Mediawatch-UK

Friday, 21 December 2012

A wonderfully positive end to 2012





Last week the government published the results of their consultation into protecting children online which rejected the idea of an automatic block on explicit sites.  However, yesterday

David Cameron announced that web filters would
now be default for all houses with children.

In the future new users will be asked, the first time they switched on a computer, whether or not there are children in the house.  If they answer yes they will be prompted to tailor filters which include options to block particular kinds of content, individual sites or restrict access at specific times of day.  If parents click through the options quickly in the set up, filters against pornography and self harm sites will be left on. They will also have to verify that they are over 18.

Mr Cameron has appointed Claire Perry MP as his adviser on reversing the commercialisation and sexualisation of children.  Mrs Perry led the campaign for wider online filters in the UK and she will now be in charge of implementing this new filter system. 

This is a huge step in the right direction although it remains to be seen just how the system will function and whether or not it will offer the same degree of protection as the ‘opt-in’ option.  It is also still unclear whether this filter will work at device or network level and how it will be rolled out to existing customers; consumers don’t often change their ISPs and, given a 15% ‘churn’ rate, it would take 6 years until restrictions were on most computers which is an unacceptably long time. 

However, this is undoubtedly good news; this new system means that the UK will be leading the world in making the online environment safe for children.

Thank you for your part in making this a reality.

It’s a wonderful, positive way to end 2012. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Friday, 14 December 2012

Protecting children online: the 'official' view




Today the Government published its response to the consultation on parental internet controls which took place earlier this year.  You can read the full response here.

The consultation reveals that 57 per cent of the 757 parents who responded to the consultation were in favour of stricter controls, including 47 per cent who wanted an opt-in system.

However, in total, just one in six of the 3,509 respondents – most of whom were not parents – supported the full opt-in solution.  According to media reports two-thirds of the respondents were from the Open Rights Group, which campaigns against default filters to block online pornography.

The report recommends that:

  • Internet service providers actively encourage people to switch on parental controls if children are in the household and will be using the internet.

  • Internet service providers should actively encourage parents – whether new or existing customers – to switch on parental controls.

  • The industry, including retailers and device manufacturers, should work to develop universally-available, family-friendly internet access.  All internet-enabled devices should be supplied with the tools to keep children safe as standard.

Ministers will now work with industry, charities and experts to make these recommendations a reality.  This process will begin at the board meeting of the UK Council for Children Internet Safety on Monday.

We are delighted that real attention is being paid to children’s online safety and action is now taking place.  However we are disappointed that the recommendations fall someway short of the opt-in measure which we, and many other charities and children’s organisations, believe to be the best way to ensure that the majority of children are protected from harmful online material.  Our campaign for this vital protection continues and we will let you know the next step – and how you can get involved – in the New Year.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Learning the lessons of porn




Last month the National Association of Head Teachers controversially recommended that children should be taught about the impact of pornography as part of the sex education curriculum.

They pointed out that children have easy access to hardcore material on the internet and they need to be aware of its dangers and potential impact.

This week the position was clarified by Education Minister, Liz Truss, in answer to a parliamentary question.  She said that schools are free to tackle the subject of pornography in an age appropriate fashion as part of PSHE lessons.

Although many children are not looking for pornography, pornography is looking for them.  The sad fact is that the vast majority will encounter it as they grow up.  Now we need to equip them with the skills they need to deal with the effects of our overtly sexualised world.

As a society we have failed to face up to the effects of pornography and it is our children who have become the casualties. 

We are na├»ve if we think we can prevent children getting access to pornographic images.  We can control computer access, television and smart phones at home but, as things stand, these measures will barely stem the tide of images and themes which come at them from sources we can’t control, such as friends and peers.  
A recent study revealed that, whilst 50% of parents were confident they knew how to track what their child did online, 80% teenagers said they knew how to hide their online behaviour from their parents.   Almost one in three British parents makes no effort at all to monitor their teenager's activity online.

It’s a sad indictment of our society today but it is far better that we teach children that pornography is not like real life and portrays a distorted view of sexuality and relationships than leave them to make sense of it alone.

However, introducing lessons to help children deal with the impact of pornography is merely a sticking plaster solution; we need to tackle the cause as well as the effect.

The government must implement an opt-in system to limit the risk of children accessing online sexual content as a matter of urgency. 

