Democratic local goverment – going. National Health Service – going. Nationalised industries and utilities – gone. Schools have become academies, the youth service has disappeared, Private Finance Initiative repayments are draining the public purse, money straight into greedy hands. Our utilities – foreign owned. Our railways privatised. The European Union is having a field day. The neoliberal agenda is rampant.
One great public institution that the sharks have wanted to break up for ages is the BBC. It has been a tough nut for them to crack. As everywhere else in the public sector it has been a war of attrition and disgusting peadophiles who hid in the organisation haven’t helped. But public service broadcasting is deeply popular and the BBC remains, with all its often pro imperialist, pro establishment, pro capitalist political bias, a beacon of quality across a broad range of genres whether it’s folk music, pop, jazz, classical, light entertainment, zany quizzes, madcap comedy programmes like Just a Minute, really in depth interrogation of slippery bourgeois politicians, or its tremendous scope of world news coverage. Not to mention its knowledge packed website and educational functions.
Although many people turn on to Al Jazeera or event Russia Today or Chinese News to get a comprehensive picture of the world, the BBC is at the heart of things in many, many places and From Our Own Correspondent frequently provides real insight into the lives of other countries.
If you don’t want to watch endless adverts for loan sharks or anti-ageing cream, if you don’t want to see countless repeats of cops and robbers, or unreality TV, then you might just find day in day out a breadth of quality broadcasting arts and culture, science and technology on the good old Beeb. Think its a bit posh and elitist? Try wall to wall religious or shopping stations or the drivel of the output of entire companies and channels dedicated to superficiality and the mighty dollar.
The war against the BBC is hotting up and will start with the Bill to decriminalise the failure to pay the licence fee. Bent research into the prospects of people paying a subscription by choice are another side of the drip drip war to kill off public broadcasting.
Progressive people throughout the world actually need a progressive publicly owned broadcasting corporation in Britain. We should not be thinking about breaking up the BBC into a version of The Sun and Fox TV – we should be thinking of creative ways of making it closer to the aspirations and needs of the people who should be proud of their licence fee contribution to this great institution.