Public Service Broadcasting – non-partisan?

One of the claims PubSerBroad make for their own uniqueness, and therefore their very existence, is that they are non-partisan, objective, and politically neutral, or at least, balanced. They are not to be suspected to be partial to a certain political perspective, to ideologies or religions etc. While such criteria are difficult to fulfill, the public service media are supposed to strive for it the best they can.

Apart from having seen quite a few BBC productions over the years and decades, I do not have much experience of other countries public service media, so this post is about Sweden. I used to have respect for public service broadcasting, even if I never watched teve much. These days I do not own a teve, and I have lost a lot of my respect for the existing institutions.

One of Sweden's best known film directors, at least in Sweden, is Stefan Jarl. He has never shunned from making his films political, in a wide sense of the word. Most, but not all, of his films are documentaries. His latest film, Godheten, from 2013 is part documentary, part "fiction". The national teve corporation, SVT, has bought the right to show it, SVT is also co-producer for the film. The subject of Godheten is greed, and the increasing economic unjustices in Sweden and the world. The subject is not original, but the film is rather good, and despite the extremely saddening and angrifying subject matter, at times rather funny. I first looked in shops for the DVD, and never found a copy, despite Jarl being one of Sweden's most famous and respected directors. I finally had to order it on the web. The DVD has English subtitles. The film can also be found on Jarl's own youtube channel, but without subtitles.

However, SVT has decided that they will not show it before the elections to the Swedish Parliament, on Septemebr 14, 2014. The reason is that it is "system critic", and that would be partisan to show it. Apparently there are no films that support the present societal and economic system? No, of course not, the good guys and the bad guys are always painted in fair and non-partisan colors. Right. Should they find a film about the good banker first?

Just one of the things that public service broadcasting is not totally honest about. Furthermore, the film is not very controversial. It's not like people would be shocked hearing about greed and injustice. To try and make some comparison for an English-speaking audience, Godheten is not more controversial or system-critic than, say, Moyers and Co. Thank you, SVT, for treating us as children. Us, the public.

Apparently non-partisanery is difficult for BBC, too.

3 Comments

    • Sorry, premature commentification there!… but I view medialens as offering a distorted view on other distorted views, not a correction. If anything, I’ve found Salmond and his Scottish National Party to be treated very leniently by the mainstream media in recent years. The BBC is part of the British and Scottish establishment and so I wouldn’t expect objectivity from it, nor in fact, any single news agency.

      • I guess throwing in that link to medialens without dealing with its greater context was a bit sloppy of me. :-S

        I agree there is no single agency that is objective. It is just that the PubSerBroads of the world claim they are. Or at least that they are on the whole non-partisan. When they fail that, they really have no claim for existence. Not that the traditional commercial teve or radio would be better. But the public service media are not that special they paint themselves to be. The are not very “non-commercial” either, another of their usual claims.

        Imho, they are often just another instance of the muddling of the public and the private/commercial sectors.

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