Radio 4's Feedback returned just in time to coverage the Whittingdale White Paper on the future of the BBC. Roger Bolton and his programme went well some way beyond the bounds of impartiality last series on the subject, straying into some pretty open campaigning at times. Colin Browne of the pro-BBC Voice of the Listener and Viewer was something of a fixture, occasionally being presented (by Roger) as if he were an independent expert rather than the head of a pressure group.
Mr Browne was back this week. At least Roger Bolton introduced him as a 'critical friend' of the BBC. He even let slip something I didn't know about Colin Browne: that he's ex-BBC. Looking him up it turns out he was Director of Corporate Relations for the BBC from BBC from 1994 to 2000.
Also interviewed were several strongly pro-BBC listeners. (No critics of the BBC appeared).
Perhaps suggesting how good the deal was for the BBC, they all seemed very relieved about it. But, of course, they wanted more. They wanted the BBC to get it all their own way. They especially wanted the bit about the government being able to appoint a minority of members of the new unitary governing board removed. They also worried a bit about whether the government could get at the BBC through Ofcom, who will be charged with investigating serious complaints.
But last week’s White Paper on the BBC offers a tiny spark of hope. The BBC is soon to lose the power to be judge and jury in its own cause. If you pursue your complaint hard enough, it will go to Ofcom, an outside regulator.
I urge you to do as I shall do, and – as soon as it is in place – use this new freedom to the full. My only fear is that Ofcom itself is infected by the same establishment Leftism as the BBC. It will have to prove me wrong. But such small changes can sometimes bring about revolutions.
As much as I mistrust all optimism, I am entitled to hope. Let us all speak truth to BBC power.