Economics

Press TV: Palestinian Authority Calls on Britain to Apologise for Balfour Declaration, Recognise Palestinian State

This is a very short video from the Iranian state news service, Press TV. It’s about a couple of minutes long. It was put up on the 2nd of November 2017, just a couple of weeks ago, and reports the call by the Palestinian authority for Britain to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, and recognise an independent Palestinian state.

It was the Balfour Declaration that pledged Britain to support the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine ‘without prejudice to the Arabs’. This part of the Declaration was soon broken, and while Britain tried to give at least the appearance that it was maintaining an even hand between the Jewish settlers and indigenous Arabs, in fact it favoured the European Jewish colonialists.

In fact the British government has refused to apologise for the Declaration, and said that it was ‘proud of it’. This little bit is accompanied by everyone’s favourite braggart, Old Etonian, and lethally incompetent ego maniac, Boris Johnson. He’s shown chuntering away, but it’s silent so normal folks don’t have to put up with his god-awful braying, blustering voice.

The clip also includes a brief interview with Richard Silverstein in Seattle, who notes how the Declaration led to the disinheritance of the Palestinians, and describes the recognition of an independent Palestine as ‘a no-brainer’. He believes that the importance of the Balfour Declaration was overstated, and says that there isn’t much of a case for paying reparations to the Palestinians, as Britain didn’t pay the Israelis for what they had suffered under the Mandate either. He also puts Palestine into the wider context of colonial politics and oppression, saying that Britain treated the Arabs in Palestine the same way it treated its other colonial possessions in India, across the Middle East and Africa.


Political and Corporate Corruption in Iran

I’ve previously refrained from putting material up from Press TV, because I heartily despise the Iranian government. It’s an extremely authoritarian state, which oppresses ordinary working people and its constituent ethnic minorities for the benefit of the mullah-merchant princes. These are members of the ulema, who also have extensive links to the merchants of Tehran bazaar and their own business interests. There’s a special term in Farsi, the ancient language of Persia, for the merchant-mullahs, and the ulema currently running the country definitely don’t like. I think they had the last journo or political dissident jailed for using it. There is also a massive underground Christian church in Iran, which, unlike its Chinese counterpart, is very much unknown in the West. It’s very heavily persecuted, contrary to various Hadith and passages in the Qu’ran, where Islam’s Prophet states that ‘there should be no compulsion in religion’. And I shall blog about that little injustice further, as it says as much about the cynical use of religion by the American military-industrial complex to advance their interests.

Iran Diverse and More Tolerant than Expected

I am also very much aware of the bloodcurdling nature of the Iranian rhetoric about Israel, and how former president Ahmedinejad’s speeches have been very plausibly interpreted as advocating the complete destruction of the state of Israel. However, Iran’s remaining Jewish community is quite well treated. I also understand that the country’s ancient Zoroastrian community, who were the country’s official religion under the Persian Empire, is also tolerated and respected. About three per cent of the Iranian population are Armenian Christians, who historically took refuge in Iran to escape persecution elsewhere in the Middle East.

It’s a very diverse country ethnically. Only 51 per cent of the country speaks the official language, Farsi. Other ethnic groups include Kurds, Baluchis, Arabs, Reshtchis and various tribes speaking languages related to Turkish. The Iranians I’ve met have been very relaxed and matter of fact about the different religious monuments and places of worship that are scattered across their ancient nation. I was asked a few years ago by a Shi’a Muslim Iranian friend if I’d ever seen the Christian churches, that had been built around the Black Sea. There is an Anglican church, whose membership is composed of indigenous Iranians in Tehran, and I personally know people, who have been sent Christmas by Muslim friends, which they purchased in this church.

In short, whatever I think of the mullocracy, the country itself has always struck me as modern, tolerant and cultured. The last should come as no surprise. This is the nation that produced the great poets Firdowsi, who composed the epic history of the Iranian nation, the Shah-Name, and Saadi. Looking through the library, I found an English translation of the latter illustrated by none other than Private Eye’s Willie Rushton. Iran’s government are not its people.

The Balfour Declaration against Wishes Diaspora Jews

But I’ve decided to reblog this piece, because what it has to say about the Balfour Declaration is important. With the Declaration, Britain gave away land, which was not ours to give, and which we had absolutely no right to give away. I’ve already blogged about the way the majority of Britain’s Jewish community at the time were dead against the Declaration. They had absolutely no wish to move once again to another foreign country. They wanted to be accepted for what they were – Brits, like everyone else. The only difference is that they were of a different religion, Judaism.

I’ve also read the same thing about Hungarian Jewry, in a book I borrowed on the history of Judaism a couple of decades ago from one of my aunts. The book’s author, if I recall correctly, was a Christian priest, who admired the Jews and hated anti-Semitism. It stated there that most Hungarian Jews in the late 19th and early 20th century considered themselves ‘Magyars of the Israelitish religion’. You can see that by the way Stephen Fry talks about his Jewish grandfather. He was a Hungarian Jew, but Fry always talks about him as a ‘Magyar’ – the ethnic Hungarians’ term for themselves. Georgy Ligeti, the avant-garde composer, whose weird pieces Lux Aeterna and Atmospheres formed part of the sound track to Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, is also of Hungarian Jewish heritage. He has said in an interview that his family’s surname was originally something very German or Yiddish, but that they changed it to a Hungarian equivalent out of patriotism and national pride. Which disproves so much of that awful, vile bilge Viktor Orban and his wretched Fidesz party are either claiming or insinuating about the country’s remaining Jewish population.

And I’ve blogged before about how Tony Greenstein, one of Zionism’s greatest critics, has pointed out that the Yiddish-speaking Jewish masses in pre-War Poland supported the Socialist Bund, and wanted to be accepted as equal citizens with the same rights as their gentile Polish compatriots. Britain’s Jews were not isolated in wishing to remain in their ancestral European countries. They were part of the mainstream. A mainstream that the Israel lobby in the Tories, the mainstream media, and spurious anti-racism groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the squalid, malicious libellers of the Jewish Labour Movement in the Labour Party, are desperately trying to conceal and obscure. Heaven forfend if you try to mention this, or that the Zionists occasionally collaborated with Nazis and their fellow-travellers to persecute diaspora Jewry. They get terribly upset and start ranting that you’re an anti-Semite.

