Sun, 28 Feb 2010
Once more we are into a hoo-ha about the funding of the BBC, how it has an adverse impact on the commercial sector and how we need to make it smaller. My initial reaction to those positing that argument lacks nuance: fuck you.
I do not see why it should be the case that it's part of the BBC's remit that they not have an effect on the commercial sector. Given that the arguments that the commercial sector make more or less boil down to "it's not fair" I could honestly care less, especially given that commercial media seems to me to have had a rather corrosive influence on the media.
I think what troubles me most is that so much of the criticism of the BBC is so obviously self serving. Anyone who purports to take any representative of News International's criticism of the BBC at face value is either being disingenuous or spectacularly naive. Of course life would be better for the commercial media if there was no BBC, or even a much reduced BBC. This is not the point. Everyone else would be worse off for a reduced BBC. I think there's an argument to be made that we already are thanks to the current level of scrutiny under which the BBC operates.
This is not to say that I think the BBC should be given free reign, I just think that it should be judged on the quality, and to some degree value, of it's output. By value I mean that a fundamental reason that the BBC exists is to produce the content that the commercial sector doesn't touch. If you reduce the scope of the BBC then I think you inevitable impact about it's ability to do this.
The reason for this is simple. The BBC must produce some output that is generally popular - BBC1 if you will - and any reduction in the size of the BBC will come outside this core output. Hence the current headlines about the likely imminent demise of 6 Music.
I also think there is an argument to be made for emboldening and encouraging the BBC to reach out. One could see the BBC as proving there is a market for certain types of programming and then the commercial sector with its greater ability to innovate and increased efficiencies can come along and do it better. It's mostly an argument deployed for sarcastic purposes but there's a core of truth in there.
For those unconvinced of the value of the BBC I can sum it up in two words: Radio 4. I think it's impossible for someone to spent any significant time listening to Radio 4 and not think of it as a justification for the entire license fee. One hundred and forty pounds a year is a bargain for Radio 4 alone.
posted at: 12:41 #