Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why news media must be public (commentary)

A renecnt advertising campaign that reeeeeally bothered me was CPAC's "We're better because we're independent" campaign. I only read about it in the paper, since I don't watch tv. However, the article explained that the spots featuring Tom Green (they would have gotten Rick Mercer, but his CBC contract wouldn't allow it!) claimed that CPAC was more reliable (than CBC, I would presume) because it is "owned by a group of cable companies" (I'm paraphrasing).

Uh, yeah. Rogers and Bell and Global. They don't have any interest in public policy whatsoever, do they?

Just now, it clicked for me: I was watching reading the director's introduction to the movie WAL-MART: The high cost of low price", which I was given a copy of recently. I had also just finished watching the producer's interview with Lou Dobbs on the website.

The introduction made a reference to footage of WAL-MART CEO Lee Scott that they had "secured". This reminded me that to use a media corporation's broadcast, you need their permission. Such permission means that the corporation can decide who they want to use their footage (e.g. of announcements, speeches, etc.). This gives them a way of being biased (i.e. not independent) towards the people they report on by only sharing the material with producers they know will use the footage in the way they want it to be used.

The only solution to avoid this conflict is to make all of their footage available for free, and the closest I think that we have is the BBC, which has opened up its entire archive for download on the internet (although I've never personally dabbled with trying to get a rebroadcast permit from any media company).

Ironically, the BBC is not, as CPAC put it, "independent". Go figure.

- RG>