Suppression of Alternative Media by Western Neoliberal Elite

I also reblogged this because it was from Press TV. I despise the Iranian government, but I also heartily despise the way the American political-military-industrial caste is now trying to suppress alternative news sources. This means going after RT, because, er, they actually do their job as journos and cover issues like racism, growing poverty, the crimes of empire and the exploitative nature of capitalism. And so they’ve created another Red Scare, in which RT is the secret hand of Vladimir Putin corrupting American politics. And the Tories over here are doing exactly the same.

The Censorship of Alex Salmond by the Beeb

Alex Salmond now has his own show on RT in Britain. I can’t think of a single reason why he shouldn’t, and at least one good reason why he should: the Beeb heavily censored and deliberately misquoted and then edited out his own words at the Scots independence referendum t’other year. Nick ‘Macclesfield Goebbels’ Robinson asked Salmond if he was worried that the big financial houses would leave Edinburgh for London if Scotland got its independence. Salmond gave him a full answer, stating that he was not worried, and was confident that this would not happen. He quoted various sources from within the financial sector.

Oops! Salmond wasn’t supposed to do that. So over the course of the day, the footage was carefully edited down so that it first appeared that Salmond gave only a cursory reply without much substance. Then it was edited out completely, and ‘Goebbels’ Robinson blithely told the camera that Salmond had not answered his question.

Which was a sheer, blatant, unashamed lie.

Apart from this, Salmond as the former leader of the Scots Nats is in a particularly good position to take up a job for RT. Scotland has always had particularly strong links with Russia. I can remember attending an academic seminar on this when I was hoping to do a degree in Russian at one of the unis in Birmingham. That went by ’cause I didn’t get the grades. I can also remember being told by an aunt, whose husband was Scottish, and who had very pro-Soviet opinions, that the Russians were particularly keen on the works of Rabbie Burns. It was part of the curriculum when they learned English.

This has not stopped Theresa May urging Salmond not to take up the job. Which just follows all the Tories, like Boris Johnson’s equally demented father, who criticised the Labour party because some of their MPs and activists appeared on RT. While conveniently ignoring the various Tories, who had.

So more hypocrisy and scaremongering. No change, there then!

Galloway and Press TV

George Galloway also has, or had, his own show in Press TV, and is an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights. I’ve been wary about him ever since he launched the Respect party, and the way the media monstered him when he saluted Saddam Hussein for his indefatigueability. But I’ve developed a considerable respect for him since then, because so much of what I’ve heard him say about the neoliberal elites and their warmongering attempts to start a conflict with Russia is absolutely correct.

The Anti-Muslim Right and al-Jazeera

The Republicans in America and the anti-Islamic right also hated Al-Jazeera. The Qatar-based broadcaster is supposed to be another source of evil propaganda and disinformation, this time covering for ‘radical Islam’. I think this might be because Al-Jazeera, like RT and Press TV, are showing us in the West what we are doing in the Middle East. Like the hundreds of thousands our bombs are killing, and the millions, who are being thrown out of their homes and forced into refugee camps and exile. The masses, who don’t have food, water, electricity and medical care, because the secular welfare states that have provided this have been destroyed in pursuit of big profits by the multinationals. Just like their people are being persecuted and butchered by sectarian killers, and their women and children enslaved by those savages in ISIS as Daesh tries to roll back the gains they have made. And yes, there has been a Muslim Feminist movement. Just like there has been one in Christianity and Judaism. But you count on Tommy Robinson and the English Defence League not to tell you that. Just as you can count on ISIS, with the backing of the Saudis, in trying to destroy it. Or at least leave it severely restricted.

The War on Domestic Alternative News

And once the elite have finished with the alternative news networks, they’ll try and finish off domestic American and British alternative news sources. Like The Young Turks, the Jimmy Dore Show, the David Pakman Show, Sam Seder’s Minority Report and Democracy Now! in the US. As well as the alternative, left-wing bloggers and vloggers, Google and Facebook are trying to marginalise as ‘fake news’. They’ve even developed algorithms to take traffic away from these sites. I’ve a very strong suspicious Mike’s been hit with it over here, as have several other bloggers. If I remember correctly, they’ve even tried to censor Tom Pride of Pride’s Purge, claiming he wasn’t suitable for children as his material was ‘adult’. It was, but only in the sense that you had to be a mature adult, who actually thought about the issues, to read it.

And once the people at the margins are suppressed, the elite are going to go for the mainstream.

And all we can expect from the mainstream broadcasters is more propaganda denying the reality of poverty, of climate change, of the misery created by the destruction of the welfare, the privatisation of the NHS over here and the refusal to implement single-payer in America, and the sheer, catastrophic lies about how climate change isn’t really occurring.

And as the media gets censored, the brutality of the police and the military will get worse. Black Lives Matter has raised the issue of the cavalier way some cops kill Blacks for the slightest of reasons. But recent arrests and brutalisation of White protesters have also demonstrated that this casual thuggery is also moving towards the White population as well. Counterpunch a few weeks ago put up a piece about a secret US forces report, which predicted that in the next couple of decades, US policing would become more militarised. The army would be used to quell the riots and disturbance that would break out thanks to poverty and increased racial friction.

Orwell’s going to be proved right. In 1984 he asks what the future will be like. The chilling, famous reply is: a jackboot stamping on a human face. Forever.

Without any alternative media to protest, because they’re all in jail or hiding on trumped up charges of treason.

Instead, we’re going to be treated to the lies of shills and hacks like ‘Goebbels’ Robinson and ‘Arnalda Mussolini’ Kuenssberg. And fed racist, Tory drivel by the Murdoch media, the Weirdo Barclay Twins and Paul Dacre.

Why Krugman and Stiglitz are no real alternatives to mainstream economics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/11/2017 - 6:38am in

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Economics

Little in the discipline has changed in the wake of the crisis. Mirowski thinks that this is at least in part a result of the impotence of the loyal opposition — those economists such as Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman who attempt to oppose the more viciously neoliberal articulations of economic theory from within the […]

Productivity Growth and Real Interest Rates in the Long Run

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/11/2017 - 5:21am in

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Economics

Kurt G. Lunsford of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland:

Productivity Growth and Real Interest Rates in the Long Run: Despite the unemployment rate's return to low levels, inflation-adjusted or "real" interest rates have remained negative. One popular explanation for persistently negative real interest rates is that long-run productivity growth has slowed. I study the long-run relationship between real interest rates and productivity growth from 1914 to 2016 and find a negative correlation between these two variables. Hence, low productivity growth has been historically associated with high real interest rates. Since World War II, the correlation between these variables has been near zero. This suggests that slow long-run productivity growth is not driving real interest rates to be persistently negative. ...

