Transparency

Society adopts good concepts from time to time but usually does so in an abusive way. The concept of equality is a good concept but should not be adopted at the expense of treating someone in accordance with their worth. The concept of democracy is a good concept, but should not be abused by using democratic means to oppress the minority. The latest good concept that is now being abused is the concept of transparency.

We hear a lot about transparency. Politicians do thing or say things are in the interests of transparency, and folk are now having to expose more and more of their private affairs in the interests of transparency. But transparency is not an unconditional virtue. In circumstances where public money is being spent, for example, transparency is important; if our money is gathered from us due to taxation then it is the right of every tax payer to know how every last penny of that money has been spent.

Journalists use transparency as a justification for their actions but journalists are very bad at being transparent themselves. They tend to be the biggest users of libel proceedings in the courts and significant users of gagging orders from the courts, as Andrew Marr has shown. Of course, when he was caught using a gaging order he regretted his lack of judgment. In fact is judgment was to shield himself from transparency, possibly for justifiable reasons because what he wanted to shield was really not the business of the public.

Mr Marr’s employer is the BBC. It collects more than £3.5 billion each year from a compulsory licence fee payable by each household in the United Kingdom that wants to use television. Although the licence fee is not a tax, technically, it looks like a tax, it is enforced by the same 9or more drastic means) that tax is usually enforced and whatever the technicalities it should be treated as a tax on those who want to watch TV, whether they want to watch the BBC’s version of it or not.

Yet for the beneficiaries of this quasi tax, the BBC is very shy about publishing details figures. Such as we learn about usually only come to our notice as a result of leaks, whistle blowers or national audit office work. It seems that transparency is what is required by the BBC when it comes to others, but not what it is required to be.

The BBC has about 47% of the market share of news coverage in the United Kingdom.

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