Monday, 31 August 2009

The BBC is too awesome for cake

...and I like cake. I'm not going to attempt to be coherent or tackle all of the issues, that would take an essay and this is just a midiblogsplurge.

Anyone who claims that the BBC is an extension of the state has (a) not understood the structure of the organisation and (b) never listened critically to it's output.

The BBC aims to be politically impartial. My impression is that it holds those with power (or "in power") under more scrutiny than other parties, individuals or organisations, which is the way it should be. BBC interviews are the toughest, since it is the most respected forum of public political debate and so does not need to court interviewees with favourable treatment.

For those who worry about the dangers of so much power in a single organisation, the governance of the BBC is set up specifically to counter any such dangers. It has a mission to benefit it's viewers. It is not working in the interests of profit or of any individual or organisation.

Seriously, it's great idea to keep an eye on the BBC and hold it firmly to account but to-date the concerns have been pretty minor. The BBC is really a beacon of virtue in a world of quite scary media organisations. It is set up with a public service mission and that's what it does; what am I supposed to be scared of?

Anyone who complains that it is unfair that the BBC is funded by the licence fee. We aren't handing out cake at a birthday party! Why should it be "fair"? What matters is that we have a healthy broadcast media. I might be concerned if the BBC made it impossible for any other broadcasters to operate but I don't see any reason why all broadcasters must operate under the same set of conditions. BBC is different to ITV and Five which are different again from Channel 4. For all the griping the UK has a very healthy and creative TV and radio ecosystem.

Finally the output of the BBC is tremendous. I doubt any other organisation could have created The Blue Planet. That is just one example of the many cultural masterpieces the organisation has and will continue to create. The BBC sponsors musicians and cultural events and development of all kinds. It is free to criticise itself and often does. Since the BBC is not "working for the BBC" there is no hesitation in broadcasting criticism of the BBC on the BBC, whether that be in the news, discussion programmes, in the Feedback programme on radio 4 or in the form of incidental content on other programmes such as comedy programmes mocking BBC output or organisation.

I must stop there, I could go on indefinitely if I allowed myself to enumerate all of the great stuff the BBC produces.

2 comments:

Mike Arthur said...

Great post, I totally agree with all of the above.

You were right about what I was tweeting about (http://bit.ly/19V9i), it really annoys me that the BBC is somehow seen as "bad" just because it's a publicly-funded entity. If anything they attack the government too often (although I'm not saying this).

People like Murdoch should just admit "I want more money" rather than pretending it's in ANY way about the public good.

ANALOGUE ISLAND said...

Also agree completely.

The BBC is a wonderfully independent body, with a unique and precious funding model. It is a vestige, a remnant, of a societal model that served this country well. Unfortunately it is under attack from the foolish greed barons, both in the commercial sector and within the UK government.

We have already lost the municipal and civic society, replaced by privately run entities whose prime purpose is to serve their shareholders, and with it much of the glue that held together and guided large sections of British society together has gone.

Dependent on the agenda and the politics of the time, the Beeb has been accused of being either an organ of the state or a deliberately subversive, antidemocratic and dangerous force.