There’s some fascinating fallout from the role-playing game at the Edinburgh Television Festival, which asked our major broadcasters how they would handle a live hostage situation. Basically, the channels were asked if they’d show live pictures: Sky said yes, the BBC said yes but with a ‘significant’ delay. The conclusion: the hostage was killed, because the kidnappers had seen that they were about to get stormed.
In the end we were shown a clip of a dead hostage. He’d been killed because the kidnappers had access to television, and had been tipped off by broadcasters other than the BBC that the building was about to be stormed.
Writing on the BBC Editors blog, Craig does a fair job of justifying his decisions in the game; but inevitably it’s an artificial situation, and one wonders how the Beeb could remain on the moral high ground if Sky (plus presumably Fox), Al Jazeera, and (I guess) CNN were showing live pictures.
The ensuing debate makes for interesting reading. Should the BBC (and others) obey requests for a media blackout? And how does that square with the BBC-bashers who continue to accuse the corporation of left-wing bias? Should we expect higher standards of the BBC as a public sector organisation? But how could they resist competitive pressure? For all the idealistic statements, I bet they’d go live as soon as they felt it was justifiable.