Saturday, 1 November 2008

Step back from barracking the BBC

Increasingly the hysteria about the Ross/Brand incident seems to be used as a rod to beat up on the BBC generally. However you feel about the way the two Radio 2 DJs behaved and I think Stuart White expressed thoughts on this extremely well on this blog, the general uproar should not be used as a cover to shake a stick at the BBC and start a campaign to reduce its license fee.
Most often we fail to recognise what an excellent thing it is to be able to watch an hour of excellent drama without constant mind-numbing stops for adverts, or to be able to see documentaries or news programmes with proper investigation involved.
Commercial television can rarely justify the budget for any programme that doesn't deliver the cash. That can lead to a lowest common denominator style of programming; an all day breakfast of reality shows and CSI.
Few countries are lucky to have quality television programming of the type that the BBC delivers. Try going abroad and watching TV and you quickly find out.
After a recent trip to the US, I knew I was home when I switched on the radio and managed to listen to three amazing BBC programmes in a row, that made me think about issues I didn't I cared about.
The Daily Mail among others loves to beat up the BBC about wasting taxpayers money, but as taxpayers let's recognise all the good quality programmes we do get from that license fee.


Stuart White said...

Rachael, I entirely agree. I think it is vital to the health of a democracy that we have a broadcast media that is not purely market-driven - a media that seeks to raise the level of public information and discussion and not just reflect back a common denominator of existing preferences. The BBC plays an invaluable role in raising standards in this country. Given the volume of output it produces, its amazing that so few errors like the Ross/Brand one happen. When one weighs this error against all the huge amount of high quality BBC broadcasting, it is insignificant, and it is utterly cynical of the Daily Mail to present this episode as if it is typical - though entirely in keeping with the way the right-wing press treat other public services like the NHS.

While we're at it, lets not beat up too much on Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand either. Sure, they made a mistake. But they've apologised and that should be an end of the matter.

Mil said...

I think the BBC's importance lies just as much in its ability to pull other media round to holding a more centrist stance (both in current affairs as well as in culture) as it does in its output as such. Sky is not anything like Fox News, but it surely would be if it were not for the BBC. I also think that in a digital age, where content will be delivered in increasingly fragmented ways, we need, as a nation and a multi-threaded society, something like the BBC to experiment on our behalf with the impact of all these new technologies, in what I am sure will be a generally benevolent way.

Crowqueen said...

I speak as a Tory voter who crossed the floor from Labour in 2004 but am seriously considering changing back (if not as an activist then as a voter) because of David "Mr Fox" Cameron's disgusting show of hypocrisy in today's Sun regarding the BBC. Although I am not sure I trusted the BBC under Blair (particularly since the outcome of the Hutton Report), I do think that the Tories are only now complaining of bias because their poll bubble has burst and they are finding it hard to get their miniscule amounts of genuine policy across after one of them is caught picking Oleg Deripaska's pockets on a yacht in Corfu.

I suspect that a commercialised BBC would be just as biased towards a party whose output in recent weeks has not been worth the pixels or radio waves used to disseminate it. If even Michael Portillo is saying the Tories have no plan B, they are the ones in trouble, not the BBC.