Thursday 13 February 2020

The long march through the institutions

The biggest disadvantage of having a two-man blog is that if both of us are out of office for more than a couple of days the ‘above the line’ content lags behind the cutting edge of broadcasting-related commentary.

Developments and issues that have been discussed on other blogs have turned into yesteryear’s chip paper before you’ve had time to log on.  The current episode of The Moral Maze - the one about the Beeb - is one such.

I listened to it on iPlayer (BBC Sounds) and it struck me that the programme could have gone on a lot longer if it were to have any kind of meaningful outcome. It didn’t seem to get anywhere. I find the issue of funding less important than the issue of, well, what sort of BBC do we want?  

If we are going to be happy with another commercial organisation, then the subscription model seems apt. But if we want a kind of reliable, independent ‘public service’ Beeb, then the telly tax is best. The trouble is that we seem to have ended up with the worst of both worlds. A tax-funded commercial outfit which we’re compelled to pay for, like it or lump it.

Personally, I’d choose to ditch the ratings-driven need to compete with commercial channels. A slimmed-down, politically diverse BBC would be better.

Did anyone watch the latest video from the New Culture Forum, in the ‘Counterculture’ series?   Your man Rafe Heydel-Mankoo summed it up thus: (of the Conservative government)
“They’ve won the battle by winning this election. The culture war is going to be tackling the long march through the institutions and to actually address things like the BBC, address things like the bias in universities and the department of education, in the civil service, and they’ve got ten years now to try to redress that balance, because they will have lost the culture war if they’re actually unable to attack this liberal elite who’ve got no support in the country, but they control all the levers of power and have all the ways in which media is consumed and I know for a fact that that a key issue being pushed for over the next few years is how do we actually get over the final stage of the culture war, which is to go over the top and get control back.

So there you have it. In about ten years’ time, we might achieve something like balance and political diversity; something worth the licence fee.

As for the Moral Maze, I thought the most telling segment of all was during Matthew Taylor’s grilling of witness Robin Aitken, and he (Taylor) said 
”The BBC has always been the voice of the ‘educated establishment” 
 “the university-educated are more ‘liberal left’”
(which, impliedly, is a jolly good thing.)

He posed the question, what if the BBC were forced to ‘platform’ (give equal billing to) non-experts and give equal weight to flat-earthers and we university-educated experts?
Yes, indeed. That would be ridiculous if it weren’t for the fact that the ‘educated experts’ have been fully immersed in their own special type of ‘flat-earth’ morality for so long that they’re stuck in a state of atrophy without quite realising it. 

The most glaring gap in the discussion was that political correctness has effectively stifled comedy.  You’d think, with Andrew Doyle on the panel, someone might have brought that up. 

In the olden days, as Matthew Taylor said: 
“the educated establishment was more conservative than the rest of the population”. 
Yes, in pre-60s broadcasting, the establishment lagged behind the rest of the population, but in the 60s ‘cutting edge’ did effectively ‘cut’ the edge, and to good effect. 

In the politically correct 2020s, no-one has so far dared to cut any edges on the BBC. It’s all happening elsewhere.


  1. As much as I resent my license fee being used for political propaganda I agree that funding is not the central issue. I can see an argument along the lines of, if the BBC became a subscription service, it would no doubt remain an echo chamber, but like say “the Guardian” viewers would have a choice as to subscribe or not. But the problem is where else is there to go that is not an echo chamber. It’s true that it’s possible to find balanced content on the internet, but you have to look very hard for it. Overwhelmingly it’s even more of an echo chamber than than the BBC. Or do we want a rival broadcaster similar to Fox? Once again another echo chamber, but with a different political point of view.

    The lack of political diversity in the BBC and universities has become a self-perpetuating monster. Mathew Taylor can refer to the universities and the “educated establishment”, but he is evading the issue of indoctrination in all of those institutions.

    1. Where is our Fox News or Sky Australia? Nowhere to be seen.

      That's why I favour reform of the BBC, not just removal of the licence fee.

      You will know you have got the reforms right when the Left-Liberals start screaming blue murder, censorship and oppression. That will be when you know you are restoring a little bit of balance.

  2. He was sharpening his claws at any hint of a threat to his ideological BBC but his argument wasn't so sharp when he came up with that dud of a would-be analogy. Flat footed Matt.

    The problem with the current arrangement is that the BBC is operating as a political entity. It doesn't do what it is supposed to do and what it claims to do. And what the charter says it should do gives it far too much scope for grand claims about great purposes. There is far too much BBC. It is protected and monopolistic and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. I like the BBC / have long liked the BBC but it is doing everything to make itself dislikeable to me.


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