The beleaguered viewer

While the prospect of News Corporation taking over the rest of Sky looms  larger, the non subscribing viewer has greater cause than ever to feel beleaguered.  Not only has Sky outbid the BBC for the excellent Mad Men, it has also signed up programmes from  Melvyn Bragg, David Attenborough and Eddie Izzard.

This hurts.  Bragg, Attenborough and Izzard are all greatly distinguished in their fields and  are men of honour, decency and liberal attitudes.  We are not saying they have sold out, if they really felt it necessary to hitch their wagons to this particular train.  And, yes of course, programme making is expensive, there is a free market out there and the BBC and other terrestrial channels are clearly unable to compete with the buying power of Sky.  

It does, however, leave the unsubscribing viewer with a bit of a blank screen.  DemocracyFail is sympathetic to boycotts, but our battle is for a systemic change to the rules of media ownership.  We reluctantly recognise that, since News Corporation has its tentacles in so many aspects of our lives, to consistently boycott all its media would be both limiting and difficult to achieve.   It’s not hard to understand why, for instance, sports enthusiasts feel they have little alternative.

But for many of us there is a difference between occasionally buying a copy of the Times or watching Fox’s Family Guy on BBC3, and becoming a regular subscriber to The Times paywall or Sky.  Whether we can afford to or not, we feel we cannot in all conscience sign up to News Corporation.   And so we will just have to be deprived of watching our favourite broadcasters.  

It is a pity though not the end of the world to miss their programmes, but there is another cause for discomfort.  If respected broadcasters, political campaigners and peers work for a Sky, as do so many already, can we expect their eminent voices to join ours?   Or are they a lost cause?

Media Guardian, ‘Sky Spreads Its Wings’


One response to “The beleaguered viewer

  1. I disagree with the article. So Sky has outbid the BBC for Madmen – big deal. State organised entertainment isn’t a fundamental human right. If Sky has the rights to Madmen then whoever wants to watch it, who can afford to, can subscribe to Sky. No difference to deciding whether to go to the cinema, or even stop off on the way home to buy a takeaway if you have enough cash on you.
    In fact, why do we have state organised entertainment broadcasting at all? It made sense when access to the electromagnetic spectrum was restricted. But with cable/satellite/internet/3g smartphone vectors, why does our state broadcaster broadcast imported drama at all? There may be an argument for support for program commissioning that reflects our society & history, but IMO entertainment should be funded by voluntary subscription/micropayment/advertising.

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