The consultation into how best to protect children online which ran this summer was shorter than usual to allow a speedy response.  However, despite the high number of submissions received, minsters have yet to respond or even reveal the majority view.  The government is dragging its feet on this issue and a further generation of children will pay the price.

Friday, 16 November 2012

What next for the BBC?




This week has been a very difficult one for the BBC.   False allegations of paedophilia against a Conservative Party grandee have led to the resignation of the Director General, the possible demise of the flagship Newsnight programme, and the paying out of substantial libel damages.

Broadcasting has a huge impact on society; in the words of Andrew Greystone of the Church & Media Network “the events at the BBC, which were kicked-off not by malice amongst programme-makers but by the wickedness of a former presenter, will simply compound the much wider loss of public trust in national institutions.”

Our call for responsible broadcasting – which goes far beyond just that which reaches the airwaves - has never been more vital.

But we must defend that which is good.  There are plenty who would dearly love to see the BBC seriously curtailed.  Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival a few years ago James Murdoch attacked the BBC for ‘dumping state sponsored news’ into the market; of course the news the BBC is accused of dumping is exactly that for which News Corps would like to charge.  Instead of ‘state sponsored’ news Mr Murdoch would like to see big business sponsored news

He said that the only ‘reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit’ – not quality, standards or diversity, just profit. 

We should bear in mind that broadcasting has a far greater impact and influence on society than just profits.

We may not always agree with all the decisions made by the BBC, or the totality of its output, but it does aspire to the highest standards in journalism and its other productions.  In many ways it sets the benchmark for other broadcasters.  The resignation of George Entwistle is a recognition that those high standards have not been met and that they are, ultimately, more important than members of staff and individual programmes.

We are delighted that a formal independent investigation into culture and practices at the BBC is taking place and that important questions are being asked about the way the BBC is managed.  

This evening the BBC will host its annual Children in Need telethon.  Children in Need is the BBC’s corporate charity which works to help disadvantaged children in the UK and, since it’s inception in 1980, it has raised over £650 million.  This BBC initiative is a laudable example of the impact and that influence that the institution and its output has on our society.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Balancing free speech and child protection




Today a law that aims to protect children from harmful internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline has taken effect in Russia.  Websites can now be blacklisted and forced offline without a trial and, if the sites themselves cannot be closed, ISPs will be forced to block access to them.


This law has been described by critics as yet another attempt by President Putin to exercise control over the population.  "Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that," warned a spokesman for the human rights organisation Citizens' Watch.

We have been campaigning for some time for better protection for children online in the UK; we would like to see a system whereby potentially harmful websites are blocked as a default unless adult users specifically opt in to access them.

This is not the same as the new Russian system.

The UK proposal involves an independent regulator which would be tasked with setting clear parameters of what would, and what would not be, acceptable on a ‘clean feed’.  Websites which felt they were being unfairly blocked would have a right to appeal any decision.

Earlier this year we found that our website and blog were being blocked by filters designed to offer a safe browsing experience for children on mobile devices.  These filters are applied as a default on all mobile devices which access the internet unless adult users choose to remove them.  Although neither our blog nor our website include pornography such material is alluded to in the context of our campaign and our sites were being filtered out.

We contacted the Mobile Broadband Group and pointed out the misclassification and it was a simple matter to get the restrictions lifted.  

Protecting children online is vital but so is protecting free speech.  Our experience shows that the system we already have in place in the UK for mobile browsing is working and errors are easily rectified.  Later this year the outcome of the recent consultation into protecting children online will be announced, it is to be hoped that mis-advised concerns about censorship are not be elevated above children’s online safety.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The XXX Generation



This week the results of study by Plymouth University were published.  Academics found that it was ‘common practice’ for children to become desensitised to sexual images after accessing hard core material at an early age.  They found that some young people are becoming ‘hooked’ on online pornography even before they become sexually active, leading to problems later in life.

The problem would appear to be endemic with some children saying that they first watched pornography ‘aged 11 or 12’.  One 14 year old pupil told researchers that he couldn’t “believe there was anyone in his year who hadn’t seen it.”

Let’s be in no doubt that we are not talking about soft-focus smut and come-hither glances.  The pornography which our children are able to reach with just a few clicks of a mouse is hard-core, dehumanising, debasing and often violent.

