Humble Suggestions for the BBC

The letters B, B and C, made out of rocks

I’m in danger of becoming a bit of a crank when it comes to the BBC, the national broadcaster here in the UK. Disdain for the BBC is rife amongst both poles of the political spectrum — the right think it is institutionally leftist, the left think it is fundamentally conservative — and so whenever I express my frustration about the BBC, people rush to assume that I am situated at either pole. The reality is that I think the BBC does about the best job it can do of its (impossible) task of presenting politics without bias. That said, it does also make its life needlessly harder through a series of bizarre operational decisions.

So I caveat all that I’m saying by reiterating that I like the BBC’s output: they make great TV, great radio, great podcasts. I use their website every day; it is my default news source. I like the product, sure, I just have reservations about how they arrive at that product — why they arrive at that product– and what they’re planning to do next.

With the news that Tony Hall is stepping down this summer, amidst suggestions that Boris Johnson might reform the way the license fee is collected, the future of the BBC is on the table once again. And every suggestion for the broadcaster’s future seems to focus on increasing digitisation (an understandable buzzword in the current climate). With all this uncertainty about what the BBC should be doing, I’m here (like, say, Superman, or any other regular, everyday hero) to humbly offer a few suggestions.

  • Understand the position of a taxpayer funded broadcaster in the marketplace. This sounds sort of crankish and right-wing, but it’s important that the BBC recognises, in everything that it seeks to do, that it is an extremely big fish in a small(ish) pond, and one that doesn’t even need to eat the other fish because it is being regularly taken out of the pond, dosed up on piscine steroids and dropped back into the aforementioned pond as a hulking, muscular menace. The metrics that apply to the BBC’s competitors do not apply to the BBC; indeed it would be good for the BBC not to see itself as surrounded by competitors, as it engenders an unhealthy mindset in a state-funded organisation.

Want more like this? Glutton for punishment? Follow me on Twitter.

Writer. Podcast entrepreneur. London. Interested in politics and the media. Co-founder podotpods.com Email: nick@podotpods.com.

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