The BBC has its faults – its priorities can be exasperating; it can engage in odd capital projects; its news focus can be unhelpful. However, it is quite possibly the single biggest accomplishment of the post-war UK – a global phenomenon, respected and even revered everywhere.
Quite why any government would seek to tamper with that mystifies me.
I was driving towards O’Hare Airport in Chicago late one night in 2001 when the local radio went over to through-the-night coverage provided by the BBC. I arrived at a hotel in Copenhagen in 2007 to find the computer used for internet access had its homepage set to the BBC. I noted in Cologne last year that BBC-branded Attenborough videos were prominent among potential Christmas gifts. Is there any UK business which has attained anything like this level of global coverage and automatic respect?
To us within the UK, we have an impartial news service; an outstanding history of drama and comedy; protected sports events; superb entertainment (both internally and externally sourced); and magnificent documentaries and learning programmes – all available on an array of TV and radio channels, via On Demand services, or on an outstanding web site.
The Economist recently reported, on the basis of a range of sources, that the UK has the largest “soft cultural” reach and influence in the world, bar none. The BBC is the corner stone of that – in addition to its outstanding range of local and national broadcasting and web services within the UK.
The BBC is a jewel. Only a fool would risk it.