Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Future of the BBC Should be a Big Election Issue

The Observer reports that at least 50 prominent actors have signed a letter attacking Conservative plans for the BBC. David Tennant, Eddie Izzard and others claim that the Conservative position "threatens to devalue not just the BBC itself, but our culture as a whole", urging voters to consider the consequences for the corporation on polling day.

I would go further, and I have done so in direct conversations with BBC senior executives. I believe that the Tories have an agreement, formal or not, secret or not, with the Murdoch empire that, if the Tories win the election, the BBC will be attacked, weakened and perhaps made to divest of parts of its organisation, such as the much admired and successful BBC website and some radio or TV stations. The Murdoch empire will benefit by the weakening of a broadcasting rival and in furthering Murdoch's online ambitions by removing the BBC website as an obstacle to those ambitions.

I raised the matter during an interview I had on the weekly Newswatch programme with the BBC but I got no direct response, and that portion of the interview was edited out and never broadcast.

The Murdoch empire has been one of the least savoury influences in the degradation of the news media in the UK and in the USA. It's actions have been purely commercial and never taken in the interests of society, the country or any observable moral or ethical goal. The profit and growth of the organisation have been paramount, codes of accuracy or impartiality or morality have been notable by their absence from Murdoch's output.

The BBC, on the other hand, is one of the best, most respected and most impartial news organisations in the world. It produces a wide range of excellent factual and entetainment programmes on television and on radio and it has a world-renowned website. It is one of the best loved institution in Britain and a flagship of British culture and integrity abroad. It is a benchmark organisation in its field.

If the Conservative's win the election it will be the signal to the Murdoch empire that it is open season on the BBC. IMO, the BBC is too good a broadcaster and too precious a national institution to be damaged, diminished or even lost in the interests of privatisation and profit. And the Murdoch empire is too malign an entity to gain such a victory over the BBC.

The actions of the 50 TV actors  would tend to indicate that they have similar concerns.

There are many reasons, economic, social and ethical to reject the Conservatives. In my opinion the danger to the BBC from a Conservative/Murdoch victory is not the least of these.

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