Monday, 31 March 2008

Why the Tories would regret breaking up the BBC

The Right accuse them of  dangerous bias, but a weaker BBC would be dangerous for all.

The news that David Cameron would cut £250 million from the BBC should come as little surprise to the seasoned Tory watcher. An inbuilt hatred of the corporation and it's non-partisan, multicultural outlook has long had a hold on the average Tory's heart.

And Cameron, however much he poses as the modern liberal media man is still fundamentally a Tory leader. And much like his pledge to leave the European People's Party, this pledge to take on the BBC is still very much part of the deal.

But while this announcement will please many free-market tories, the real target of this pledge will have been a certain Aussie pensioner named Rupert.

Opening up the licence fee to the market will be the latest and possibly most decisive step towards a Murdoch domination of the airwaves. And a quick look across the water to the excesses of Fox News should give anyone a reason why this should be avoided.

But more importantly both the Left and Right should realise what a decisive role the BBC has played in maintaining a British culture. 

Unlike in divided France where taxpayers subsidise elite cinema, in Britain the licence fee has ensured a nation united under common humour, stories and characters. And for all that culture snobs look down on them, programmes like Only Fools and Horses, Eastenders and the Royle Family have done more for our sense of Britishness than any government initiative ever will.

Of course the corporation isn't perfect. Much could be done to broaden its reach and to shift its focus from the South. But the only way that this can be done is by maintaining our commitment to it. Starving it of income will only make it more insular and less brave in its output. 

Fundmentally a poorer BBC would be a duller BBC and a weaker BBC when Murdoch comes a calling.

And while a stronger Murdoch presence may in the short term help the Tories, in the long-term it will leave governments of all colours tightly in his grip. A weaker BBC would mean stronger media monopolies. And an American style democracy where not voters, but money holds sway.

So while breaking up the BBC might buy him an election, David Cameron should realise that there may be a bigger price to pay.


Anonymous said...

Over the past 6 years the BBC has shown considerable left wing bias and one dimensional arguments.
It has also visibly promoted very controversial factors such as dialects, immigration, gay rights, and multi-culturalism without regard to their effects abroad, and that the majority of British are basically against them.
Their arrogance when challenged is beyond belief, much like the government that they support.
I believe that a root and branch pruning is needed in the BBC especially Radio 4 - I threw my TV out years ago.
Funding should be kept stable at 3 billion £ for some 3 years that the restructure is carried out with better programmes including drama and humour being made.
Note that the best humour on BBC is always found when the Conservatives are in power - Nu Labor could not stomach satirical programmes as they would be the obvious target.

The Tory Troll said...

The fact that you threw your telly out years ago doesn't make you a great judge of recent output so here's an update. Some great political satire from recent years on terrestrial television which somehow the government have managed to 'stomach' :

The Armando Iannuci Shows
The Thick of it
Have I Got News for You
Rory Bremner
Brass Eye

and a number of one off lampoonings of Blair, Brown and Prescott. These shows have all taken big stabs at New Labour. You should really consider getting another telly. I think you would really enjoy them.