Censorship, or why the world needs the BBC 

6 January 2004 tbs.pm/741

allAfrica.com on Zambian censorship of the BBC World Service’s ‘Network Africa’.

I’d imagine that corruption, a chained press speaking with one voice, and oppression of those with views other than those that the Government wishes them to have, would be easy to hide. After all, you have corruption, a chained press and thought control to help in the hiding.

Even then, some countries have to get all hamfisted about it. Take Zambia. In case anyone was in any doubt about the state of freedom in this country, banning the rebroadcast of the BBC would confirm it – and publically, to the people of Zambia as well as the rest of the world.

Heaven help any country in the world that practices censorship of the media. They can’t succeed in the longterm and will find themselves overthrown for doing it just as soon as they would if they didn’t.

Of course, that opens a whole can of worms about censorship of different types in countries ‘without’ these problems. The Americans seem to require their news media to keep stumm on items that don’t fit in with what the Bush government wants them to think about. Whatever you do, don’t mention the USA’s concentration camp, please.

The Blair government in the UK also has these issues, though they’ve got ‘the progress of the market’ to solve the problem. For whilst the US can demand patriotism and thus gain silence from its commercial media, the UK has a major non-commercial broadcaster dedicated to the impartiality of news. It doesn’t always get it right (though it does manage to be more accurate than the entire newsprint of the UK could ever hope for), but the vast majority in the UK – and the world as a whole – would rather it did exist than didn’t.

But if the government can’t break the BBC over the Hutton Inquiry, they, unfortunately for democracy, freedom and quality broadcasting, have the Licence Fee ‘review’.

After all, if you can’t silence a ‘critic’, you can always privatise it. And find a bunch of desperate idiots to support the idea, in the name of progress… and freedom.

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