The BBC blew it in its Panorama episode titled Who Wants To Be a Bitcoin Millionaire?
Here was an excellent opportunity for Britain’s most watched mainstream broadcaster to introduce cryptocurrencies to a wider audience. A good documentary would have introduced concepts, shown usage and pointed out pitfalls along the way.
The show wanted to achieve this, but managed to fall flat on its face.
BBC: Bitcoin isn’t real money
It its opening minutes, the documentary set out its stall with the following line: “At least we know what money is and how money works.”
And there you had it: the show obviously didn’t consider cryptocurrencies as currencies. Note to Aunty Beeb: The clue is in the name.
In its promotional teasers, Panorama stated baldly: “Bitcoin is the world’s leading virtual currency, but unlike real money, it is not backed by a government or properly regulated.” It was more proof that the show was never going to take cryptocurrencies seriously.
Some descriptions were certainly reasonable. A dumbed-down skit showing the difference between paying with a card and cryptocurrency worked well.
But there were also hilarious references to 10-year old Bitcoin being “new” dotted throughout the show. It’s not even the first time the BBC has covered Bitcoin. It has done so many times, including Craig Wright’s “I am Satoshi Nakamoto” debacle in 2016, which had the BBC as a central player.
Try Harder, BBC
It’s hardly hard-hitting investigative journalism to “reveal” this in 2018. It’s surprising Panorama didn’t cover more recent schemes like Davorcoin or even the already old-news but bigger Bitconnect scandal.
It’s perhaps an indictment of television documentaries as a whole that if the best they can offer are a winning combination of inaccuracies, hyperbole and investigations into two-year old scams, then no wonder people are turning off.
When a good mainstream introduction to cryptocurrencies comes along, we’ll be sure to write about it.