Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Kill the BBC: Part two

No I don’t want to kill the BBC, it was an involuntary shudder when the reaction three years ago to removing the RPI link to the license fee was “disappointing” from the director-general, and “catastrophic” from the unions; this despite a guaranteed increase in the fee for the following six years - you can always trust the unions for a balanced response. I find the left-wing bias tiresome but I recognise it as an inevitable result for any publicly funded body immune from economic reality. It’s not dissimilar to the media studies teacher who despises your middle class background safe in the knowledge that before too long you’ll be paying his wages.

The problem for the BBC is that its popular programming could just as easily be shown by other broadcasters, and this invites the query as to why the remainder should be funded by the taxpayer at all. Once you list all the quality television produced elsewhere and the not so good from the state broadcaster you begin to realise that its only real purpose is as a mechanism for Government initiatives, such as the digital switchover, and to act as a counterweight to the excesses of Sky and ITV. This doesn’t require a £3 billion budget.

I like the BBC, but our assessment should be based not on whether we like what we watch, but on whether it is right for others to pay. When good, it innovates, leading the way for the commercial sector to follow. It still provides valuable public service broadcasting and it has a role as a standard-bearer for British television, but it has become bloated, stifling private enterprise operating in the same sphere and yes, that is a bad thing. You’d have to be “immune from economic reality” to think otherwise.

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