Words by Justine Chamberlain
The March Against Mainstream Media bias occurred in several cities across the world last weekend, including Salford.
‘Occupy the BBC’ demonstrated outside BBC Salford studios on Saturday. Visible on videos on the internet, what looks like several hundred people gathered to listen to speeches, music and to show their frustration at the BBC and other news media.
One video posted to YouTube shows placards such as ‘THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED’, ‘THE BBC IGNORES ME BECAUSE I’M A SOCIALIST’, and another ‘IF THE NEWS WON’T COME TO THE DEMO, THE DEMO WILL COME TO THE NEWS’.
Some called for former Chairman of the Conservative Party and current BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten to resign, implying a relationship between his role on the European Advisory Board of private equity firm Bridgepoint, which is buying parts of the NHS, and the BBCs non-coverage of a 50,000 strong march to save the NHS in Manchester last month. One protester held aloft ‘BBC WHITEWASH WILL GLOSS OVER NHS PRIVATISATION FOR YEARS, PRODUCED BY LORD PATTEN, MANUFACTURED BY BRIDGEPOINT’.
The aim of the Salford gathering was set out on its Facebook page, highlighting the ‘September march of 60,000 people TO SAVE THE NHS’, the underreporting of the US-EU Free Trade Agreement and the #MillionsMaskMarch.
Last month, the BBC and several other television news agencies failed to report the #MillionsMaskMarch at ‘400 locations around the world’ organised by Anonymous. Some print and online news reported the demonstrations, including The Guardian, which featured photos of some of the demonstrations around the world.
Although initially set up to highlight the bias in the media, those attending the demonstration in Salford also appeared to be against the Government and large corporations as well as the media, focussing at one point of George Osborne, with a protester saying about the economic recovery, ‘if George Osborne was a doctor, in recovery would be a dead patient’. Signs and speeches drew attention to miscarriages of justice, ‘fracking’ and the Welfare Reform Act 2012. The gathered protesters used the event to highlight what they felt was underreported.
In other protests, the placards also did not stick to the initial idea of media bias. In the USA with one placard urged passing drivers to ‘Honk to Impeach Osama/Obama”’, and another called to ‘Impeach the Marxist’. However most placards stayed close to the aims of the march. One man held a placard stating ‘NEWS Rich people paying Rich people to tell Middle Class people to blame Poor people’, a woman in Detroit held ‘Unplug the TeLIEvision’ and there were many calls to boycott the mainstream media. Fox News, CNN and NBC were some of the news corporations being targeted, with protesters outside regional offices.
The scale of the protest is difficult to judge. Several Facebook Event pages were set up to arrange events in different cities, making it difficult to estimate expected outcome, and impossible to judge the total. The main March Against Mainstream Media page has less than 20,000 likes and many of the pictures posted over the weekend show less than a hundred people at the events. However there are pictures and videos still being uploaded to the internet showing the actions of the protesters, which appears to have been successfully non-violent. So far, the protests appear to be limited to the UK and USA and no follow-up protest march is organised.