The BBC World Service is going to be getting an investment soon. They will be receiving a low six figure sum from the US Department of state.
According to the Guardian, the money is supposed to be used to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries such as Iran and China.
The same government that doesn’t want to put money into its state-owned media outlet NPR (I don’t like NPR), is going to instead invest money in The BBC, a European media outlet that is state-owned. Can you see why people might a little pissed off about this?
You can imagine the venom that is spewing from the mouths of NPR supporters (usually liberals) who are now hearing about this. “Oh they’ll help the Europeans with their public media, but they’ll vote to defund ours,” is probably what they’ll say.
The money is being given to the BBC World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software. The funding is also going to be used to teach people in countries with state censorship how to get around the blocking of internet and TV services.
The thing is, it seems hard to believe that the money the US is giving to the BBC World Service doesn’t have any strings attached to it.
This is the United States we are talking about here, the same country who has engaged in outright state censorship itself. Remember the flimsy BitTorrent excuses the US government used for pulling down large amounts of websites? Remember how they bullied people into not hosting WikiLeaks documents?
There’s also the Lieberman bill: Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, and the Leahy bill: Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, both attempts to limit the spread of information on the Internet.
And yet we’re supposed to believe that the US government is just giving away this money to help the BBC provide news reports to people who have to live with state censorship. Pardon me for not believing in the intentions of the good ol’ US of A, but yeah, I don’t think so.
I think it’s more likely that the US Department of State is aware of the fact that many Americans now turn to European news outlets to get news about the United States and its policies. People have lost faith in the corporate media here in the US and they don’t trust them to report honestly about the most important issues.
And since the BBC is state owned media that relies on money from the government, the US State Department feels that giving money to the BBC World Service is a good way to gain some control over that media outlet.
In case you didn’t know the US never helps out another country unless there is something to be gained. And the US has something to gain if they can gain even a small measure of control over BBC World Service.
Big media companies are merging (NBC/Comcast), big telecoms are merging (AT&T/T-Mobile), and now interests in the US are slowly establishing financial ties to news outlets outside of the world.
But that’s just how the political economy of media is in the US. The corporate media system is not producing public watchdog journalism.