Defending Auntie 

1 January 2004

Ian Beaumont supports the BBC

Personally, I am getting very fed up of the people who are having a go at the BBC for one unkind reason or another.

Sure, there are several things the BBC does that people don’t agree with. Personally, I think BBC Local Radio should be there to serve an area, not an age group. I think that the BBC should get rid of its channel identifiers. I think the BBC should have its own sports channel. I think the BBC shouldn’t have changed Radio 5 into Five Live. I think BBC World Service Television should have been non-commercial and not forced to become the entities we now know as BBC Prime and BBC World.

But I also think the BBC should be able to market its own successes around the world if they want to. I think the BBC shouldn’t have to apply to the Government for creating a new channel, when all commercial companies have to do is apply to the ITC for a licence.

As a viewer and listener, I have a lot of opinions about the BBC, but I think it is generally making the best of what it has, and has been doing so in the face of adversity for many years. Now the BBC is under the strongest pressure ever. It seems that a lot of people have their own ideas about what then BBC should be.

Commercial broadcasters don’t want the BBC to compete for the audience. Since when has it ever been commercial broadcaster’s audience? It is the Audience, and if they are so afraid of some healthy competition, then they don’t even deserve to be broadcasting.

If you can’t stand the heat, then get the hell out of the kitchen, and make room for those that can. Another argument that raises my ire is the one that goes, “The BBC should not be launching channels on a format where not everybody can receive it”.

A little history lesson. The BBC started broadcasting in 1922, to no more than a few hundred people. They were the only ones who could afford the radio sets. BBC Television began in 1936 broadcasting to no more than a few hundred, if that. Now, by those standards, the BBC should have made sure radio and TV were available to everybody before launching. Oh yes! That really makes sense.

Another argument that gets my back up is “The BBC should not be producing something that a commercial broadcaster can do just as well, if not better.” Rubbish! The BBC is there to provide information, education and entertainment for everyone. It is not there to pander to the commercial sector by only providing programmes the commercial sector wouldn’t do or show, as with PBS in the US.

PBS shows no mainstream entertainment of any kind, because the commercial networks do it all for them. I do not want to see that sort of situation here in the UK. It won’t do the commercial sector one bit of good at all, because there will be no healthy competition as each of the commercial services will focus on one area of programming in order to avoid competition. This has happened in the US on both TV and radio, and it’s starting to happen over here, on radio at leastwith TV soon to follow.

Well, I’d rather we had some real competition, from outside the commercial sector. That will be the only way to keep the commercial sector healthy and competitive. At the moment, the BBC is the only competition the commercial sector has. Channel 4 may be state owned, but it is commercially run. So, unless we start getting more broadcasters in the public sector, and I don’t see that happening, then the BBC is going to be the only competition the commercial sector has. Now, if there is a genuine suggestion that the BBC should change, then by all means, let’s have it discussed in an open public debate. Let’s have some constructive debate, and criticism if its warranted.

But in until then, we must see that the detractors are criticising for purely selfish reasons and should just shut up and allow the BBC to get on with its job, educating, informing and entertaining each member of the British public.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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