As I have a fairly open-minded and ambivalent personality, there are a number of subjects that throughout my life I have been unable to decide upon which side of the fence I sit, and one of these subjects is the BBC.
Instinctively, I quite like the BBC, I like the idea of a well-funded free-to-air network. I like the idea of television company that can take risks with programming without worrying about the sponsors money, and I must admit I like the World Service (for purely jingoistic reasons: I like being able to go anywhere in the world and watch proper british people reading the news). I suppose this is why, whenever I read an article attacking the BBC (which is becoming more and more common on some of the blogs I read) I always want to leap to its defence.
I am finding this more and more difficult!
The reasons I outlined above no longer seem adequate, very nice reasons they are but given the BBC’s increasing propensity to ape the sort of state-owned TV the comes out of Pyongyang they don’t really cut the mustard.
This leads me nicely to my next point. I would certainly hope, were I to live in a full Police State with a Police State TV that they would produce quality programming in between the propoganda about Goldstein or Osama or whoever, and this is no longer true of the BBC. There are some good shows now and then, but only good within a very formulaic framework. Cop Show, Spook Show, Auction Show or Talent Show are basically your choices. Or the ever-popular News Show Featuring Younger Pretty Bubbly Woman and Slightly Older “Funny Guy.” One of the reasons is I gave, and that is always given in favour of the BBC is that they are free to produce risk-taking programmes that purely commercial ventures wouldn’t take the risk on. When was the last time that happened? I don’t mean the funny-but-decidedly-student-humour stuff they show on BBC3, that has a market and would have found an outlet anyway, especially since the advent of the internet and video upload sites. I mean genuine, off-the-wall outside-the-box quality programming that people will still be watching in 20 years time. I can’t think of any.
Please note that I wrote the bulk of this before I heard of this story (h/t Libertarian Alliance). It seems that the TV Licencing “People” now don’t worry about errors in their system, if they fail to collect your fee they will take you to court, get you fined, and then have you arrested for non-payment of said fine and the first you will hear of it is when the Gestapo pitch up outside your door on a sunday afternoon and drag you away. It would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so scary, and it is precisely this kind of shit that makes them indefensible. Even if the BBC was producing 100% honest, reliable newscasting (i.e. not this sort of thing) and a hundred hours of Father Ted-Quality programming a day then this sort of behaviour would still be enough to damn them on its own.
I think my mind is made up now.