studies, such as the Glasgow Media Group which have found that media coverage is often slanted against collective economic action and toward business and elite interests. Unions are portrayed as hurting competitiveness, and thus costing jobs. The media serve their masters well. It has turned worker against worker, and particularly against the unions.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Football democracy

One of Scottish football’s leading administrators has called for the game to accept that supporters matter more than television companies, and to rethink the balance between the demands of broadcasters and the interests of supporters.

Hibernian managing director Fife Hyland said the demands of broadcasters had been too easily allowed to outweigh the interests of supporters, particularly when it came to deciding kick-off times. “We know TV is important to Scottish football but it’s not the be all and end all,” he said.

For many of the Scottish football clubs , match-day receipts remain several times greater than income from broadcasting. For example, in their last published accounts, for the year to July 2010, Hearts revealed that their matchday revenues were more than two and a half times greater than their income from broadcasting. Their income from TV was £1.5million, while that from matches (gate receipts plus smaller associated items such as programme sales) was £3.9m. There is an even greater disparity across the city Hibs are understood to take in around four times more from match-days than they do from broadcasting.

The Old Firm, Rangers (presently insolvent) and Celtic dominate Scottish football. A new £80m TV contract with Sky and ESPN, is dependent on the provision of four Old Firm fixtures a season and shows the importance of Rangers and Celtic. The ten non-Old Firm clubs in the SPL want to change the league’s voting structure, which at present requires an 11-1 majority for substantial changes to be passed. Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston said that he would urge the ten to resign if Rangers and Celtic continued to block democratisation of the rules on voting. The Old Firm have historically shown their ability both to ignore the common good where there is a buck to be made, and so it was to prove again.

Man­­agers and directors of the ten have begun to make it clear that a future without the Old Firm was not only an option, but might even be preferable. Fans will see their departure as a chance for real competition to be returned to an SPL championship

Thursday, June 02, 2011

poverty porn

Last year Socialist Courier posted about The Scheme now the Onthank housing scheme in Kilmarnock, featured in the BBC Scotland's documentary series The Scheme has become a tourist destination.

At one point residents erected a sign charging "all scheme tourists £1 entry" - with a view to erecting a children's playground with the proceeds (only for East Ayrshire Council to haul it down within hours as illegal "fly-tipping" and as one resident said the fastest response to dumping "rubbish" ever recorded in the scheme.)

"The reason we put up the first sign is you will pay to go into a zoo or safari park, and they are coming here likes it's a safari park but with human beings on show. That's why we put up the sign, as a joke," said Karen McLean

Author and social commentator Peter York said it was understandable that the television programme would draw in spectators: "...the white working class has become the one group that can be baited and no-one complains as they would any other social class, and you have a situation where people want to see these people as they would animals in a zoo."

The Scotsman commentator Mark Smith writes "The characters in The Scheme are the alter ego of the filthy rich. They are the casualties of our capitalist society, the flawed consumers, those who, through little fault of their own, cannot step up to the plate at the altar of the free market. Yet still we deride them for reaching out to grasp some of the spoils from the rich man's table: the mobile phones, the 40in televisions, the designer gear." He goes on to say "To identify the human misery apparent in The Scheme as a symptom of the unequal nature of society is uncomfortable. It requires that we look at ourselves and at our positioning within that unequal society. It is far easier to cast judgments, to bemoan the depravity of the poor."

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Scheme - Poverty Porn ?

The Scheme , a 4--part series ( the final two episodes of the series have been postponed indefinitely because a 17-year-old male resident featured in the shows had been charged with assault) is a fly-on-the-wall documentary of life in half a dozen households in Onthank, a housing estate in Kilmarnock. Condemned by some as little more than "poverty porn", it has provoked debate.
In its depiction of six families in the Ayrshire community, a myriad range of social problems have been shown on screen, from poverty and unemployment through to addiction and anti-social behaviour. In the north-west pocket of Kilmarnock where Onthank lies, the statistics make for even more alarming reading. There, compared with other parts of East Ayrshire, four times as many children live in households where no adults work; almost three times as many adults are unable to work due to disability or illness; and nearly twice as many adults die as a result of heart disease.

Douglas Hamilton, head of Save The Children in Scotland explains "The face of child poverty in Scotland has been brutally exposed in The Scheme. For many viewers, I am sure that this programme has been an eye-opener to the experience of some of the poorest children growing up in Scotland..." he added "It is shameful that 95,000 children in Scotland live in families surviving on less than £33 per day."

However , many community leaders have called for The Scheme to be taken off air.
Social commentator and Herald columnist Pat Kane described it as 'poverty porn' and 'middle-class BBC television'. He told Newsnight Scotland: "I thought it was cartoonish. I thought it picked people who social work would clearly have to embrace over a long period of time and concentrated on them" .
Local MSP Willie Coffey condemned the series saying it lacked balance. He said: "The danger with programmes like this is that they give a misleading impression of an entire community..."

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that nearly two-thirds of the British public think poverty is either an inevitable part of life or related to an individual's own laziness but the organisation also predicts that, in any 10-year period, half the population will live in government-defined poverty for at least 12 months.

Similar deprivation and destitution can be experienced by other people on other housing estates in other cities and towns.
Many people will readily condemn those who live off Social Security and the benefits system when they could be working, but yet will vigorously defend the rights of those people who live in luxury yet never work because they own capital.
We need a revolution because the reformers, social workers, charitable individuals, priests and other well-meaning folk have all failed.
They are like medics on a battlefield, all they do is to keep wrapping on the bandages as the bloody slaughter continues around them.

The death of capitalism will be the beginning of a truly human society where we can relate to each other as members of a real community.