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Monday, May 09, 2016

In defence of the BBC

Like many other people I watched the BAFTAs last night and heard Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky accuse the government of trying to “eviscerate” the BBC and Channel 4. He quite rightly got a standing ovation for his speech.

Kosminsky told viewers that Government proposals to appoint a majority of members on a new BBC board threatened its independence and would turn it into a state broadcaster “a bit like ... those bastions of democracy Russia and North Korea”.

He said the government wanted to tell the BBC what programmes to make and when to schedule them:

“It’s not their BBC, it’s your BBC. In many ways, the BBC and Channel 4, which they are also attempting to eviscerate, are the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it, not let it go by default,” Kosminsky said.

“If we don’t, blink and it will be gone. No more Wolf Halls, no more ground-breaking Dispatches [on Channel 4], just a broadcasting landscape where the only determinate of whether it gets made is whether it lines the pockets of shareholders.

“This is really scary stuff, folks, and not something I thought I would see in my lifetime in this country. All of this is under threat right now, make no mistake. It’s time to stand up and say no to this dangerous nonsense.”

As it happens I do have some sympathy with comments in this morning's press that the ceremony was just a bunch of lovies defending their own privileged position. But I would counter, if not them, then who?

The BBC does try too hard in my opinion to meet its impartiality guidelines, apologising when it might be best to let a comment pass, countering on behalf of a particular cause when an interviewee challenges it. But that does not detract from its position as an independent public service broadcaster. You only have to look at FOX news in the USA to see how unpalatable the alternative is.

It is not for government to dictate the policies of any broadcaster or media outlet. That really is the route to dictatorship. Equally though, it would be nice if others, who do not have a vested interest took up the cudgel thrown down by Kosminsky last night and stood up for the BBC, Channel 4 and all those on provincial newspapers whose jobs are under threat through the concerted effort of their owners to maximise profits at the expense of good journalism.

If those of us who value our freedoms do not speak out then we might as well give Government the right to do what it wishes with our media and ultimately our human rights.
Unfortunately, this is a further consequence that the people who voted Tory in May 2015 have lumbered the rest of us with...
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