US Wages: The Short-Term Mystery Resolved

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/11/2017 - 5:20am in

Tim Taylor:

US Wages: The Short-Term Mystery Resolved: The Great Recession ended more than eight years ago, in June 2009. The US unemployment rate declined slowly after that, but it has now been below 5.0% every month for more than two years, since September 2015. Thus, an ongoing mystery for the US economy is: Why haven't wages started to rise more quickly as the labor market conditions improved? Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn, Patrick Liu, and Greg Nantz provide some factual background to address this question in "Thirteen Facts about Wage Growth," written for the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution (September 2017). The second part of the report addresses the question: "How Strong Has Wage Growth Been since the Great Recession?"

For me, one surprising insight from the report is that real wage growth--that is, wage growth adjusted for inflation--has actually not been particularly slow during the most recent upswing. The upper panel of this figure shows real wage growth since the early 1980s. The horizontal lines show the growth of wages after each recession. The real wage growth in the last few years is actually higher. The bottom panel shows nominal wage growth, with inflation included. By that measure, wage growth in recent years is lower than after the last few recessions. Thus, I suspect that one reason behind the perception of slow wage growth is that many people are focused on nominal rather than on real wages.

Government statistics offer a lot of ways of measuring wage growth. The graphs above are wage growth for "real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers," which is about 100 million of the 150 million workers.

An alternative and broader approach looks what is called the Employment Cost Index, which is based on a National Compensation Survey of employers. To adjust for inflation, I use the measure of inflation called the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, which is the inflation just for the personal consumption part of the economy that is presumably most relevant to workers. I also use the version of this index that strips out jumps in energy and food prices. This is the measure of the inflation rate that the Federal Reserve actually focuses on.

Economists using these measures were pointing out a couple of years ago that real wages seemed to be on the rise. The blue line shows the annual change in wages and salaries for all civilian workers, using the ECI, while the redline shows the PCE measure of inflation. The gap between the two is the real gain in wages, which you can see started to emerge in 2015.

Not only has the recovery in US real wages been a bit higher than usual for the last few decades, and especially prominent in the last couple of years, but there is good reason to believe that the wage statistics since the Great Recession may be picking up a change in the composition of the workforce that tends to make wage growth look slower. Shambaugh, Nunn, Liu, and Nantz explain (citations and footnotes omitted):

"In normal times, entrants to full-time employment have lower wages than those exiting, which tends to depress measured wage growth. During the Great Recession this effect diminished substantially when an unusual number of low-wage workers exited full-time employment and few were entering. After the Great Recession ended, the recovering economy began to pull workers back into full-time employment from part-time employment ... and nonemployment, while higher-paid, older workers left the labor force. Wage growth in the middle and later parts of the recovery fell short of the growth experienced by continuously employed workers, reflecting both the retirements of relatively high-wage workers and the reentry of workers with relatively low wages. In 2017 the effect of this shifting composition of employment remains large, at more than 1.5 percentage points. If and when growth in full-time employment slows, we can expect this effect to diminish somewhat, providing a boost to measured wage growth."

The baby boomer generation is hitting retirement and leaving the labor force, as relatively highly-paid workers at the end of their careers. New workers entering the labor force, together with low-skilled workers being drawn back into the labor force, tend to have lower wages and salaries. This makes wage growth look low--but what's happening is in part a shift in types of workers.

One other fact from Shambaugh, Nunn, Liu, and Nantz is that wage growth has been strong at the bottom and the top of the wage distribution, but slower in the middle. This figure splits the wage distribution into five quintiles, and shows the wage growth for production and nonsupervisory workers in each.

Taking these factors together, the "mystery" of why wages haven't recovered more strongly since the end of the Great Recession appears to be resolved. However, a bigger mystery remains. Why have wages and salaries for production and nonsupervisory workers done so poorly not in the last few years, but over the last few decades?

There's a long list of potential reasons: slow productivity growth, rising inequality, dislocations from globalization and new technology, a slowdown in the rate of start-up firms, weakness of unions and collective bargaining, less geographic mobility by workers, and others. These factors have been discussed here before, and will be again, but not today. Shambaugh, Nunn, Liu, and Nantz provide some background figures and discussion of these longer-term factors, too.

Economics Gets Out More Often: Using Extramural Citations to Assess Economic Scholarship

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/11/2017 - 5:03am in

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Economics

From VoxEU:

Economics gets out more often: Using extramural citations to assess economic scholarship, by Josh Angrist, Pierre Azoulay, Glenn Ellison, Ryan Hill, and Susan Lu: The 2017 Nobel in Memorial Prize Economic Sciences, awarded to University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler, has given behavioural economics well-deserved recognition. Thaler and colleagues are fascinated by differences between economists’ benchmark model of rational decision-making and the seemingly irrational decisions that psychologists hope to explain. Behavioural economists work in the space between these two social sciences. This intersection is a recent development: as Camerer (1999) observed, “[E]conomists routinely – and proudly – use models that are grossly inconsistent with findings from psychology.”

Some hold the opinion that the distance between economics and other social sciences reflects the insularity and hubris of economists. Fourcade et al. (2015) argued that academic economics is characterised by a self-serving sense of superiority that reflects the guild-like structure of our discipline (two of the three authors are sociologists). Thaler’s prize reminds us that economics is the only social science for which there is a Nobel. Many economists claim the ear of kings and princes, and most have plenty of outside opportunities to make a buck. Following the Great Recession, this has prompted external critics of the discipline (and some from within, like Zingales 2013) to ask whether our mission of pure scholarship has been corrupted or devalued.

A lonely island?

Our recent paper looking at 'extramural citations' attempts to gauge the scientific standing of academic economics research (Angrist et al. 2017a). We find that the polemical claims that economics is an insular social science are out of date. Economics pays less attention to other social sciences than do political science and sociology – but Figure 1 shows that, since around 1990, this insularity has declined. Economists are now more likely than psychologists to cite other social science disciplines (left-hand panel).

