I see the BBC is hitting the news again with the revelations about what the corporation pays its ‘stars’. The baying anti-Auntie mob has been roused. You’ll not be surprised to learn that I have a view. Or that it may not be generally applauded. What follows is just a few thoughts I came up with when responding to a friend on Facebook. As opposed to a Facebook friend. Although he’s both. It’s complicated. Anyway…
The BBC is more than just a provider of programming. It is a model for public service broadcasting based on, among other things, the principle of universality. The idea of equal access to public services regardless of ability to pay is fundamental to my politics. It’s a socialist thing. But I make no apology for that.
It also acts as a ‘soft-touch’ regulator of the wider broadcasting market. The fact that the likes of Sky have to compete with the BBC forces them in directions they wouldn’t otherwise go if they were merely following the market.
It’s a baby/bathwater situation. But, these days, I’m pretty much resigned to the demise of the BBC It looks very much as if the mob mentality will prevail. The transnational media corporations have quite cleverly co-opted people who would indignantly deny they were aiding and abetting those corporations’ efforts to seize even greater control of the media.
I’m also resigned to the cacophony of hypocritical whining that will ensue when the consequences become apparent. But there will be no way to get that baby back. There really is no way an institution such as the BBC could be created from scratch in today’s world. The same forces that are now striving to bring it down, would never allow it to be built.
Imagine trying to create a public health service from the ground up in the early years of the 21st century. It’s just not going to happen. Which is why those of us who truly believe in the concept of universal health care, free at the point of need fight so hard to preserve NHS Scotland.
I’m not saying the BBC is as important as the health service. But a healthy society is defined by more than just the physical health of individuals. A healthy society is also defined by the principles to which it adheres. And the fundamental principle of universality is the same whether we’re talking about health care, education, mail or broadcast services.
I dislike intensely what the BBC as an organisation has become. Particularly in relation to what is arguably its most significant function of news gathering and dissemination. The BBC’s news and current affairs operations have become a sick joke. If we could harness the energy of John Reith spinning in his grave then we would be able to shut down every polluting power station in the UK. But I continue to be absolutely persuaded that the BBC, as an institution, is worth saving from the depredations of incompetent management; interfering government; avaricious corporations; and the unthinking mob that is being manipulated by all of these.
It’s a thin-end-of-wedge situation. If we are not prepared to defend the principle of universality across the piece then we let the corrosion take hold.
It’s a taking-a-stand situation. Instead of insisting on the destruction of the BBC, we should be demanding that it be restored to what it is supposed to be. To what it is at an institutional level. And if the UK won’t do that then Scotland should.Views: 4340
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