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Mis-Communicator of the Week: The BBC

23rd April 2013

Two weeks ago I made the late Margaret Thatcher my Communicator of the Week. Her use of modern communication methods to get her message across was ground-breaking in its day. Her legacy, in how politics is communicated, is still felt in Westminster and in the way politics is conducted over 20 years since she left Downing Street. It is therefore rather ironic that this week's Mis-Communicator has ignored the reality of the modern world when dealing with a row involving Margaret Thatcher. 

Despite the often reported belief that Lady Thatcher was divisive figure in British society, she was immensely kind in private to friend and foe alike in times of hardship or grief. This makes the reaction by some to celebrate her death disappointing and disrespectful but, in a free society where free speech is a key part of our unwritten constitution, acceptable. Indeed former colleagues said she wouldn't have minded.

Why then did the BBC get in such a pickle over whether or not to play Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead from The Wizard of Oz? It added the oxygen of publicity to the campaign to get this song to number one in the music chart helping the Thatcher haters and annoying the Thatcher supporters. Others, including myself, couldn't fathom how out of date a decision to ban a song is. The reality of the modern media world – of which the BBC is a big player – is that whatever content we desire is available to us all as long as we have a smartphone and internet connection.   

The decision taken by the BBC must have been based on preserving good taste which is admirable but ended up curtailing free speech which Mrs Thatcher fought so hard to guarantee in the former Soviet Bloc. When everyone is empowered today by social media, global connectivity and choice of what we can listen to, watch or read unfathomable even ten years ago this decision of censorship by the BBC seems utterly archaic. This is why the BBC is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.  

Written by Edward Staite, founder of Staite Communications

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