Ken Loach just exposed how TV broadcasters make people obey power, leaving the BBC red-faced

Support us and go ad-free

Award-winning TV and film director Ken Loach has shown how TV broadcasters make people obey power, leaving the BBC flustered.

Loach broke new ground with his ongoing critique of the mainstream media. He called out the soft-propaganda of TV shows that turn viewers into passive consumers in an interview with Radio Times.


The BBC featured prominently in Loach’s scathing critique. Having previously called out the public service broadcaster for its demonstrable bias against Jeremy Corbyn, the director suggested the BBC’s ‘free market’ capitalist output must be deliberate:

The BBC is very aware of its role in shaping people’s consciousness; this is the story you should hear about, these are the people worth listening to. It’s manipulative and deeply political.

In response, the BBC did not provide any evidence to the contrary. It merely cited the opinions of people, many of whom look to the BBC to provide them with news:

The BBC is consistently rated the most trusted and accurate news provider by the majority of people in the UK.

Perhaps because the evidence appears to be stacked on Loach’s side. A series of studies support his conclusions, representing a consensus that the BBC has pro-Conservative bias.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free


Speaking about broadcasters as a whole, the renowned director compared TV dramas to taking a hypnotic sedative:

You might as well take a Mogadon as watch it. TV drama is like the picture on the Quality Street tin, but with less quality and nothing of the street.

Loach, who has a long record of challenging social injustice, then took aim specifically at the current crop of TV period dramas:

This rosy vision of the past, it’s a choice broadcasters make.

For Loach, it appears period dramas are closer to a whitewash than to a historic account of the Western colonialism that has shaped the world as it is today:

It’s bad history, bad drama. It puts your brain to sleep. It’s the opposite of what a good broadcaster should do, which is stimulate and invigorate.

But the crux of Loach’s point seems to be the impact such visions of the past have on viewers:

It says, ‘Don’t bother your heads with what’s going on now, just wallow in fake nostalgia’.

He argues that TV broadcasters are not encouraging people to take an active role in society but to stay in the passenger seat, observing and consuming.

Mainstream media indoctrination

For the veteran director, the soft-propaganda of TV shows contributes to the full-scale propaganda of the mainstream media’s political and news output. At a Media Reform Coalition (MRC) event in late September, Loach noted the regularity of television news channels having guests on who “will attack Jeremy Corbyn”. However, he claimed, the manipulation is also evident in the way “they put stories together” so that:

there is almost a collage of words, and ideas, and questions, that together transmit the point of view they want you to have.

As The Canary previously reported, Loach used the recent Labour leadership challenge against Corbyn to illustrate his points:

He drew attention to Corbyn’s NHS press conference on 24 August. The Labour leader pledged numerous important changes to the health service, such as a promise to renationalise the NHS. But coverage of these promises was scant, with most media attention given to the fact that a reporter asked a question about Traingate during the conference.

In his previous critiques of the media, Loach has focused on the hard-propaganda of how stories are presented in order to preserve wealth and power. Now, he’s turned his attention to seemingly nonpolitical TV shows. In fact, they have a very real, political impact on the public. Viewers of TV dramas, for example, are often encouraged to indulge in “fake nostalgia” through a rose-tinted vision of the past. They are not properly informed or energised to get involved.

To solve this crisis, Loach called for the “democratisation” of the BBC. Instead of a dark, distant room of editorial commissioners selecting what shows get made, people could vote on how their money is spent. Fundamental changes like these would help shift the BBC away from being what Loach calls a “propaganda arm of the state”.

Get Involved!

– Check out the Media Reform Coalition.

– Write to your MP, asking their view on media monopolies.

– Support the work of new media organisations here. Please add more that you like in the comments.

The Canary

Media Diversified

Novara Media

Corporate Watch

Common Space

Media Lens

Bella Caledonia

Vox Political

Evolve Politics

Real Media

Reel News

STRIKE! magazine

The Bristol Cable

Manchester Mule

Salford Star

Featured image via Wikimedia and iplayer screenshot

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed