Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Auntie Needs a Shrink


The Beeb must shrink or die says a thrilling new report .The bounder Hopi Sen is trying to imply its Sky propaganda ,because the author Martin Le Jeune runs a PR firm of which they are a client . As a hired Labour spinner, Hopi is obliged to admit …“Of course it is possible to write honestly. I don’t think that Martin has been dishonest in his views.”. As I said ..“This is general report about the direction of Public Broadcasting not a fan boy gush about Sky”. Having read it I think we can take the report as the authors considered convictions .

Those convictions include an admiration for the Reithian ethos .He quotes the great man defending his turf with magnificent spleen “ Somebody introduced Christianity into England , and somebody introduced smallpox , bubonic plague and the Black death. Somebody is minded to introduce sponsored broadcasting …Need we be ashamed of moral values or of intellectual and ethical objectives ..”…You have to love him....
Le Jeune does recognise ,however , that in world with 186million web sites and 133million blogs ,as well as endless channels ,the BBC has a dilemma . In some ways it’s the dilemma it has always had ,that of “Me-too-ism”.
Pirate Radio spawned Radio 1, and Radio 2 .Sky News lead to BBC News 24 ( Although the need was denied virtually up to the launch). It has aped reality TV , and phone voting .Far from being a cultural leader ,it has exhibited what David Attenborough would recognise as Parasitic behaviour. Partly this is to snuff out long term competition, but mostly funding by universal tax , creates an urge to invade any media lebensraum going . If we all pay then we must all get what we want.
With each step into the wild frontier, the justification for the poll tax gets more and more tenuous . It is palpably doing things the market wants to do . Imagine , says the author , we were inventing State Broadcasting today .Suppose we agree we would like to fund News , Children’s Programmes and Cultural Content mirroring that which we support through the Arts Council . We might agree that such a thing was worth the relatively small cost involved .Would we countenance a quasi-tax for the production of Quiz shows , imported US programming and Celebrity Dancing ? The answer is clearly no . The interesting thing is that what people really want from the BBC today is far closer to its historic purpose that the sprawling Empire of vested interests it has become
In the real world sudden change is usually a sudden disaster so I like the gradualism of the solution. Le Jeune suggests a freeze on The Licence fee ,with a concurrent requirement to sell off assets to maintain levels of funding . This would slowly disperse the resources gathered to the source of free money over time . . As the old girl loses weight the muscle and sinew of the BBC`s raison d`etre should be emphasised . For Reith “Entertainment “ was really only a fairground barker to lure the punters in for more informing and educating .A lean purposeful beast along these lines would be reborn ,providing exactly what we would want if we were to invent it today.

In the 1990s when Polly Toynbee was the Editor of Social Affairs Conservatives had good reason to detest Auntie Beeb. As the old girl got larger and larger consuming all the available space we wondered about her sanity. Complaining is fine , but we should emphasise that by demanding clarity for the Beebs objectives and sanity to its funding we are trying to save the only part worth saving . Its a case of either call the Shrink or call the undertaker .

3 comments:

Auntie Flo' said...

You had me worried for a moment there, Newms :)

Newmania said...

I was trying to do a sensioble thingyummy Flo ... not my style maybe

it's either banned or compulsory said...

Sell off the BBC now, put the old dear out of its misery.

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