September 2, 2007 : The Conspiracy of Silence at the BBC, the ABC and the CBC
Is there something endemic in state broadcasting in the Anglophone world which makes it taboo to discuss the population question and to air views that are critical of immigration? If so, where is it coming from: the journalists, the presenters, the researchers, the producers or the administrators? Is state media more a captive of political correctness than the private media?
In attempting to answer some of these questions, it is useful to look at two fascinating accounts, one about the British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC), another about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (the ABC) and finally to summarize the disgraceful record of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
In “The Treason of the BBC” , the late Jack Parsons argued that “The BBC has been systematically excluding virtually all material on the question of basic population policy.” For example, BBC reporters allowed Beverly Hughes, a former Minister of Immigration, to “blandly repeat, unchallenged, the government’s mindless policy of continued mass immigration to meet the alleged needs of the economy.” Also, it granted a free pass to former Home Secretary Charles Clark to say that there were ‘no obvious limits’ to net migration and rapid growth. At the same time, the BBC did not question the fact that “our present government has adopted a policy (without discussion or mandate) of deliberately increasing our numbers by about one million every five years,” making Britain the fastest growing country in Europe with a population density almost twice that of China.
Parsons asks, “How can BBC claims about the carrying capacity of the prison system and its “overpopulation” be made so openly, so effortlessly, so devoid of fear and moral opprobrium, while not the slightest hint can ever be allowed to slip out vis a vis the vastly more important case of the carrying capacity and numbers of the nation as a whole?”
He accuses those who run the BBC of “colluding in a very Great Betrayal, fostering the myth that human numbers have so little consequence that there is no need to take them seriously.” “The charge I am leveling at all executive levels of the BBC as a corporate body concerns what I am convinced is coercive, institutionalized bias which for years has prevented virtually all BBC news of, and discussion about, a literally vital object, the long-term balance between human numbers, resources and the quality of life…; this was not always so, but has been the case for at least 15 years.”
The signs of population myopia were apparent to Parsons in 1967 when he asked the BBC why it was so concerned about the Tory Canyon Oil-Tanker Spill disaster, but so unconcerned about the doubling of the world’s population in 30 years. Since the early seventies, “a steady and insidious process among governing circles, opinion-formers, the greater bulk of the media, including the BBC, has built a powerful and near universal censorship, by consent…that the absolutely fundamental ecology question, the need for a sustainable balance between numbers and resources—is almost totally ignored. The sad corollary of this is that mass migration—since it has a major and obvious impact on the overall population situation—cannot be rationally discussed either.”
Parsons, in a letter to a BBC Complaints Unit, asks, “Dare one hope that, one of these days, someone in the higher echelons of the BBC will screw his/her courage to the sticking point and actually issue and follow through on a set of instructions that free the BBC—and hence the nationfrom this appalling and near-totally disabling taboo.” He is given to wonder “Why does this large, wealthy, powerful, highly prestigious institution…cringe so abjectly at the very idea of free speech in the realm of discourse?” And why the taboo? “Has there been an explicit but secret directive to all producers to steer clear of the subject? Has this policy been built up by means of nods, winks and frowns on high; or does it stem from tacit acceptance by all concerned at the prevailing orthodoxy in the wider society?”
According to Parsons, four things are needed to reform the BBC. Firstly, there needs to be major change in ‘media Zeitgeist’ (thinking) that will permit an open discussion about population. Secondly, the BBC needs to “stop cowering beneath its cloak of political correctness” and, by honest analysis, foster the emergence of a mature, ecologically informed electorate. Thirdly, the BBC needs to hire reporters who are population experts. “Some BBC presenters, who have an overweening confidence in their qualifications, start laying down the law on those population topics which are allowed a mention, and in the process frequently display their ignorance…They pick up and mindlessly repeat half-baked notions about alleged labour shortages and pension problems, and swallow hook, line and sinker any free-floating opinions about how much better things will continue to become as numbers inexorably swell.”
Fourthly, it would be nice if the BBC followed its own Producer Guidelines. “Due impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC. All BBC programmes and services should be open-minded, fair and show a respect for truth. No significant strand of thought should go unreflected or unrepresented at the BBC.”
Until then, however, its Motto will remain that of the Three allegedly Wise Monkeys: See no population problem! Hear no population problem! Speak no population problem!
