In what senses are media biased?
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University of Kent at Canterbury Faculty of Social Sciances Department of Politics and International Relations PO591 The Mass Media and British Politics Professor Colin Seymour-Ure In what senses are media biased? In what senses are media biased? The media are doubtlessly biased in one way or another. The BBC is supposed to be neutral in opinion and free of bias, but this essay will show that it also depends on audiences and their taste, and that it structures its schedule and programmes around them. Further, it will be discussed how influenced commercial television is and why, by looking at its main sponsors, namely advertisers. The print media are going to be analysed in terms of their political partiality, and their quality and biased view due to marketing pressures. Finally, this essay will briefly mention how the terrorist attack on America affected the media and advertisers. While only ten per cent of the electorate believes that the television is biased, one third is of the opinion that the newspapers are more biased. This is because television that is the BBC, in this case, is seen as public property and therefore being controlled by the government, whereas anyone can publish a newspaper.
According to Curran, the way in which TV time is sold affects the quality of audience appreciation as the quantity of audience is emphasised. Producers show the least favoured programmes in order to make the ads more appealing. This is called the "let's-give-the-public-the-programme-they-least-like-so-they'll-watch-the-ads" theory.10 This shows the inverse relationship between what people actually want and enjoy, and what the media provides them with.11 The marketing pressure leads producers to stress personal aspects of documentaries. Social problems are treated as if they were individual case studies in order to make them more appealing.12 Further, programme makers prefer genres because it minimises risk, helps to plan the budget more precisely and also helps to promote new products. Cable and satellite TV often carry programmes of one genre, which targets a specific audience. This drives specific products into the homes of a ready-made audience. Hence, certain types of viewers are addressed and particular genres are featured at specific times. Schedulers, for instance, believe that young people watch TV between five and seven in the afternoon, so ads that are supposed to be aimed at younger ones are shown at that time of the day.13 Thus, it is doubtless that commercial television too has to abide by certain rules set by market forces and their sponsors.
Single-circulation increased, as usually happens in cases like this. However, because of increased pages, extra editions and employee overtime newspapers had to cover many expenses.23 In an overall view, it has to be said that the media, indeed, is biased. It does not always have to be in the political sense or that obvious. One could argue that the bias due to advertise pressure or marketing forces is a rather hidden one. However, no matter if the media states to be bias-free or not, there is some kind of bias. Although the BBC does not have to fight for advertisers and sponsors, it has to compete in the media market and therefore structures its programmes around the audience, which, as a matter of fact, is bias. Commercial TV has to get as many people as possible in front of the television in an attempt to gain profit. In the case of CTV one could say that it is a combination of BBC's reasons for bias and the pressure of getting sponsors. The print media is definitely biased, both politically and due to market pressure. The final article in this essay was supposed to illustrate how linked the press and mostly advertisement is and how much chaos an event can cause financially; to advertisers and the media.
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