Measured by citations to non-social-science disciplines, economics looks even less insular. ...

Paul Krugman: Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/11/2017 - 4:56am in

"The only significant winners would be those making more than $1 million a year.":

Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: Looking at the reactions to Republican tax plans, I found myself remembering what people used to say about former Senator Phil Gramm...: “Even his friends don’t like him.”...

The general public strongly disapproves — by a 2-1 majority, according to Quinnipiac, although the majority would be even bigger if people really understood what’s going on. But surely at least C.E.O.s like the plan, right?

Actually, not so much. A few days ago Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives. They were asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures; only a handful did. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” asked Cohn, plaintively.

The answer is that C.E.O.s ... know that tax rates aren’t that important a factor in investment decisions. ...Most serious economic analyses agree..: Corporate tax cuts wouldn’t actually do much to raise investment. They would, however, explode the budget deficit.

So in an attempt to limit that deficit blowout, Senate Republicans are proposing significant tax increases on working families..., taxes would rise on average for every group with incomes under $75,000 a year... The only significant winners would be those making more than $1 million a year. Populism!

Oh, and this doesn’t even take account of the health care sabotage... By repealing the mandate ... the plan would ... cause 13 million to lose coverage; that loss of coverage, and the associated government subsidies, is why mandate repeal saves money that can be given to corporations. But the move would also drive up premiums... So that’s an additional, hidden indirect tax on the middle class.

Nor does it take account of what would inevitably come next: tax-cut-induced deficits would, by law, trigger cuts in Medicare, and this would just be the start of a G.O.P. assault on programs like disability insurance...

All of which raises the question, why are Republicans even trying to do this? It’s bad policy and bad politics, and the politics will get worse as voters learn more about the facts. Well, last week one G.O.P. congressman, Chris Collins of New York, gave the game away: “My donors are basically saying get it done or don’t ever call me again.”

So we’re talking about government of the people, not by the people, but by wealthy donors, for wealthy donors. Everyone else hates this plan — and they should.

California working

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 12:08pm in

A video from the Labor Center at UC-Berkeley reports on the employment and growth results of progressive state policies in California:

Source: http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/california-is-working/

Fox/Sky: more twists and turns

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 9:55am in

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UK, UK, UK, culture, Economics

The 21st
Century Fox bid to buy the 61% of Sky it doesn’t own has provoked a formidable
level of opposition. Will that count when push comes to shove?

lead Culture Secretary Karen Bradley in the House of Commons, explains she intends to refer 21st Century Fox's £11.7 billion bid for Sky to the competition regulator for further investigation, September 2017.Press Association image. All rights reserved.Who would
want to be a media regulator? The whole idea of cross-media regulation is
bedevilled by confusion. The 2002 Enterprise Act had built into it two separate
definitions of “sufficient plurality” (the condition that needed to be
protected to avoid a media merger being blocked): plurality of viewpoints in relation to newspapers,
and plurality of ownership in
relation to “media enterprises” (the legal definition of broadcasters).

Why was
this? There was a simple explanation: newspapers regularly present viewpoints,
but broadcasters are regulated in the UK, with providers of news and current
affairs content required to observe “due impartiality” and “due accuracy”,
under the terms of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code. They are not allowed to express
their own views, except in very narrow circumstances (so the BBC is allowed to
defend its funding mechanism on its own channels). It follows that, legally,
there could not be a plurality of viewpoints
in broadcasting. What is required is a sufficiency of the number of owners: a definition seen as a surrogate
for plurality where viewpoints as such are banned.

This muddle
has been further confused by Ofcom, which has introduced into consideration a
version of “viewpoints in broadcasting”: it argues that the absence of any
definition of an appropriate news agenda means that a would-be purchaser of a
media enterprise could be blocked for fear of their manipulating the agenda of
a news service.

As I will
show later, this concept is a mirage, but that has not stopped Ofcom smuggling
the phrase “sufficient plurality of viewpoints in media enterprises” into the
assessment process for the Fox/Sky bid, with the CMA now following suit.

This week,
the CMA has published a transcript of its first “expert round table” on the bid:
that on media plurality (another on broadcasting standards will follow
shortly). I was part of the first group of “experts”, and found the 3-hour
session extremely interesting.

The review
by the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK’s senior competition
regulator) is what is known as stage 2 of the inquiry into this proposed merger,
triggered by Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, in
September, after several months of scrutiny by the media regulator, Ofcom,
whose inquiry was requested by Bradley, using her powers under the 2002 Act –
media plurality being the only part of competition oversight of UK transactions
of this size not reserved for the EU authorities.

Ofcom had
recommended a reference to the CMA on the grounds of the bid possibly being
against the public interest in terms of media plurality, but had cleared the bid
on another possible test: the extent of Fox’s commitment to high broadcasting
standards.

Nonetheless,
Ms Bradley decided to refer the bid on those grounds, too – an unusual exercise
of her discretion, given that the CMA’s threshold for blocking the transaction
at this second stage is that it would be
likely
to harm the public interest (the Ofcom threshold at the first stage was
simply that it might have that
effect). If the bid had not crossed a low threshold test, why would it be
deemed to cross a higher one?

Opponents of
the bid simply complained that Ofcom had not done its job properly, effectively
inviting the CMA to declare the UK media regulator incompetent.

Perhaps Ms
Bradley has calculated that these opponents will only give up on the
broadcasting standards front if a six-month investigation by the CMA (rather
than the shorter Ofcom process) settles beyond further argument the issue of
whether Fox can be trusted as the owner of Sky News.

The CMA operates
with a high degree of transparency: submissions to it are published on its
website, along with the round table transcripts. For serious students of these
matters, perhaps the first port of call is the issues statement the CMA
published in October. And perhaps the two most notable passages in this document
are the “theories of harm” postulated: a reduction in the number of
“viewpoints” within media enterprises, and/or an abuse of ownership of Sky News
so as to influence unduly (however that is measured) public opinion.
Essentially, the CMA is relying upon two misconceptions fostered by Ofcom. Essentially, the CMA is relying upon two misconceptions
fostered by Ofcom.

The first,
in relation to “viewpoints”, assumes that Sky News might, after the transaction,
adopt the viewpoints of one or more of the newspapers in which the Murdoch Family
Trust (hereafter MFT) has a 39% interest (through NewsCorp). As any first year
media student could tell the CMA, this is a particularly silly hypothesis.