For years we have been peddled the lie that pornography is harmless fun.  The results of this research show that this is just not the case.  One third of young adults are experiencing relationship problems because of what they have seen online.  As a Relate spokesperson said, pornography distorts their views of what “a normal sex life could and should be like.”

It is hardly surprising that the National Association of Head Teachers has called for age appropriate sex education guidelines to cover ‘the impact of porn’.  “Children are growing up in an overtly sexualised world”, explained their Policy Advisor, “that includes easy access to porn and they need the skills to deal with it."

As a society, we have failed to face up to the effects of pornography and it is our children who have become the casualties.

Later this year the outcome of the recent consultation into protecting children online will be announced.  It is to be hoped that commercial interests or mis-advised concerns about censorship do not prevent the Government taking a stand to ensure that children are adequately protected from the poisonous effects of pornography.  We can no longer afford to ignore the urgency of this issue and we must act now before a further generation pays the price.   

Protecting children in a digital world




A report published recently found that British children aged between nine and 16 spend over 100 minutes each day on the internet.

The researchers from LSE who carried out the study also found that half of UK children go online using a mobile device which, they noted, put ‘them in the vanguard of new risks associated with personal internet access and, equally, making protective oversight by their parents more difficult.’

This information comes just a week after another survey revealed that parents are increasingly worried about their children accessing potentially harmful material on mobile phones. Although mobile networks do automatically block access to adult content on their own networks modern devices with a wi-fi capability mean that children could still potentially access such material unless further filters are installed.

This is of great concern as by the age of 13 nearly all children in the UK own a mobile phone yet almost a third of parents are unaware of safety tools which can help to protect their children.

We are awaiting the outcome of the Government’s recent consultation into online safety and it is to be hoped that a default block on harmful material unless users specifically opt in to view it, will be recommended. We think this will offer children the most protection but, in the meantime, it is vital that parents engage with online safety issues.

It is not enough to trust websites to have policies in place to protect children. Earlier this year the sexualised content routinely found on the children’s social network Habbo Hotel was exposed. John Carr of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety has said that he believes self-regulation of social networking sites to be ‘a big con’.

He suggests that online brands should be more closely regulated by external organisations such as Ofcom or legislation should be introduced to force companies to adopt online safety guidelines.

This is an important issue; although Facebook and most other social networks require children to be a least 13 years old before they sign up, 28% of nine and 10 years olds have an online profile. We cannot afford to take risks with their future.

  • If you need help with protecting your children online please visit our website safeonline.org.uk which has been updated with sources of information that you will find useful.
  • You can also find information on online safety at UK Safer Internet Centre.  Next year Safer Internet Day will take place on 5th February with the theme 'Online Rights and Responsibilities' and the organisation is running a Have Your Say survey on children's internet use, the results of which will be handed to the Government on Safer Internet Day.  Please consider sharing details of this initiative with children and those responsible for caring with them.  It will be a great way for them to bring their concerns about online safety to the attention of the Government.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Who is raising our children?




The news over the last few days has been full of discussion about whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney ‘won’ the first of the televised debates of the American presidential election.  With the result of the election still seen as being ‘too close to call’ both candidates were hopeful that their performances, and subsequent media coverage, would win over undecided voters.  The presidential candidates, and their election machinery, are in no doubt as to the power of the media to influence views and behaviour.

The power of the media to affect behaviour should certainly come as no surprise to us.  From supermarkets selling out of cranberries when Delia Smith used them on television to the drama Mad Men bringing the styles of the 1960s back into fashion, the media helps to create and reinforce our outlook on life. 

And yet, despite this undoubted power of the media, for many years broadcasters have justified their more questionable output, telling us that what they produce is entertainment and has no effect on those who consume it.  Whenever I see such claims I am reminded that it was not that many years ago that cigarette manufacturers were also denying that their products could harm consumers.  

Of course, like many powerful forces, the ability of the media to influence behaviour can be used to both good and ill effect; in the last few days more women have found the courage to report the abuse they suffered during their childhoods since media reports of allegations that Jimmy Savile abused teenagers during the 1970s and 80s. 

But the effects can also be negative, and society ignores this reality at its peril.  Repeated exposure to extreme and negative behaviour, whether violent or sexual, can shape and reinforce attitudes and behaviour.  As children we learn to make sense of the world and develop our response to it by observing the behaviour of those around us.   The current generation of children are the first to be raised who have almost unlimited access to a diet of extreme violence and pornography via both television and the internet.

