Leave the BBC alone

According to The Times, the BBC is to undertake a process of cutbacks in a move to re-size and surrender ground to commercial competitors. Apparently there will be a renewed focus on “quality over quantity”, yet the axe will fall most notably on BBC 6 Music (a minority-interest digital radio station run on a shoestring) while Radio 1 will remain largely untouched. Talk about inconsistent. Also due for the chop is Asian Network (again a digital radio station servicing a niche audience) and the website will see substantial cutbacks in content and staff. This is no doubt the first step in a series of reforms that we can expect in the coming years (although possibly subject to who wins the election) to change the shape, scope and size of our national broadcaster.

It goes without saying that the BBC is a national treasure and we would be immensely poorer without it. Meanwhile, the voices that clamour the most for the scrapping or restructuring of the licence fee are the very same voices that would benefit most from doing so: the Murdoch press and media empire, the Daily Mail, commercial television and radio stations. The enemies of all that is good, in other words.

Do not listen to a word they say. The TV licence fee represents extraordinary value for money. For £142.50 a year (or 39p a day. 39p!!!) we get a uniquely comprehensive suite of television, radio and internet coverage. I would pay double this amount for Radio 4, Radio 5 and the website alone. In no other aspect of our lives do we get so much for such little expenditure. Yet there are those who would have us believe that this cost is extortionate. Lies! We get the best news service in the world (this is beyond argument and don’t start yammering on about BBC ‘bias’ either – if anything the BBC is too impartial), innovative and intelligent radio, ground-breaking natural history programmes, first class comedy, drama and the amazing BBC website for less than the cost of a pint of milk. To be sure, the BBC also produces an awful lot of dross: EastEnders, Casualty, Top Gear, Radio 1, dreadful period dramas, etc, but they’re catering for a lot of different tastes. Personally I’d rather eat my own teeth than watch or listen to any of the aforementioned, but that’s just me.

You want to imagine life without the BBC? You’ll have an extra 39p a day at your disposal. What would you do with yours? Perhaps you could buy 39% of an issue of The Daily Telegraph? Television shows would be almost exclusively cheap, tawdry and aimed at the lowest common denominator (in other words, ITV). And the radio? Music will be provided by Absolute, Heart and Capital and if you want something more hard hitting and topical, well, there’s always LBC.

George Orwell couldn’t have come up with a more dystopian vision of the future for this country.

The BBC is one of the very few things that this country can still be very proud of, one that is internationally known for its quality of broadcasting. We tamper with this formula at our peril. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best there is. Now leave it alone.

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Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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3 comments on “Leave the BBC alone
  1. cogitata says:

    Hear hear. It still ceases to amaze me that people continue to defend the market when it has so abjectly failed to deliver. From rail monopolies that have led to huge fare rises, to commercial radio that has served the industry in its relentless drive towards inoffensive mass appeal dross in all genres, the market efficiently removes choice and erases difference, whilst at the same time cloaking itself in the sheen of those two very qualities."A comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom prevails in advanced industrial civilisation, a token of technical progress. Indeed, what could be more rational than the suppression of individuality in the mechanisation of socially necessary but painful performances; the concentration of individual enterprises in more effective, more productive corporations; the regulation of free competition among unequally equipped economic subjects; the curtailment of prerogatives and national sovereignties which impede the international organisation of resources." Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man

  2. Philip says:

    The BBC has a major and unforgivable flaw, in that it uses public money to push its own agenda. This is to make sure that the country is run in a way that the BBC finds acceptable, and that the only way of life that one can live and that is one that the BBC deems acceptable. As the Levellers said "There is only one way of life and that one sanctioned by the BBC". The BBC needs to be given a damn good clean out and replaced by an organization that s far less intrusive into the life of Britain. The BBC today has the same control on British society that the Catholic church had on the Irish in the 1950's (apart from the kiddy fiddling)

  3. Citizen Sane says:

    You see, for me, the BBC is all about quality broadcasting made for the sake of broadcasting, not simply to make me a captive audience for advertisements every fifteen minutes. And I don't think it is possible to put a value on that. The BBC truly is a wonderful thing. The thought of sacrificing everything the BBC gives us to benefit Sky or ITV is just nauseating.The BBC doesn't "intrude" into my life at all. I pick the bits I want and discard the rest. And we get it for peanuts.

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