The NewsCorp
newspapers have different editorial attitudes to different subjects. The Sunday
Times is pro-Brexit; The Times is anti-Brexit. Even if Sky News adopted one or
the other “viewpoint” (which, of course, it is not allowed to do, as it would
lead to suspension of its broadcast licence), in what measurable way would that
constitute a reduction of the number
of viewpoints available to the UK audience?

The whole
speculation is typical of the media illiteracy displayed by Ofcom. The Times
and Sunday Times carry editorial columns from a very wide range of contributors
– from the left and the right, from Leavers and Remainers, from climate change
campaigners and climate change sceptics, from former advisors to Tony Blair,
John Major, David Cameron and from other assorted political figures – in short,
from multiple “viewpoints”. If Sky News were to invite any of these regular
columnists to become a regular broadcaster (assuming they had any broadcasting
skills), there would, even theoretically, only be a reduction in the number of
viewpoints available to the UK audience if Sky News currently had a viewpoint (which it is not allowed to have!) and
abandoned it. This is beyond parody.

As it
happens, a regular presenter on Sky News is Ian King, a former economics editor
of The Times, and a regular columnist for The Sunday Times is Adam Boulton,
former political editor of Sky News and still a regular presenter there. Can
Ofcom tell us if this has led to a measurable reduction in viewpoints available
to the UK public? This is all nonsense, and the theory of harm based on a
reduction of the number of viewpoints has no conceivable value.

The
alternative theory of harm – stemming from a possible lack of commitment by Fox
to UK broadcasting standards – relates to what critics call the Foxification of
Sky News: a deliberate transformation of the current service into a version of
Fox News.

Put aside
the fact that the MFT has had multiple opportunities to convert Sky News to an
imitation of Fox News, but has never done so; that it has actually broadcast
Fox News in the UK for more than a dozen years (to tiny audiences, and to zero
economic effect) before abandoning it this autumn; and that Sky News is much
admired in the UK, whereas Fox News is much reviled: what is the evidence that
Rupert Murdoch or the MFT nurse an ambition that is at such odds with their
business interests?

10 years
ago, during a visit by a House of Lords media committee delegation, including
Steve Barnett, Professor at Westminster University, Murdoch made a throwaway
remark that he would have liked to make Sky News more like Fox News, but that
“his people in the UK” would not listen to him. In all solemnity, this remark
was trotted out at the expert round table I attended (you can find it in the
transcript) by two people who should know better, the estimable Stewart Purvis
and Suzanne Franks.

Anyone who
was worked at any senior level at Sky (I did four years as Head of Programming)
will tell you that no-one survives who opposes something that Rupert Murdoch
really wants to do: several chief executives who have fallen by the wayside
will testify to that. If, ten years after apparently stating his preferences,
he still hasn’t changed Sky News, it is surely more likely that he knows it
would be a mistake than that he has been thwarted for a decade.

Stewart went
on to offer the CMA team his own “theory of Murdoch”: the establishment of a
right-of-centre broadsheet newspaper, alongside a raucous popular tabloid and
an opinionated news channel – a pattern he identified in the US and in
Australia, and now potentially in the UK. Alice Enders (of Enders Analysis)
gently deflated this conceit, pointing out that Sky in the UK is a
family-friendly platform business, very different from Fox News in the US,
which is primarily dependent on advertising revenue (you can read what she said
in the transcript).

She omitted
to point out that Murdoch’s “popular tabloid” in the US is read by 0.2% of US
adults – it is not even the most popular tabloid in New York (its sole
circulation centre), and has zero political influence. It is impossible to take
such a flimsy “theory” seriously, but opponents of the bid have no reason to
hold back any objection.

Inevitably,
the supposed intention to Foxify Sky News turns up in the extensive Avaaz
dossier that can be found on the CMA website, along with virtually every other
fact or rumour that might serve to discredit Fox and the Murdochs (however
irrelevant to the issues involved in the transaction). Even a daft edition of
Panorama, which surmised that a company indirectly connected with Murdoch – NDS
– did something to undermine ITV Digital many years ago is solemnly cited (ITV
Digital was effectively bankrupt at the time, and even if NDS had done what was
alleged, it would have made virtually no difference to ITV Digital’s fate,
which had been sealed before it launched when UK regulators barred Sky from
joining the venture).

Avaaz seems
convinced that a bunch of payments by Fox News executives and presenters to
settle lawsuits alleging sexual misbehaviour should be grounds for Fox itself
to be declared not “fit and proper” to operate Ofcom broadcast licences in the
UK.

Yet on those
grounds, the BBC would have lost all its broadcasting licences long ago: its
own internal inquiry established that up to 100 women and children had been
abused, assaulted or raped over a period of four decades on BBC premises by
presenters hired by the BBC to make BBC programmes. Anything that happened at
Fox News (whether or not tolerated by management) pales into insignificance by
comparison.

Oddly, one
of the Fox corporate scandals barely mentioned in evidence by Avaaz was the
massive overpayment by Rupert Murdoch for his daughter’s production company,
which led to a lawsuit from Fox shareholders, an abject apology from the
non-Murdoch directors of Fox for failing to resist the deal, a promise to
reform corporate governance procedures, and the payment of hundreds of millions
of dollars to shareholders in compensation.

Perhaps this
was skirted round because the impressively substantial Avaaz dossier depends
upon a fragile theory: that the MFT, through its 39% shareholding, has complete
control of Fox (and is therefore responsible for all its documented wrongdoings),
but that Fox, despite its 39% shareholding, does not have complete control of
Sky (because, if it did, the merger would make no difference and there is no
basis for opposing it).

Even the
Secretary of State, in her response to the Ofcom findings, managed to fumble
this point, arguing that the MFT only had 15% control of Sky (39% of Fox’s
39%). This made no sense. If 39% gave the MFT effective control of Fox, that
control would not be diluted when the Fox shareholding in Sky was exercised. So
Avaaz have to theorise that 39% control of Sky is somehow very different from
39% control of Fox: not easy.

