Back in 2004, I added the image on the right to the sidebar of this blog, as part of the I Believe in The BBC campaign against Rupert Murdoch and the claims by his Fox News network in the USA in light of the Hutton Report. I’m seriously considering putting it back there again.
This week was the BBC’s 90th birthday, which should have been a cause for celebration. Whilst it was marked with a broadcast by Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, this was more muted than it could have been. Last week saw the Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, resign after a mere two months on the job, over editorial issues with Newsnight, one of its flagship news programmes. Last year, the show was blocked from broadcasting a report into the recently deceased BBC presenter and celebrity Jimmy Saville, claiming that he had sexually abused children over many years, including those in hospitals – police are now investigating this and believe there could have been as many as 300 victims. And more recently the show broadcast a report stating that a former government minister had abused children at a North Wales care home. Although it stopped short of naming the person in question, subsequent posts on various web sites and social media channels resulted in this person being identified, even though he was not involved.
Every time the BBC makes a big mistake like this, there is a witch hunt against it. Because it is funded by the license fee (essentially a tax that anyone who watches live TV in the UK must pay) it is less susceptible to commercial pressures, and this upsets many of its commercial rivals who feel it has an unfair advantage. However, the license fee ensures that we have a public service broadcaster that isn’t reliant on donations, doesn’t need to carry advertising and product placement and isn’t influenced by the state. It’s a special thing that could be all too easily dismantled if the political will is there, and if it goes we may never see another organisation like it.
I’ve included the video for Mitch Benn’s ‘I’m Proud of The BBC’ above – although Mitch does some work for the BBC, this song was not related to that, but, like me, a deep affection for what the corporation does. Have a listen to remind yourself of all the shows it has made, and people who have worked with it.
The BBC is special, and part of our heritage and culture. We must believe in it, and ensure that it’s around for another 90 years.