As a society we are conducting a huge experiment on our children and the long term effects are barely beginning to be understood.  Taking the cigarette analogy one step further we are currently allowing our children to smoke 40 Woodbines a day whilst turning a deaf ear to the chesty coughs.   We want to protect our children’s health and to get society to ‘wake up’ to the powerful influence that the media is having on the way children perceive the world and treat themselves and those around them.

This is why our campaign for a responsible media has never been more important.

Director

Friday, 28 September 2012

Drugs Live: experiment or advertisement?



This week Channel 4 devoted two hours of prime-time programming to the controversially titled ‘Drugs Live’.  A quick glance at the TV listings for the programme might have given the impression that it would feature a series of volunteers taking drugs live on air; the trailers which Channel 4 ran for the programme did not completely disabuse potential viewers of this notion either.

In fact the braodcast was a documentary and discussion which focussed on a clinical trial, which took place in July, was officially licensed by the Home Office and which will be submitted to a scientific journal.

However, watching subjects in a brain scanner does not make for riveting television which is an issue for a broadcaster covering a scientific trial in a slot more usually reserved for Shameless and the The Inbetweeners. 

When the programme was originally announced last year Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer, Jay Hunt, described the programme as bringing ‘mischief’ back to the channel.  It has originally been hoped to show the drug-taking live although this was vetoed by the Home Office so the live element of the show was a studio discussion hosted by John Snow and Dr Christian Jenssen.

The subsequent programme had the feel of an election night broadcast complete with temperamental microphones and vox-pops.

Laudable though the aims of the clinical trial may have been it was very difficult for viewers to reach informed opinions on rather sophisticated science from watching such a disjointed programme.  Proper conclusions will only be reached after the results of the trial are published and peer-reviewed.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph Professor Les Iversen of Oxford University, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, questioned the scientific value of the broadcast:

“The dressing up of the Channel 4 project as ‘research’ is flimsy, and there is a danger that such programmes may glamorise drug-taking as a form of entertainment.”

He is quite right: scientific fact and voyeuristic entertainment make uneasy bedfellows.  It is to be hoped that the ultimate outcome of this TV first is a greater understanding for brain scientists rather than the damage of vulnerable viewers.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The sexualisation of our society



This week has seen widespread condemnation of the publication of pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge topless.  Ironically The Sun, one of the first newspapers to condemn the publication of such intrusive photographs, runs a picture of a topless young woman every day and has done so since 1970.

There have been many campaign to have the page removed before; most notably by Claire Short in the 1980s who was branded ‘fat and jealous’ by the paper when her parliamentary bill failed.  However, concerns about press ethics have made this a hot issue once again.

Author and actor, Lucy-Anne Holmes, was enraged during the Olympics, when British women such as Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton were successfully representing their country, that the biggest image of a female in the paper was the daily topless offering.

She wrote to the editor of The Sun and asked him to stop running topless pictures on page 3.  Predictably she didn’t receive a reply and so, on 5th September, she decided to set up a petition called ‘No More Page 3’ asking the paper’s editor to stop showing topless women in his paper. 

She promoted her petition through her social media accounts and it soon caught the public imagination and went viral.  At the time of writing, over 28,000 people have signed it and it has been mentioned in almost all the broadsheet newspapers although, predictably, not in The Sun. 

So much attention has this petition received that one of the UK’s leading bookmakers is now taking bets on when it will reach 100,000 signatures.  A spokesman for Paddy Power said: "The smart money says it will happen sometime in the next couple of months."

The Sun introduced a topless girl on page 3 in November 1970; it was the first time a British newspaper had run a nude photograph and, although controversial, it boosted circulation so from 1975 it became a daily feature. 

From our perspective in 2012, with hard-core pornography available to all at the click of a mouse, it can seem so innocent.  However ‘page 3’ lead the way and has contributed to the objectification and commodification of women and their bodies in our society.  It paved the way for much stronger images becoming mainstream in newspapers, magazines and on screen. 

As such it has impacted all of us whether or not we buy or read the paper.  Parents report that their children are being prematurely sexualised and forced to grow up too fast, cosmetic surgery rates have increased by nearly 20% in the last four years and an unrealistic body ideal is damaging our society by wreaking havoc with self esteem and affecting health and relationships.