Campaigners from Avaaz dressed as Prime Minister Theresa May and Rupert Murdoch take part in a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament, London, June, 2017. Dominic Lipinski/Press Association. All rights reserved Of course,
the CMA could settle these issues very easily. It is a criminal offence to give
false evidence to a CMA investigation. All the CMA has to do is to ask Sky
management to identify a) the number of times in the last ten years that Fox or
the MFT has tried to influence the editorial policy of Sky News; and b) the
three most important issues on which the Fox directors on the Sky board have
argued for a strategy that the board as a whole opposed and declined to
implement. At last we would have a definitive answer to these fascinating
questions!  

Another Ofcom misconception

It is time
to examine the second of Ofcom’s misconceptions: that potential manipulation of
the news agenda might subvert the provisions of the Broadcasting Code. How
Ofcom arrived at this notion stems from two separate developments.

The first
has been the advent of news services originating in foreign countries (and
sometimes controlled by foreign governments) which have secured Ofcom licences
to broadcast in the UK. As quickly became apparent, it proved impossible to
hold these non-UK originated services to the same standards as those applied to
domestic news providers.

Ofcom
finessed the issue by defining the “due” in “due impartiality” as – effectively
– “judged against the context of the way in which news is reported in the
originating country”. So the likes of Al Jazeera, RT and Fox News were given
much greater latitude than might be accorded to Sky News – a not wholly
unreasonable approach, if we think how Sky News itself might be judged by, say,
Russian regulators.

Of course,
these overseas services still from time to time fell foul of the Ofcom
broadcasting code, either by displaying blatant bias, or through inaccuracy, or
– as happened more than once with Fox News before the service closed in
September – through a failure to edit out for UK transmission segments of
advocacy or opinion which had been included in the original domestic feed
without breaking any domestic broadcast rules.

Opponents of
the transaction argue that the MFT might push Sky News in the direction of the
services originated overseas, exploiting the latitude that Ofcom appears to
allow these non-domestic channels. What this fear ignores is that Ofcom has
been consistent in its treatment of each group of channels, domestic and
non-domestic, and there is no sign of that changing. Moreover, if Ofcom were to
allow Sky News to change direction, the problem would surely lie with the
legislation and the regulator: why should the CMA be expected to solve that
problem, especially pre-emptively?

Ofcom has
tried to by-pass its uncertainty as to how to enforce its broadcasting code by
raising a second issue, that of news agendas, and turning them into a proxy for
“viewpoints”. All news organisations have news agendas. Input news editors have
resources to deploy, and must make decisions about where to allocate them. Some
resources are pre-allocated. All domestic UK TV news channels have one or more bureaux
in the United States, so stories emanating from there will always take precedence
over stories from Asia, South and Central America, Canada, much of Europe and
most of Africa.

Output news
editors will also have choices to make. The main correspondents at their
disposal will have their own preferences as to what they want to cover, and
then there will be “breaking” stories that require decisions: do we rely on coverage
by agencies (PA, AP, AFP, Reuters, etc) or do we supplement or even replace
that coverage?

What is
clearly false is any idea of a “tabula rasa”, or a “natural” or “automatic”
news agenda. News bulletins in different countries will have very different
running orders, and may overlap only at the margins, if at all. News bulletins
from public service broadcasters in the same country will also have significant
differences, thus begging the question as to how anyone would know when a news
agenda was being “manipulated” as opposed to being set and managed by the
broadcaster’s news staff.

In an exercise
that the CMA could easily replicate from a dozen university media departments during
its current investigation, I decided to monitor the main news bulletins of the
BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for the fifteen weekday evenings after the first round
table on October 23. The detail can be found in this
link.

Averaged
across the three weeks, 70% of all news items (42% of news bulletin transmission
time) consisted of stories only one of the three news broadcasters deemed
worthy of including in the top stories of the day. On only 5 of the 15 days did
the three bulletins lead with the same story; on 4 days they each led with a
completely different story.

Experience
tells us that newspapers frequently differ as to which story to lead with on
any day, sometimes because they do not agree on which story is most important,
and sometimes because they wish to give prominence to a story on which they
have an angle of special  interest to
their readers. So not only should it not surprise us that TV news broadcasters
also differ as to their news agendas: it is arguably valuable for the
democratic process to have such disagreement.

That the
three clients of ITN (ITV, Channel 4 and Five) look for distinctiveness in
their news output, and that a single news supplier feels able to oblige, is
probably a strength of the system. Indeed, perversely, it might be argued that
a domestic news service whose news agenda was a mirror-image of that of Channel
4 News (clearly left of centre) might increase
the number of viewpoints available to UK audiences.

The fact
remains that, provided an Ofcom-licensed news service observes the rules
regarding due impartiality and accuracy in
individual news stories
, it would be extraordinarily hard to identify a news agenda which was actually
transgressive (indeed, if it were demonstrably transgressive, it would presumably
be open to sanction). It follows that any assessment of the Fox bid that relies
upon a theory of harm positing abuse of the news agenda is fatally flawed. Any assessment of the Fox bid that relies upon a theory
of harm positing abuse of the news agenda is fatally flawed.

It is, of
course, imaginable that the opposite might be argued: given the difficulty of proving any harm resulting from
manipulation of the news agenda,  perhaps
any transaction that runs such a
danger should be banned, even if the feared outcome happens neither to be
illegal nor contrary to the broadcast code. How such a policy could be pursued
without our competition regime falling into disrepute is hard to see.

So the CMA’s
second “theory of harm” is essentially speculative: that the MFT harbours a
desire to manipulate the news agenda; that any evidence to the contrary
(however substantial) must be ignored; that the MFT currently lacks the ability
to carry out its assumed ambitions; that the transaction will confer such
ability on the MFT; and that Ofcom, the 2003 Act and the Broadcasting Code are
powerless to prevent the feared manipulation – in other words, that such
behaviour would be legal and code-compliant.

Impossible irony

Given the
difficulty of demonstrating that a news service had manipulated the news agenda
(assuming it had indeed consciously done so), the further difficulty of
demonstrating that such manipulation differed in kind and seriousness from the continual
variations in news agendas, and the problem of deciding whether to penalise
such a manipulation (assuming it could be demonstrated), the CMA must surely
abandon this “theory of harm”; otherwise, the same theoretical objection could
be raised to prevent any change of
ownership of any media asset that includes a news service.

