The BBC makes its case
The unique way the BBC is paid for and governed means it is owned by the British people and accountable to them.Actually it means it is owned by no one, and the British people, on their own, can do little to hold it to account, for if they refuse to fork over their money they go to jail, regardless of any objections they may have to the way the BBC operates.
Some think the BBC has been too occupied with ratings-chasing populist programmes and its public service role should be more clearly defined and imposed.This is the unavoidable dilemma of the BBC if commercial broadcasters are allowed to exist. If it competes for viewers with other broadcasters by producing programs that the public at large actually wants to watch, then it is demonstrably not providing a service that commercial players can’t or won’t provide. But if it eschews ratings to fulfill its inaptly named “public service” (read: elitist) role, then it is demonstrably not serving the public at large that is forced to pay for it.
On top of the everyday output, BBC supporters say a healthy, independent public broadcaster is vital to a vibrant, well-informed country.Oddly, no mention of what BBC detractors say. Funny, that.
The corporation says its role is to provide high-quality, creative and trustworthy services for everyone that other broadcasters cannot always provide because of commercial pressures.Can anyone think of an example of such a service “for everyone” that cannot be provided by someone else due to “commercial pressures”?
The BBC also says it exists to investigate and challenge those in authority on behalf of the British people.What makes the BBC think it is uniquely placed to do this? It strikes me, given that its existence is dependent upon those in authority, that it is instead uniquely subject to suspicion on this front.
The future of the BBC, as the UK's largest broadcaster, is also vital for the country's media industry. For example, the charter looks likely to give more work to independent production companies.Oh, well, that’s OK then. Tax us all in order to provide income to production companies. Perhaps the government should use tax monies to create the UK’s largest clothing store, thus becoming “vital” to the textile industry.
BBC TV ratings have declined as multi-channel viewing, through services such as Sky Digital and Freeview, has become more popular.In other words, as the BBC’s monopoly on broadcasting has waned, others are providing more and more of those previously mentioned services which supposedly couldn’t be offered due to “commercial pressures”.
The case for a state-mandated, tax-funded purveyor of news and entertainment has always been weak. It only gets more so as time passes.