We are delighted that this issue is once again in the news and we hope the petition continues to grow and shows that the picture of women presented by The Sun is unacceptable.  But let’s not just tinker around the edges; there is an even greater menace freely available to all.

It is to be hoped that all those who sign this petition also consider the effect that online pornography is having.  It’s effect on our society - not just those who use it but all of us – is potentially even more devastating. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ofcom failing in its duty to protect children



Viewers of The X Factor, broadcast at 8pm on Saturday 8th September, were confronted with what was effectively a lap dance, during which a contestant straddled one of the judges dressed in just a bikini and a fishnet body stocking.

In our society stripping and other forms of sexual dancing are confined to the adult domain and children are not allowed to enter such establishments.  It is totally unacceptable to have similar material show on pre-watershed television, particularly in a programme which is promoted as family viewing.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident.  In the region of 3,000 people complained to Ofcom about semi-clothed dancers performing highly sexualised routines on the same programme back on 2010 and earlier this year Britain’s Got Talent featured a burlesque stripper.

In both cases Ofcom found neither broadcast breached their code which requires that children must be protected from material that is unsuitable for them.

Following this latest broadcast we have written to Ofcom in the strongest terms pointing out that their failure to regulate adequately in the past had led to what they describe as being ‘at the very margin of acceptability’ to become mainstream.

Parents surveyed at the time of the Bailey Review into the Sexualistion of Childhood felt that their children were being forced to grow up too quickly, with nearly half of them unhappy with pre-watershed TV.  Is it any wonder they feel let down when Ofcom is failing to protect their interests so spectacularly?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Thank you for having your say


The government’s consultation into how best to protect children online closed on 6th September.  We don’t yet have accurate figures on how many people responded but we understand it to be in excess of two thousand.  If this is correct than it would appear that approximately one third of these responses came via our website safeonline.org.uk site.

Thank you so much for using it to make your views known.  We are hopeful that the government will be left in no doubt as to the strength of public opinion on this issue.  We will, of course, keep you up to date with further news as we receive it.

If you or anyone you know is caring for children and would like help with online safety issues please do visit Safeonline.org.uk again.  The site remains active and we have updated it with sources of information which we hope will assist you in keeping your children protected.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Last chance to have your say!


There is now under a week to go until the consultation into how best to protect children online ends.  

If you have not already made your views known you have until Thursday 6th September.

Claire Perry MP who has been key in making this consultation a reality has sent the following message:

The closing date for submissions to the UKCCIS consultation into Parental Internet Controls is drawing near and it is absolutely vital that everyone who is concerned about this issue to submit their own views so that the Government has a broad understanding of the underlying problems in this area. 

As someone who has shown an interest in the issue of Online Child Protection, I want to encourage you and other supporters, especially parents, to contribute to this consultation and give your opinions on how we can better protect children online.   More information on the consultation and how to respond can be found here.

The more submissions this exercise receives, the more Ministers will understand the serious concerns many people across the country feel about Online Child Safety and I hope you will participate in the consultation before the deadline.

Yours sincerely,
Claire Perry MP

If you have not yet responded to the consultation may I urge you to take the time to do so before Thursday’s deadline?  Our website, Safeonline.org.uk, is a one-stop-shop where you can finds facts about the issues, links to key resources and a response form with some handy hints all in the same place. 


Please don’t feel intimidated; you don’t need to answer any questions you don’t want to and, although the Government would welcome your comments, you need only tick boxes to indicate your preferences if you prefer which should take you no longer than five minutes.

If you have responded, thank you so much.  Please consider whether you could, in these last few days, get the news out to your friends and associates.   

This is a fantastic opportunity for us to let the government know how important these issues are to us and to push for real change.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Protecting Children Online: still time to have your say



We have been delighted by the response to our campaign website, www.safeonline.org.uk.  Hundreds of people have taken the time to let the government know their views on how best to protect children online.

The consultation on how children should be protected online is an historic opportunity for us to let the government know our views and demand change.

We have just over a week left to make our views known before the consultation closes on 6th September.  Are you able to help to spread the word?

  • Could you tell your friends and family and encourage them to respond?

  • Could you let your email contacts know?

  • Could you ask for details to be included in notices going out from networks to which you belong such as schools or churches?

  • If you use Facebook or Twitter could you send a link to your friends or followers?