If such a
wholly insupportable approach to merger policy were to be adopted by the CMA,
the inevitable result would surely be that any possible transaction would be preceded by a closure of the news asset,
if that were in the power of one of the merger parties. That such a merger policy
might be adopted in the name of sustaining media plurality is surely an
impossible irony to embrace.

Yet that is
precisely the situation that now prevails. In a brief response to the CMA’s
statement of issues, the directors representing the 61% non-Fox Sky
shareholders have made crystal clear that the CMA cannot assume the continued
existence of Sky News absent the proposed transaction. If the continuation of
Sky News were to inhibit the current, or other, valuable transaction that the
61% wished to pursue, the 61% would ensure removal of the inhibition.

Some
observers have mistaken this threat as emanating from the Murdochs: they, of
course, have nothing to do with it (unless you take the view that they already
control the 61%, in which case there can be no point in resisting the merger).
As it happens, the representatives of the 61% made the identical threat in
2010, but did not pursue it, because the 2010 NewsCorp bid was withdrawn, not
rejected.

A second
mistake would be to treat this threat as empty, on the assumption that the news
service delivers so much brand value to Sky (even if at significant cost). The
fact is that Sky News has always been an indulgence driven by Rupert Murdoch’s
attachment to the service: an attachment not felt by the 61%.

In the
expert round table – as readers of the transcript can verify – I warned the CMA
that the Murdochs might eventually lose patience with their UK critics, and UK
regulatory procedures, and close Sky News, given how little credit they are
given for launching the service, financing it (especially after the creation of
a 24-hour BBC news service rendered it permanently unprofitable) and
maintaining its high standards. After all, if this gift horse is constantly
having its mouth examined, perhaps it would be better to remove the cause of
resentment (I should have included in my comments to the CMA that in 2010 it
was the 61% who threatened closure of Sky News, not the Murdochs).

Behavioural remedy

What does
all this mean? The CMA is effectively being told that, if it blocks the merger
because it might damage media plurality (on the narrow grounds of it causing a
technical reduction of plurality, and thereby leaving “insufficient” plurality
in the provision of news) or damage the quality of Sky News (the primary fear
of those claiming Fox is not fully committed to UK broadcasting standards),
then Sky News will be sold or closed, and the merger re-instated, with no
further bar to its implementation left standing.  

In terms of
the current process, the CMA could attempt to impose what is called a
behavioural remedy on the MFT, in the form of written promises guaranteeing the
editorial independence of Sky News. These were already volunteered to Ofcom by
the merger parties in stage 1 of the investigation, but were rejected as
inadequate by Karen Bradley at the end of that stage.

The parties
are under no obligation to repeat those promises at stage 2, let alone accept more
onerous obligations, should the CMA request them. The advantage for them of the
note from the Sky 61% is that the prospect of imminent closure of Sky News –
clearly not a desirable outcome for the CMA – makes it easier for the parties
to decline, if now sought, any behavioural
remedy, thereby leaving the CMA with two choices: clearing the bid, and saving
Sky News (leaving to the continuing oversight of Ofcom the task of dealing with
any subsequent changes, if any, to the output of Sky News); or making
divestment of Sky News (the only structural remedy seemingly available to the
CMA) a condition of the merger.

As the prospect
of a sale of Sky News is remote (it loses tens of millions of pounds a year,
and would anyway only be sold without the brand name), that essentially invites
the Sky 61% to close Sky News and await a new offer from Fox.

Twists in the tale

What are the
likelihoods here? It seems almost certain that the merger will go ahead, one
way or another, during the course of 2018. Whether Sky News survives the
process is effectively up to the CMA. As in 2010/11, the die-hard opponents of
the merger will have to be satisfied with their pound of flesh, in that a
closure will at least deprive the MFT of the chance to ruin Sky News (though
there is nothing to stop Fox, after the merger, from applying to Ofcom for a
licence for a news service, perhaps even using the Sky brand).

Curiously,
professional investors seem to doubt this outcome, perhaps because they have
seen so many obstacles thrown in the way of the deal that they expect some
as-yet-unforeseen event to derail it. Otherwise, the prospect of a guaranteed
20%+ capital gain in barely 8 months would make Sky shares at their present
price seem an irresistible bargain.    

Another
twist in the tale is the report that Disney approached Fox recently with a view
to buying much of their content business – the movie studio, TV production, the
entertainment channels and – yes – the 39% of Sky, leaving behind the sports
and news channels.

In theory,
such a transaction would provide the Murdochs with enough cash to re-unite
those remaining channels with the print businesses in NewsCorp (owners of the
UK newspapers), and perhaps even take the whole entity private again (the MFT
owns 39% of the publicly listed NewsCorp).

Reportedly,
Disney bid a lot less than might have interested Fox, and the issue has been
parked, but those who theorised that this somehow changed the dynamic of the
Sky bid are probably wrong: if Disney bought the Sky stake, they would
certainly want to complete the deal, and would be entirely relaxed about
closing Sky News if that became a requirement.

The CMA will
publish its preliminary findings in mid-December, no doubt triggering another
wave of submissions and arguments, with their timetable calling for a
recommendation one way or another by mid-March. If it clears the deal, the
chances of Avaaz and other opponents mounting a judicial challenge will be low,
and completion of the transaction by June remains possible. If the CMA rejects
the deal, the merger parties will not bother with any appeal, but will simply
close Sky News and re-start the process, this time with no option for political
intervention.

That might
add another three months to the timetable: what cannot be predicted is whether
Sky News will survive beyond that time. Even the CMA panel – wholly
independent, and with no political dimension – may find it hard to ignore the
sheer volume and passion of the opposition arguments, and give the bid a green
light, unencumbered by conditions. If it does, the ball would be back in Ms
Bradley’s court: it is hard to see her rejecting the CMA’s verdict, and
becoming personally responsible for closing Sky News. But she has surprised us
before.

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"Diversity, Ofcom and the BBC: the £1 billion gap"

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 7:01am in

Tags 

UK, UK, culture, Economics

Next year, will the BBC Chair Sir David Clementi get a grip on
diversity and close the BBC's £1 billion diversity gap?

lead Screenshot: Sir David Clementi giving the keynote speech at the BBC/RTS Cambridge Convention, 2017. Youtube.In his “ I Have A Dream”
speech at the March on Washington”1963, Martin Luther King declared that the
American constitution was a promissory note that had been returned marked
“insufficient funds”. For diversity, the BBC Charter has become a promissory
note that has been returned marked insufficient commitment and inadequate
regulation.

