The automobile show TopGear is the BBC ‘s most successful production and will cease, after 13 years in its current form. TopGear itself has been around since the seventies, moderated by Jeremy Clarkson. He is exactly the reason for the BBC dropping the show. His politically incorrect statements and a certain penchant for violence have finally become too much for the producers.
Soon after TopGear was dropped in March, Clarkson announced that this doesn’t mean the end of the show, that we’d be seeing it on Netflix or somewhere else soon. It was clear what direction things would take – not only broadcasters, but new kinds of media producers were obviously interested. The fact that classic broadcasters have competition from the internet is nothing new – since youtube at the latest.
Shortly after, Amazon announced that they would continue the humorous automobile show on their own platform.
Which raises the moral question.
New media without a moral code
Amazon – isn’t that the company oriented towards absolute efficiency, in which robots are seen as a viable alternative to human staff? Wasn’t it just last week that there were accusations that Amazon push their staff to the point of a burn out? As we all know, the same company now also produces shows.
Broadcasters, especially public broadcaster like the BBC, have dedicated supervisory bodies. Who oversees Amazon? Is there any kind of moral code here?
The TopGear case clearly shows that we need to start thinking about where media content comes from and the conditions under which it’s created again.
Who at Amazon cares if Clarkson is a tyrant?
Of course, that fact that TopGear will continue is sensational for its fans. Never the less, the BBC takes responsibility for what it broadcasts and took on the consequences here.
The press has said that the BBC miscalculated here and regret the decision. From a financial perspective this is certainly the case. But there is another factor in the decision. Like all public broadcasters, the BBC is subject to certain principles. Because they are mainly financed by the tax payer, they’re content has to be characterised by distance from the State and less commercial interest. The media takes on a gatekeeper function and is required to offer the public a minimum level of information and diversity.
In this case, the BBC refused to continue working with, and providing a platform for, the TopGear host known for his violent verbal and non-verbal outbreaks.
But who cares at Amazon? Why should they stop a show, which is evidently successful, for these kinds of reasons?
Fired from the BBC, giant budget at Amazon
Because the brand name TopGear still belongs to the BBC, the show will continue with a different name and new concept in 2016. With a budget of 250 million Euros, Clarkson, Hammond and May should be able to pull out all the stops.
The question remains: will we have to do without the democratic supervisory licenses which exist for classic media in the future and let the viewer decide what is broadcast. Who takes on the moral responsibility when trading platforms produce media content?
What’s right? Viewers have to decide for themselves
The question of whether or not it was right to give Clarkson a new show will certainly not be the last of its kind. As things currently stand, these judgements will be passed on to the viewers.
Companies like Amazon and Netflix, with their mechanised logic and cost-benefit analysis, have it too easy. Those who produce media should be responsible for more than just its success.