Table of Contents
2.0 How does the BBC work?
3.0 How does Fox News work?
4.0 The BBC and Fox News portrayal of the Iranian Election
4.1 The News Headline
4.2 Hossein Mousavi
4.3 Ahmedinejad (the current government)
7.0 Appendix 1 (Fox News):
8.0 Appendix 2 (the BBC):
The question as to whether the ruling class or the bourgeoisie, who own material resources, is the basis for controlling people and thus instilling a dominant ideology has been widely contested by many scholars. According to Murdock (1982), the two vital reasons behind abating the power of the ruling class are the growth of professional managers, who run the corporations, and the appearance of a new capital enterprise. As the development of the industrial production expands, the need of professional workers, who are equipped with knowledge and expertise, is on the increase. That gives rise to increasing the influence of the professional managers in the industry and thus constituting a threat to the freedom of the owners as they supplant them. Other critics like Seaton and Pimlott (1997) challenge the claim that mass media are only subservient “servants” to the ruling class as thought by Marx. They argue that this representation overlooks the ability of journalists to counteract the intervention of the owners. The structuralists also assume that owners cannot possibly control the operations of media and intervene the editorial content as they are run on a daily basis. They point out that those who work in the media have control over the output of the media, but they have to work within the bounds of an economic sphere. The liberal-pluralist approach asserts that the content and form of the media are mainly determined by the choice of the consumers, not by the actions of the owners. In addition, it argues that Marxists fall short of making a clear-cut distinction between private and publically owned media. Therefore, Marxism does not work hand in hand with all kinds of media (Williams, 2003).
However, these arguments depict opposing positions towards the equation that Marx sketches “Having money means controlling the public and constructing a dominant ideology.” This is not always the case in the media. Currently, many media corporations whether independent or financially dependent do create a dominant ideology, but this does not necessarily mean that the dominant ideology has to be created only by those who have the fiscal means. To explore the extent to which this statement is valid, this essay will first shed light on how the two globally known news corporations (the BBC and Fox news channel) function. Then, a comparison and contrast will be drawn to see if each one of them plays a role in constructing a dominant ideology in the recent Iranian Election.
2.0 How does the BBC work?
The British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC) is the largest public broadcasting corporation in the world. It was established in October 1992 by a Royal Charter in which it recognises its editorial independence from any influence whether private or governmental and sets out its public obligations in detail. It does not get its funds directly from a specific body; instead, it is funded by television licence fees in which the UK households pay around £139.50 annually. That money is allocated to provide broadcasting services to the public including 8 national TV channels plus regional programming, 10 national radio stations, 40 local radio stations and an extensive website. The mission of the BBC is to “inform, educate and entertain” the audience. In addition, the BBC is governed by the BBC Trust, which sets the strategic direction of the BBC and has a clear duty to satisfy the interests of licence fee payers. The aims of the Trust are to make sure that the BBC remains independent, resisting pressure and influence from any source, its management delivers public value by providing distinctive services of the highest quality to all the people and all the communities across the United Kingdom and it contributes to the standing of the United Kingdom in the world, to the economy and to British culture (BBC, 2009).
The laws and regulations which make the BBC an autonomous broadcasting corporation indicate that its philosophy does not seem to adhere to Marxism through which a ruling class exercises its influence to control over the individuals. It appears that the source of finance to the BBC does not come from one particular person; the households who subscribe to the services of the corporation are the main source for its existence. This approach is akin to Pluralism in its view that the readers and listeners are not merely passive or submissive to the media. Instead, everyone has a voice and therefore able to play a tangible role in affecting the media (Williams, 2003).
3.0 How does Fox News work?
Fox News Channel (FNC) is 24-hour American cable news and channel that is owned by the Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch. He also owns the Twentieth Century Fox studio, Fox Entertainment Group, Fox Network, 35 TV stations and 19 regional channels in America. Unlike the BBC which is a long-established corporation, FNC was recently launched in January 1996. Although advertisements and subscribers play a role in financing the channel, the great part of its fund comes personally from Murdoch. When the channel was first operated, Murdock gave the cable operators $11 per subscriber to launch the channel, which looks unconventional to the norms of the media industry (Richard, 1996).
It is noticeable that Fox News and the BBC function differently. While the BBC gets its fund from its viewers, the sheer amount of money that Fox News gets is from Murdoch. This has raised many questions about whether Murdoch has an influence in manipulating the news and thus affecting its state of objectivity. In recent years, the channel has been subjected to skepticisms by Democrats and liberals. FNC has been accused of having a conservative bias (Memmott, 2004). Another example of criticism against Fox News is that the Guardian criticized it in the war of Iraq since Murdoch gave “his full backing to war, praising George Bush as acting ‘morally’ and ‘correctly.’” Additionally, he said before the invasion, “We can’t back now_ I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly.” The New Yorker also reported that the cousin of Bush, John Ellis, tilted the election in favor of Bush as, on the day of the election, he spent hours conversing with George W. and Jeb Bush about the election (Center for American Progress, 2004).
Based on the way Fox News is shown as a biased channel that perfectly complies with the influence of its owner, it is more likely to endorse Marxism than pluralism. In other words, this suggests that Fox News is able to create an ideological perspective or “false consciousness” in the viewers to serve the political or social goals of Murdoch.