Two years ago, Sir Peter
Bazalgette, then Chair of the Arts Council, told the Lords Communications
Committee inquiry on the BBC:

“The fundamental principle
here should be that public money should be spent for the benefit of everybody,
and the products of that public money – programming, arts events, whatever they
happen to be – should draw on all the talents of the country, not only to
reflect the country but to bring forward those people for their personal fulfilment
as well.”

Last year the new BBC Charter
appeared to deliver this. It came with a new clause, Article 14 which had the
word “Diversity” attached to it. Article 14 promised diversity in both internal
and external supply of BBC “output and services.”  

BBC external supply amounts to £1
billion annually. Last year, £433 million
was spent with the independent production sector, and hundreds of millions more
with rights holders, performers, talent directors, production resources and
musicians.

Ofcom has now announced its final plans
for regulating the BBC and nothing is being done by Ofcom to hold the BBC to
account for employment diversity in this £1 billion expenditure and there are
no signs that the BBC Board is doing anything either.

Baffling

Ofcom specifically excluded the
Diversity Article 14 from its consultation on BBC regulation. Equality experts
remain baffled by this and Ofcom has never explained why.

Ofcom was reluctant to take on
regulation of the BBC and it didn’t want to get involved in regulating
off-screen employment diversity.

Ofcom’s original draft proposals
published in March 2017 didn’t address off-screen diversity at all. Sustained
campaigning by Sir Lenny Henry, Campaign for Broadcasting Equality, Directors UK,
NUJ, Stonewall and powerful interventions from the DCMS Secretary of State,
Karen Bradley, Digital Minister, Matt Hancock, with Baroness Bonham-Carter, MPs
David Lammy, Helen Grant and others caused Ofcom to move a little.

Last month Ofcom published its final
version of its arrangements for regulating the BBC. It included a passing
reference to Article 14:

“In setting the conditions in the finalised Licence,
we have also had regard to the requirement for the BBC to comply with its
duties under the Charter, including its general duties (set out in articles
9-18). In particular, we have had regard to the requirement for the BBC to
comply with its general diversity duty under article 14 of the Charter, and
with its duty to make arrangements for promoting equality of opportunity under
paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 to the Agreement.1”

Ofcom is now requiring the BBC to
introduce a Code of Practice by April 2018 which will include “workforce
diversity of commissioned production teams”. But there are no requirements to measure
diversity in BBC external supply. Ofcom claims it has no powers to do this. If
Ofcom believes it has no such powers, it should be seeking to get them.

Indie
resistance

Diversity campaigners, seeking to advance
this issue, could face significant hurdles. The “indie” sector will not want
it. The “indie” sector is represented by PACT, a trade association. PACT’s
Chief Executive, John McVay, is a tough, shrewd, effective politician who has
done well for his members. In particular, he negotiated elements in the last
Charter which saw a larger proportion of BBC spend go to independents, and in
the new Charter he has ensured that all BBC programming will become open to
independents. McVay headed the diversity working group on the DCMS Creative
Industries Council and is Chair of the Creative Diversity Network (CDN). McVay
is well placed to resist such change.

We do not know the view of Ministers but
people who have their ear say they don't think
that extending the regulatory perimeter to include independent production
companies that work with the BBC is a feasible approach. They argue that indies
are commercial companies that work with a range of other public and commercial
providers beyond the BBC and that introducing regulatory requirements and
performance measures to secure greater diversity in external supply would risk undermining
a well-functioning competitive market. 

This
projects a fragility onto the indie sector which is very far from the robust
reality. Last year the top 100 indies had a combined turnover of £1.94 billion
and this is growing fast thanks to the demand from companies like Amazon,
Apple, Google and Netflix. In the commercial market suppliers are required to
meet different specifications for different projects. There is no reason why
some specific diversity requirement should not be part of the spec from the BBC.
It is part of the spec from Channel 4.

Diverse Channel 4

Channel
4, which does not receive public funds, is far ahead of the BBC and other
broadcasters on diversity. Unlike the BBC, C4 has specific % diversity
requirements, including off-screen, for independent commissions. These were met
for 83% of commissions in 2016.

Although
C4 publishes an exemplary annual assessment of each of its thirty diversity
initiatives, the impact of its Commissioning Diversity Guidelines requirements
remains opaque. Channel 4 should now advance to publishing granular data on
what has been achieved in employment diversity through these guidelines, as
well as diversity data on the top ten programmes in each genre.

Setting
and implementing BBC diversity requirements for external supply may be a
complex challenge but as Karen Bradley told the RTS Cambridge Convention, “The
BBC should be leading the way with both on and off-screen diversity………It will
not be straightforward but just because something is hard does not mean that we
shouldn’t try.” It is time for the BBC and Ofcom to address the £1billion
diversity gap. The BBC should not be trailing so far behind Channel 4.

Not me guv

We
shall have to wait until next year to see what progress BBC and Ofcom can make.
A lot will rest on the terms of the new BBC Code of Practice, the associated enforcement
procedures and penalties for falling short – and also on the provisions in the
new Annual Plan.

This month, appearing before
the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the BBC Chair, Sir
David Clementi, distanced himself deftly from the current BBC Report and
Accounts saying, “The 17/18 budget was pretty
much baked by the time this Board was put in place in April of this year.”
Clementi added, ”The set of
accounts that you have in front of you, we have published and do take
responsibility for, but essentially relate to a year when the new Board was not
in place and the old arrangements were.” This justifiable “not me guv” approach
must also apply to the current BBC Annual Plan.

The BBC Annual Plan provides a basis on
which Ofcom monitors the BBC’s progress towards
meeting its own goals. The BBC Annual Plan for 2017/18 section on diversity was
based on unreliable assertions and was limited in scope. When the 2018/19
Annual Plan and the diversity Code of Practice are published we will see if the
BBC Board plans to deliver effectively on internal and external diversity of
employment.

With no grounds for optimism, we can only
hope that the £1 billion of public money spent on BBC external supply will be spent for the benefit of everybody,
drawing on all the talents of the country and that Article 14 Diversity will
prove to be worth the paper on which it is written. As ever, in this, the
seventeenth year since the first comprehensive BBC Diversity Action Plan, we
continue to live with diversity deferred. 

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