The BBC

I’ve always had an interest in the BBC, both as an idea and an institution, and today must be one of the darkest days in its history. The resignation of the two most senior men due to the Hutton Report‘s stinging attack must be a body blow. How often do you see staff members spontaneously protesting at the resignation of their boss? I can’t see Andrew Gilligan lasting the week, I’m not sure anybody could stay in a job where a mistake you made brought down two of the most important people in the media. In fact, given the magnitude of the error, I’m not sure you should. But what do I know.

I’m sure this is already being used by those who dislike the BBC to further promote their agendas. Many people seem to have nothing better to do than whinge about license fees, so I’m sure we’ll hear a fair few soundbites/bytes in the coming days. To these people I say this: shut up. While I’m not denying a huge mistake was made, I believe the BBC to be an incredibly important institution. Just comparing the quality and range of output shows that public-funded broadcasting has huge advantages over advertising-based channels. What other channel would have the guts to broadcast a critique of themselves? What other channel produces such a wide range of programming, or devotes entire evenings to charitable broadcasts for free, or runs one of the largest websites in Europe, or leads the way with interactive digital services (even if Telewest don’t carry it all), or helps schoolchildren with their revision, or provides free internet help courses as part of a massive online learning program including help for budding writers like me, or rescues popular programs from cancellation, even if they’re not British (Due South being just one – can’t find a link atm), or invests in films, or runs two whole tv channels purely for children? And there’s so much more.

Answers on a postcard. London W12 7RJ. Oops, force of habit.

I’m not saying that the BBC is a perfect institution, just that I think it does a tremendous amount of good for no other reason than that’s what it’s there to do, and all people seem to do is complain. It’s ironic that the best news coverage I can find is through the BBC itself. It sticks to the facts, avoids becoming opinionated and doesn’t patronise. That’s always been the reason most of my news links have been to the BBC site, and today is no different. Andrew Marr says that Lord Hutton found politicians to be much more trustworthy than journalists, whereas all public opinion polls say the reverse. He says that in the end, both parties should be worried about why they aren’t trusted. As ever, he has a point.