A dominant characteristic of today’s ugly Britain is our tendency to defend or revere the sentimental whilst failing to understand that our relevance as a post Imperial power demands that we do well what we can do well. By 2016 we had actually done quite well as a participant in the European project. Our language was the lingua Franca of the European Commission and European Parliament. Our commissioners were in the main respected and sound and our MEPs, the UKIP rabble aside, effective and active. We did being European quite well – so obviously we had to let a group of bigots and bozos force us to change and stop doing it.
The parallel between our European insanity and the BBC is precise. The bigots and bozos have it in their sights – of course they do. That the Corporation is the world’s greatest broadcaster is surely undeniable – it has no rivals. It’s strength is it’s ubiquity, it’s innovation and its value. Just look at what you get for 50p per household per day – its astonishing. Subscription broadcasters have their place in modern society but they don’t come cheap. I pay more to watch cricket on Sky than I do for all of the BBC’s output !
I can and do watch the BBC “Free to Air”. I need no special equipment nor cable nor satellite dish. I plug in and play. The same applies to the excellent ITV and Channel Four of course. Which brings us to the crux of the matter. ITV is funded by advertising and sponsorship as the BBC could also be. But an element of my 50p a day is to give me advertising free radio and television. Commercial interests do not call the BBC’s tune and their programming is uninterrupted. Again a unique and valuable model.
Does the Beeb do some things it would be better to leave to commercial broadcasters ? Probably. Are there things it should do but it doesn’t ? Probably again (international cricket on TV for example). Is a review called for – undoubtedly. Do we need to pay our 50p per day in a more modern and equitable way with choice to opt out? Certainly. So by all means look closely at how the BBC works – but let’s avoid vulgarising and complicating it at all costs.
We walked away from Europe despite doing it well. For heaven’s sake let’s not make the same mistake with the BBC. It’s the jewel in the crown of our media – a unique institution admired around the world for its quality. It’s not perfect and aspects of it are anachronistic – including the licence fee. But in the same way that our friends around the world look askance at our present day petty nationalism and our dysfunctional governance so they would consider us insane if we destroyed the BBC. At a time that we’ve little to be proud of as a nation let’s protect and where possible improve something of true value.