Right To Reply - TV 2.0 Style

Readers of this blog not resident in the UK will probably have missed the furore over the BBC's documentary about the Church of Scientology.

Whatever you think of the two organisations involved (as an agnostic involved in the internet tv world I have issues with both), it resulted in a fascinating insight into how power has shifted in the world of the television 2.0.

The BBC were clearly out to do a hatchet job - the Panorama series that this programme was part of, once de facto viewing on British TV, has descended into farce as it tries to fight against reality tv for ratings.

So, the Church of Scientology, in their usual inimitable, but intelligent, way, fought back.

They arranged for all interviews to be done in public places where they could film alongside. The very unprofessional presenter used by the BBC lost his temper when interviewing and this was all the CoS needed. They even employed the same tactics as the BBC in doorstepping the BBC themselves and demanding interviews with management. Indeed, it was a textbook deconstruction of the cliches involved in modern documentary film making (shaky cameras notwithstanding).

But the crunch was that the CoS posted their film on YouTube and mailed thousands of copies of the full documentary on DVD to opinion makers in the UK.

British journalism has long had the concept of 'right to reply', but this has always been mediated by the medium producing the content in the first place. Now, anyone can fight back. If the BBC makes a documentary about your company you don't like - make a response. or better still, film an expose about the BBC (heaven knows there's enough to complain about).