BBC to take ‘sympathy’ cuts?
The weekend saw culture secretary Jeremy Hunt use a major interview to herald major cuts at the BBC. Not surprisingly, the campaigning to save the BBC has already begun in earnest.
The licence fee is a unique funding mechanism that effectively shields the corporation from recession and Hunt appears to be arguing that this is somehow unfair. The private sector has suffered from recession, now some branches of government face cuts of up to forty percent.
This is a spurious argument at best that makes no reference to kind of BBC the country needs and wants. The shielding of such a large part of Britain’s broadcasting industry may be unfair in a school yard kind of way, it is a strength. It ensures that we enjoy a quality and diversity of broadcasting that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
In truth, the plan to cut back the BBC is as ideologically inspired as the plan to cut back government.
Hunt is not committed to a well regulated broadcast media run in the public interest. He finds all that rather paternalistic. Instead, he’d like to see our news dominated by something akin to Fox News in the USA. Rather hysterical and unashamedly biased towards the most bizarre right wing ideas.
Jeremy Hunt will find this hard sell. Even the Daily Mail columnists, not known for being friendly towards the BBC feel the need to label him a philistine and warn that ‘it’s our BBC not his’.