Re: A measureable improvement
You make the mistake of thinking that the publisher is more important than the reader.
15 posts • joined 3 Jun 2011
Has anyone actually looked in detail at the way Bailey plays with surveys to press his agenda? It would be highly amusing, were it not so worrying (given that this report comes with the threat of state coercion to impose Bailey's views and agenda on the UK).
For example, at the top of page 26, Bailey asserts that "40 per cent of parents in the omnibus survey for the Review said they had seen things in public places (e.g. shop window displays, advertising hoardings) that they felt were unsuitable or inappropriate for children". There are several serious issues here: one is the taking of the negative minority, rather than the 60% - a much larger percentage than that with which the Tories won the election! - who evidently didn't report seeing such things; a second is the failure to define "had seen" (does this mean many things on a regular basis, or one or two things in the whole three month period concerned?); and a third is the failure to define degrees: what one parent might think unsuitable or inappropriate to children might not bother another at all, these varied parents might have very different views on what if any remedial action is appropriate, and lumping all these personal views into one conclusion is not exactly a shining example of intellectual rigour.
A more serious problem is with the Ofcom figures (pages 29-30). Bailey reports what Ofcom found in 2010: 74% (an increase from 2009) of respondents felt the watershed was at the right time (and only 9% that it should be eariler); and 72% believe the level of regulation is about right. But he ignores these overwhelming majorities, and advances the minority position, saying that "the fact that some parents report otherwise should cause broadcasters concern". If the goal is to eliminate all disagreement, then the goal is impossible (and undesirable in a free society based on personal and parental responsibility). So, Bailey ignores those who are not "parents", ignores the overwhelming majority who are happy with the timing and regulation of the watershed, ignores - indeed fails to mention - the percentage (a minority, but one that adds to the weight against his view) who will think there is too much regulation or the watershed is too restrictive, and presents an ideologically driven view based on his own preconceptions. He buttresses this with highlighted quotes in larger type from individuals at the top of page 29, while placing the figures reflecting mass opinion in smaller type at the bottom. He reports (page 30) BBC findings from 2009 that "50 per cent said they ‘personally see or hear things on television which you find offensive’" and "40 per cent of the audience reported they had seen or heard something on TV in the last 12 months that they felt should not have been broadcast". Yet he fails to acknowledge that these figures do not support his conclusions. Personal offence COULD be aligned with what he and his imagined "parents" find "offensive"; however, a reasonable person could also find "offensive" a diet show focussing on an individual's eating habits (or their faeces as in the case of some famous examples!), a parenting show displaying a child's behaviour, a politician's statement about immigrants or people on benefits, or a religious figure's assertions about sexuality or the place of women, or whatever. Personal offence or discomfort could be great or minor, could be frequent or very occasional, could make the offended person think the programme should be banned or merely make them switch channel for something less offensive to them personally. Personal offence is as varied as are people themselves, and again, to lump together all these varieties as if they were monolithic support for his own view is reflective of Bailey's predetermined agenda, rather than an objective, evidence-based report.
Worse still is Bailey's refusal to engage in definitions. If one does not make clear what one means to talk about, and what one means by "sexualized", "offensive", or "inappropriate", then one is essentially waving one's hand and waffling. If there is the threat, or worse the promise, of legislation, that it is imperative that definitions be clear and comprehensively. Otherwise, the public is at the mercy of vague laws that it would be impossible to obey.
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