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Hacked Off’s Leveson petition stinks

The Hacked Off Leveson petition stinks to high heaven. The BBC reported the launch of the petition on Friday (complete with convenient link) and then relentlessly promoted it on Radio 4 news programmes for the next two days. I could not think of a better way of targeting the woolly-headed, bien pensant left. And it was all for free!

The BBC puffed it on the Radio 4 PM programme on Friday when it was 16,000. It made it the lead item on the Friday 7pm news bulletin, a totally disproportionate editorial decision, when it was at 24,000. The BBC pushed it again on the Radio 4 Saturday lunchtime news when it was over 50,000. As of the time of writing it stands at 125,000.

It is worth noting that the BBC did not report Swedish MEP Cecilia Malmstrom’s One Seat petition until that reached one million. Similarly with Peter Roberts’ road pricing petition. It is also worth noting that Robert’s petition successfully used the No 10 petitions site which asked people for their addresses as well as e-mail addresses and then asked them to confirm back that they were real people from their e-mail inboxes. The Hacked Off petition just asks for a name and e-mail.

This morning the Daily Mail is reporting that the Labour party has been using its e-mail lists to push the petition too (after first trying to use Leveson as yet another vehicle to suck up the e-mail addresses of the vulnerable). I wonder how respectful of that private data it will be when election time comes around? On Friday Miliband was saying sign our petition but had switched to backing the BBC endorsed Hacked Off petition on Saturday.

Hacked Off is partisan and represents a very narrow sectional interest. The way it and the Media Standards Trust are trying to skew the debate on Leveson is inimical to our democracy.

6 replies on “Hacked Off’s Leveson petition stinks”

I didn’t see the Leveson petition quite the way you did. I signed it because I searched for one, not because I saw it reported. I read the report and much of the comment on it, and decided that my feeling that the ‘press’ is a very powerful and influential lobby that misuses its position was supported by what I read. Since signing the petition, my view has been confirmed (in my own eyes) by the way the press have launched such a vicious series of attacks on the motives and even the existence of people like me who signed a petition because I believed in what it said. I am quite surprised really that people should be so very very angry at other people who simply express such a view – it seems to me that the essence of ‘free speech’ (and not just ‘freedom for the press alone’) is that people like me should be allowed to express a view, and sign a petition, without that act being denigrated and claimed to be part of some conspiracy. You are entitled to your own view too, of course, and equally I suppose entitled to claim that other views are simply the result of some evil campaign, so I suppose this is just part of the price we have to pay for free speech – that it often descends into freedom to insult.

My address, if you wish to be reassured that I exist, is:

FoXXXXer
XXXd Road
WXXing GU22 0XZ

My telephone number is 079X1 1X321X and I would be happy to talk if you wanted to, but of course do not wish to waste your time or mine on a futile argument: I just thought it worthwhile to reassure you that not everybody whose view differs from your own does not really exist, or is some lackey of an imagined left-wing conspiracy.

Sincerely,

Chris Bore

Chris,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I have obscured your personal details with Xs.

My main concern is the way the BBC has promoted the petition rather than the petition itself (although I do think Hacked Off is partisan and represents a very narrow sectional interest and isn’t not at all honest about that or its funding).

I thought that it was very wrong of the BBC to promote the petition so nakedly. They didn’t promote other much larger petitions in the same way. The BBC has overweaning power in the news media in this country.

Indeed the first Leveson recommendation in terms of media plurality (para 85) of Exec. Summary says:

“The particular public policy goals of ensuring that citizens are informed and preventing too much influence in any one pair of hands over the political process are most directly served by concentrating on plurality in news and current affairs. This focus should be kept under review.”

The Ofcom figures on this are quite shocking. They show that the BBC is dominant in internet, radio and TV news. The BBC owns 70% of TV news viewing which is itself 73% of news consumption. The BBC owns 54% of radio news listening and 40% of internet news consumption. For the BBC to use this overweaning power to effectively attack the one, already beleagured sector, that they do not dominate seems like as gross an abuse as many pointed out be Leveson.

Ofcom figures here: http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/OfcomPITReport_NewsCorp-BSkyB_31DEC2010.pdf

Fair enough. The BBC deserves no defence. The Sun’s response to the Leveson petition differs markedly, at the same stage in terms of numbers, from its position on the fuel petition so the BBC is not alone in exerting its influence in a biased way. I understand your viewpoint now and agree with you on the specific point about the BBC.

Most dear Sir,

Should you but practice clarity in language, tied to accurracy, and eschewing tendentiousness, then might you rightfully beg the same of others. It seems to me at the moment that you do not, Phil. My understanding of viewers, and likewise listeners, is that the BBC does not “own” them, nor does anyone else for that matter, it ‘attracts’ them, thus it might ‘possess’ them, a slight difference, would you not think.

My hesitation in signing this particular petition is due to my disquiet about those who have taken over managing it and with whom I have no wish to be associated. I am looking for one being circulated with attachment to no particular ideology, no particular system, no seeking credit, and self-promotion. The latter worry me, as usurpers. Whereas the vast number, it seems, of people wishing full adoption of the Leveson Inquiry, come from the full spectrum of society, so it appears from my observations.

Finally, in a full adoption of the Leveson Inquiry, my wish is for an enabling Act, not a prescriptive, and proscriptive, one.

Regards, Paul
05Dec12 2039

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