Socialist Party of Gt. Britain’s statement to the Annan Committee
Having submitted evidence to the Annan Committee on the Future of Broadcasting the Socialist Party of Great Britain were invited, along with other contributors, to comment on the subsequent Report of the Committee on the Future of Broadcasting published in March. We reproduce our statement below.
1. The reason for the media’s general persistence in refusing the Socialist Party of Great Britain the opportunity to state its views through the media is explained in para. 3.14 which states that minorities have no “rights” of access to the media. The report states that the media is “not a dialogue” but a “form of publishing”. In other words it is a one way process which gives the owners/controllers of the media a monopoly over the minds of those affected by ‘the process’. As a revolutionary party the SPGB is not so naive as to expect “rights” to be granted to us by a Royal Commission of reform, but see it as our responsibility to destroy the capitalist class monopoly over people’s minds through political organization for a classless, democratic world society. The report states that “our broadcasting system with a limited number of channels [cannot] perform such a service when the uniformity and cost of broadcasting makes it generally unsuitable as a means of communication between small numbers.” In other words, in capitalist society principles like democracy come second to those of “uniformity” and “cost”.
2. In para. 3.18 the report states that the media “tends to reinforce the cliches, say, about sport or money of our times”. Indeed, that is one of the principal reasons why the media is so heavily subsidized by the state in whose interests such cliches are preserved. The SPGB has the duty, not the right, to challenge the “cliches of our times”.
Rôle of the State
3. In paras. 3.20-3.23 the report deals with the rôle of the state in relation to the media it is suggested that broadcasters ought not to be allowed to decide what is “good for society” as this might lead to their taking control of the media for their own personal ends. Therefore, according to the report, the state should have ultimate control of the media. This implies that the state is in some ways a democratic representative of the people’s interests. This analysis is deceptive: the state is in existence to represent the interest of the ruling class. State control of the media therefore means class control of the media.
Broadcating Complaints Board
4. The report makes the specific proposal that a broadcasting complaints board be set up. The significant issue to us is the method which such a body would employ to determine the validity of a complaint. Would such a body be purely concerned with factual errors which are commonly accepted as being erroneous, or would it allow an organization putting a complaint to substantiate its case against inaccurate information? As one example of many we may cite the numerous organizations, governments and armies which the media refers to as being “Marxist”, thus discrediting genuine Marxists, even though many of these organizations do not even claim to be Marxist and many of those that do are not.
5. Para. 18.9 deals with the criteria for selection of organizations for access programmes. One criterion not mentioned is that political parties are not allowed access to broadcasting unless they are advocating reforms. Thus, the National Front were recently given an access programme to put forward their views about immigration. The SPGB, because we are a revolutionary party standing for a single object and not for reforms, is therefore excluded.
6. In para. 17.15 there is a misrepresentation of the contribution of the SPGB to the Annan report. We did not say that there is a bias by the media against the Left wing and we strongly object to being coupled with the Communist Party of Great Britain in having made this alleged remark. Any bias by the media is not, in our opinion, based on a conscious effort to exclude or discredit Socialist ideas, but on a total unawareness of what Socialism means. In this the workers in the media are not alone and so the Socialist Party of Great Britain will continue to propagate our ideas in every way available to us.