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Time to put Auntie in a home.

IT’S THAT TIME of year when the TV licence fee renewal pops up in my email inbox and reminds me of the two good reasons for putting the BBC in a home for retired Fabians.

The first is that it’s too big. I no longer know how many TV and radio stations it has. Why does it need so many? What’s the point of having a state broadcaster pretending to compete in a market in which there are now dozens of commercial competitors? And why can’t the government devise a better system of paying for it than a tax demand with menaces?

The BBC is a quasi monopoly with an undue advantage over its competitors because it is funded by a tax on anyone who wants to watch tv legally. It’s unaccountable to its viewers, however much it may patronise them with Points of View and its complaints procedures. The BBC could churn out hours of programming that nobody watched and it would still survive. No commercial broadcaster could do that.

The second reason to downsize the corporation is its political bias and its now thoroughly undeserved reputation for objectivity. Far from being impartial it is firmly wedded to the left-liberal viewpoint. It was always thus, as Antony Jay acknowledges of his time at the BBC in the early 1960s. Its staff suffered from what he calls “media liberalism”, which he describes as “an ideology, a secular religion, based not on observation and deduction but on faith and doctrine”.

This was characterised by what they were against: industry, profit, capitalism, advertising, patriotism, monarchy, Empire, the police, the army, etc. – in other words, everything the majority of the population believed in. If it was bad then, it’s worse now, because today you can add Christianity, banks and bankers, white people, posh white people who speak with posh accents, selective education, Conservatives (if you can actually find any), Eurosceptics, car-drivers, global warming sceptics, the English, smokers, drinkers and people who eat burgers rather than hand-reared organic chickens and locally-sourced sea bass.

Most people will remember the original remit of the BBC, to “inform, educate and entertain”, although their experience will tell them that entertainment predominates. They’re unlikely to know that the first thing defined under its Public Purposes as laid down in the 2006 Charter is “sustaining citizenship and civil society”. Ah, there we have a favourite Orwellian term of the left – “citizenship”. How New Labour loved that idea. Auntie will show you how to be a good citizen.

Being a good citizen means that you will not encounter any of the following in an impartial form: reports or discussions of the procedures or organisation of the EU (remember any programmes about the European Constitution or its later incarnation, the Lisbon Treaty?), anything about the Middle East that puts Israel in a good light, any discussion about how big or small the state should be and how much tax it should take, any criticism of the NHS or any questioning of the dogmas of equality, diversity, mass immigration and the redistribution of wealth. As for the USA there won’t be anything objective about the Republican party and there will definitely be nothing remotely critical of the sainted Obama.

The fact is I’m paying the BBC under threat of prosecution for a certain amount of decent broadcasting but absolutely nothing of value in terms of information and news. Instead of the latter I get a diet of progressive propaganda presented by a bunch of smug metropolitan clones whose views are unrepresentative of those of the majority of people in this country. No wonder Orwell used the corporation as a model for 1984. It’s astounding its reputation for impartiality has survived so long.

Auntie is living under false pretences in a house that is far too big for her and it’s costing us all too much. She’s also playing a major part in the corruption of the political life of the country. It’s time to move her out, put her in a smaller home, keep a stricter eye on what she’s doing and save ourselves a bundle.

Michael Blackburn.

Note: If you opt to unplug, you could always read. Here are three suggestions:

Confessions of a Reformed BBC Producer: Antony Jay, Centre for Policy Studies.

The current BBC Charter.

Notes from the Previous War: Denis Boyles on the BBC’s bad day in Baghdad.

 

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