  • If you have school-age children could you bring it to the attention of the staff their school?

The government’s consultation has been timed to run for just 10 weeks over the summer period so it’s possible that many people may have missed it which is why it’s vital that we reach as many people as possible before it closes on 6th September.

Our campaign website  is a one-stop-shop where users can find facts about the issues, links to key resources and an online response form with some handy hints all in the same place.  We have tried to make it as user-friendly as possible.

Unlike the Department of Education website, users of Safeonline will not need to download or save responses; everything can be done quickly and easily on the site.   Users will not have to answer any questions they don’t want to and, although the Government would welcome comments, they need only tick boxes to indicate their preferences if they prefer which should take no longer than five minutes and enable everyone to have their say.

We have an excellent opportunity to send a message
right to the heart of government: please don’t miss it.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Still time to have your say on online safety



Hundreds of people have already responded to the Government’s consultation into protecting children online via our new website.

However we can’t afford to be complacent and it’s vital that we get as many people as possible to respond before the deadline of 6th September.

This is our opportunity to have our say and it could mean that we see online pornography ‘switched off’ in the UK.

If you haven’t yet responded please do take the opportunity to let the Government have your views.  Safeonline.org.uk is a one-stop-shop where you can finds facts about the issues, links to key resources and a response form with some handy hints all in the same place. 

Please don’t feel intimidated; you don’t need to answer any questions you don’t want to and, although the Government would welcome your comments, you need only tick boxes to indicate your preferences if you prefer which should take you no longer than five minutes.

If you have already responded, thank you!  Please would you consider letting your friends and associates know about the site and perhaps including a link on your Facebook or Twitter page.

The consultation has been timed to run for 10 weeks over the summer period so many people may well miss it which is why it’s vital that we reach as many people as possible before it closes on 6th September.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Protecting children online: Have your say



 The Government recently launched its consultation into how best to protect children from harmful content online.  The Government wants to know what the country thinks about this so that it can formulate a new online safety policy.

This represents an enormous opportunity for real change and we hope that people across the country will let the Government know their views on the importance of protecting the next generation.

To help you do this we have developed this website which will enable you to respond with your views quickly and easily. 

Safeonline.org.uk is a one-stop-shop website where you can find facts about the issues, links to key resources and a response form to enable you to have your say. 

The consultation closes on 6th September so it’s vital that we let as many people know about this as soon as possible. 
 
Please consider emailing it to your friends and contacts and linking to us via Facebook and Twitter.

 We have a briefing paper on the consultation for those who are not online and would like to respond.  Please contact us for a copy.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Responsible broadcasting for the 21st Century


Last week the BBC announced that the new Director General would be the current head of BBC Vision, George Entwistle.  He will take up his new role as head of the world’s largest broadcaster in the autumn.

It has been said that the BBC’s output can shape the values of a generation and, whilst this may be less true today than in the past, the corporation’s output has a huge impact on society. 

In 2009 Ofcom found that the BBC controlled 70% of national and international news on British television and the institution employs more journalists than any other in the world save for Chinese State TV.

Mr Entwistle probably has the most powerful job in British media – if not the world.

As soon as the news broke commentators and observers were quick to weigh in with what they thought Mr Entwistle’s priorities should be.  John Simpson said he would like the new Director General to improve staff morale whilst The Times counselled that he should ‘remember his job is chiefly about content’.  Lord Patten, the Chairman of the BBC’s regulatory body, the BBC Trust, said that he and Mr Entwistle believed the BBC ‘can and should be 10% or 20% better than it is’ despite the six year licence fee freeze.

George Entwistle could do worse than consider the words of the first Director General, Lord Reith, who said the role of the BBC was to ‘inform, educate and entertain.’ 

Today ‘Reithian’ is used describe certain principles of broadcasting including an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity and universality.  These are easily distinguishable from the free-market approach in which programming aims to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues, ahead of - and, in practice, often contrary to - any artistic merit, impartiality, educative or entertainment values that a programme may have.

Hqpefully George Entwistle will ponder the words of his predecessor and consider the inevitable effect that a broadcast diet of degrading behaviour models, inappropriate sexual content and graphic depictions of brutality and violence will have on society.  Wouldn’t it be a great legacy if we could look back on his tenure as Director General and see a renewed commitment to responsible broadcasting.