Mark O’Connor, poet and one-time Vice-President of Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population (AESP, re-named SPA), has made a similar assessment of the ABC. In his upcoming book, “Overloading Australia”, O’Connor concedes that the ABC is critical to Australian democracy and is able to speak to the people—“and often does”. “But the ABC has in some parts of its news and current affairs sections failed to provide objectivity or fairness to portray debates or news coverage relating to population, immigration or economics.” It is living the Comfortable Lie: that growth is good and sustainable, and that the mass immigration that fuels it must continue. “The fact must be faced. There is something deeply wrong in some parts of it.”
But O’Connor is unable to locate precisely where the fault lies. Whether researchers withhold information from presenters, or presenters refuse to use the research provided to them, or whether producers, strategy planners or management dictate programming, is a question outside observers can’t answer. “But there certainly is a bias,” he asserts.
He offers some examples of this bias. During those years when Australia had the highest per capita immigrant intake of any country in the world, the ABC refused to challenge propagandists who illogically and brazenly claimed that Australia’s high immigration intake was “shamefully low” and “proof of racism”. In addition, the ABC collaborated with both the government and the opposition party to promote high immigration by ignoring inconvenient facts like the one about Australia’s high per capita immigrant intake and suppressing most of the debate. And while going after the jugular of the One Nation Party as if it were alone in its call for a zero net immigration policy, “among its many acts of censorship, ABC TV News suppressed the fact that the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Democrats (two other parties) had long been calling for zero net migration.”
O’Connor speculates as to why the ABC behaves in this manner. “The ABC’s failure through nearly three decades to deal with population issuesthe most important matter facing Australia today— may have less to do with individuals than with a pervasive institutional culture.” Nevertheless, “if there are such persons blocking the debate, then it is assuredly time they were persuaded to move on to other areas where their biases will do less harm.”
He concludes, “The ABC has a problem with its news service and current affairs programs. It may not be able to rectify past unfairness, but it needs urgently to offer guarantees that the censorship will cease, and that at least in future those who disagree with high immigration or with ‘birth-bribes’ will receive equal time on its programs.” New ‘balance and accountability’ guidelines announced by management in October of 2006 “will not address ABC News’ pro-growth, pro-natalist, pro-conventional economic views.”
Can what has so far been said of the BBC and the ABC be said of the CBC as well? In one word, yes, and more. While some regional centres have attempted to bring more balance to immigration issues, CBC Radio, especially the National centre in Toronto and the Vancouver centre, have emphatically not. In general, the CBC (like the ABC previously) has refused to engage the public on the two questions that critics keep asking: Why is the government importing more people per capita than any other country in the world? And what effect is this infux, which gives us the highest growth rate of any G8 nation, having on our economic, cultural and environmental health?
Timidity and cowardice are not the exclusive province of CBC journalists, but the fact is that only the private media outlets have on occasion exposed abuses of the immigration system and questioned the country’s high immigration intake. The CBC, on the other hand, has done what it can to promote mass immigration on the basis of its misinterpretation of its 1991 legislated mandate to promote “multiculturalism”. Somehow, CBC logic equates the stated “CBC Vision” (to reflect “the cultural diversity of our people”) with support for mass immigration. In addition, to the CBC, the promotion of a diversity of cultures displaces the promotion of a diversity of opinions.
Those very many Canadians who voice negative concerns about immigration are simply denied airtime by the people they subsidize. As Immigration Watch Canada has noted, the CBC sees no contradiction between holding out one hand to ask for public funding while clenching the other in a fist to drive into the mouth of the taxpayer who dares to challenge the CBC line on immigration. Furthermore, the CBC allows generous airtime and interviews with pro-immigration groups, so that they may in turn, as a quid pro quo, advertise for the non-commercial CBC. So to partiality and deceit, one can therefore add corruption to the list of CBC immigration vices.
So what then is the remedy? Suffice it to say that the CBC’s commitment to mass immigration and multiculturalism comes at the cost of balanced, honest journalism. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage can obviously rectify this situation by ordering the CBC executive to answer for this conflict of interest. It can further help by demanding that the CBC terminate the corporation’s corrupt arrangements with the immigration industry, its blatant pro-immigration advocacy and the employment of its employees who engage in it.
Such measures would seek not to curb journalistic freedom, but to end shameless CBC journalistic abuse—and return public broadcasting to the public. As with the BBC and ABC, our National Broadcaster should be offering a forum where indeed “no significant strand of thought should go unreflected or unrepresented”. The exclusion of topics or the shunning of voices should be foreign to its corporate culture and democratic mission.
The BBC, ABC and CBC conspiracy to silence critics of immigration and population growth has been an insult to democracy and to the public that has had to put up with it. The conspiracy has to end now.
Quadra Island, B.C.