BY JON ALEXANDER
May the 8th. Put that date in your diaries. It could signal the beginning of the end of our once globally respected British Broadcasting Corporation. Over one hundred thousand signatures have been gathered on a petition to request that the UK Parliament discuss the future of the institution which was founded ninety-four years ago, in a world very different to now.
For those of us growing up in the 80’s and before we had up to four channels, life and the nation’s conversation at work, in the street and in the playgrounds revolved around Saturday night entertainment, which was mainly dominated by the Beeb. TV shows drew in anywhere up to 30 million viewers and launched household names that still live on in memory today; programmes that gave us some of the most iconic TV moments in history.
Fast forward to 2017 where the BBC’s leading show of the night can barely manage six million viewers, where one nonentity after another is paraded on every show it produces in an exclusive contract offering out millions of pounds, where even the slightest risqué joke can result in uproar and where a staff member can be publicly humiliated for daring to have an opinion not shared by the bosses.
Make no mistake, had this debate been called before last year, it would be a guarantee that apart from a few dissenters, the BBC would keep Government support for its current arrangement and nothing would change. But this is 2017, we have seen numerous examples of impossible scenarios being played out before our very eyes on the political stage. If you’re not popular, you’re gone. The 8th of May could continue that populist wave and see the BBC forced to do the unthinkable – privatise and actually stand on its own two feet and operate like a proper business, not some standalone quango dominated by Labour voting leftists.
The current “business model” requires anybody with a TV to pay a Licence Fee (there are various exclusions but essentially if you have a TV and the authorities find out about it you find yourself barraged with letters explaining that you need a licence). Now, the many supporters of the BBC will argue until they are blue in the face that the BBC provides quality programming, an impartial news service and services that cannot be rivalled. “Great value for money,” according to the likes of Jeremy Vine.
I would argue that these people might want to stop parroting what the BBC constantly tells them and wake up to the media revolution. Thirty years ago their point may have been valid but not now – we have data, news and entertainment much more readily available from multiple sources. Take the Charts – we no longer have to wait for the national music charts to be announced on a special radio countdown, we can find out who is number one within a few seconds of it being official, we don’t need to wait for the BBC to announce that a war has begun, it’s usually already been predicted weeks in advance on Twitter.
The BBC these days just plays catch-up on selected stories and even then it’s been heavily reworked to fit the narrative they are trying to push. Consider Brexit for example, there were few balanced arguments propounded by the Beeb. Once the result was announced, anything good that happened to the country was because of our membership in the EU and “despite Brexit”, anything bad or negative was a direct result of this truly dreadful decision. The BBC tried to convince us it was impartial despite receiving money from the EU. It became unbearable to many Brexiteers and many lost all trust.
If the BBC is so awesome and righteous that it merits surviving on its existing business model, then why worry facing up to the market – to voluntary subscriptions? Surely that would encourage even more people to use it? If the service is so righteous, why are there people currently in prison for not paying the license fee?
I agree that the state broadcaster once played an important part in national life but these days the scandals surrounding it are what characterises it most. Let’s not forget that for the last few years it has emerged that the BBC was harbouring numerous “celebrities” who it turned out were committing sexual assaults against children, the Beeb stood by and didn’t say anything despite the complaints and investigations. When it did finally acknowledge the serious situation, the problem was quickly brushed under the carpet and they carried on as if nothing had happened. Catholics – faced with a similar situation – were free to leave the church. Why aren’t we? The corporation has got too big for its boots and considers itself beyond reproach – leading to many being more vocal about its failings than before.
For those still defending the BBC, let me put this to you, if you were hard up would you be happy to pay a Shopping Licence to Waitrose every month regardless of where you shop? No? Why not? I can personally recommend Waitrose and find it to be a fantastic provider of food and an excellent place to shop with excellent Customer Service but hard-up shoppers go to Lidl. The central argument – if you have a TV you use the BBC – used to defend the BBC in its current form you can also use to defend absurdity.
Should the BBC retain its current agreement, which I suspect it will, it will be a hollow victory. The politicians are changing and new ones coming into Parliament have smelt the coffee. The view from the street in 2017 is bad news for the License Fee.
The way in which we view TV shows, seek out news and live our lives means the BBC is desperately playing catch up. The culture of the BBC isn’t to change or adapt, it’s to provide the Left with a mouthpiece and to keep the gravy train going. As we’ve seen recently, that’s getting harder and harder to do.
The horse has already bolted from the stable and it’s picking up speed. I predict that by 2026 the license fee will be history. The BBC will live on – reduced, forced to be popular again and shorn of the cultural Marxists.