Aug 6th, 2009
Long live the BBC
By Toby Moses
Have you noticed that the BBC seems to be under an almost constant attack from all sides?
The steady and sustained chipping away of this great national institution continues apace. A recent report by Frank Field MP and David Rees called ‘Auntie’s Dying: Long Live Public Service Broadcasting’ made a series of criticisms, hot on the heels of the Government’s Digital Britain report, which has suggested ‘top-slicing’ the license fee to provide ‘news in the Nations, locally and in the regions’ in addition to the BBC.
But why the vilification? Is it justified?
Other media outlets are undeniably feeling the strain of the financial crisis and with the advent of digital all broadcasters, including the BBC have to adapt to a much-changed broadcasting arena.
The barrage of attacks on the BBC, from accusations of partiality to expenses to presenters’ fees to the naming of Blue Peter’s cat often tell us more about the accusers’ agenda than the quality of the BBC.
Any organisation being funded by public funds like the BBC needs to be carefully scrutinized, but the BBC is an internationally recognized public service broadcaster, with the largest broadcast news-gathering operation worldwide, and the quality and innovation that the BBC continues to produce is often forgotten.
Many of the BBC’s main accusers are also their main competition or have their own political agendas to push.
But we think there are many reasons to celebrate the BBC and thinks its time to show our support – below are our starters for 10 on why we think the BBC is great …
1. Value for money – Radio, TV, Web, all for just £142.50 a year all in compared to the satellite packages that can cost more than twice as much.
2. The World Service has over 150m listeners every week. There are correspondents nearly every country worldwide, with 44 news-gathering bureaus globally. Terry Waite credited the world Service with keeping him in touch with the world outside when he was held hostage for 5 years: ‘I listened to the BBC World Service constantly and I was enormously grateful, particularly for the fact that at the time they were broadcasting virtually 24 hours-a-day to the Middle East.’
3. Bagpuss, Grange Hill, Byker Grove – the best children’s TV is all from the BBC.
4. Dr Who: no other channel in the country offers family viewing that can match it and it’s the longest running science-fiction show in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
5. BBC News: impartial, comprehensive and restrained. In a typical week the BBC News has 10 to 15 million people viewing each of their major bulletins.
6. Local radio: with over 40 local radio stations, wherever you are in the UK there’s a station for you.
7. Blackadder, The Office, Alan Partridge, Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python, The Day Today and the list goes on and on. British comedy on the BBC that makes people laugh the world over.
8. One of the world’s most visited website in the world – providing news, blogs, video, radio. Where you can access news that is updated every minute of the day.
9. The only TV without commercial advertising, so it only serves the interests of its viewers, not advertisers.
10. The iPlayer – a nifty device that showed everyone else how TV On Demand should be done, another example of the BBC’s technical innovations.
Let us know what you think – what else should have been in our Top 10?