River Wissey Lovell Fuller


April 2004

Ron gets on his Soapbox to express some strong views on the BBC

Hands off the Beeb

The BBC is a cherished national institution, it is the envy of the world. To have a national broadcaster that is financially independent of government or commercial interests is a highly desirable asset in a democracy. Governments of both persuasions have been angry with the BBC at times and would have liked to silence them; neither Labour nor Conservative are always keen on the truth being broadcast. Even though the Hutton enquiry blamed the BBC over a report that was deemed to be false, the basic premiss behind the report was true, i.e. that Alastair Campbell endeavoured to ensure that an intelligence report submitted would be one that favoured going to war. I think that the BBC Chairman and Director General caved in far too easily.

I believe that the licence fee is well worth the money just to ensure Aunty's continued independence alone, to say nothing of the many excellent documentaries and dramas they produce. The BBC's charter is up for review, there are those intent on stopping the income from the licence fee and making the BBC more commercial, the Government may also welcome an opportunity to pull some of its teeth. If it were to become more commercial it would mean that the BBC could be subject to political influence from its promoters and, furthermore, they would be looking for funds from the same source as the other commercial media, which would mean the same funds spread more thinly and could only result in a further reduction in the quality of our TV and radio programmes. It would be a tragedy if we were to lose this national asset, we must do all we can to ensure that we retain a truly independent broadcaster.

Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for shaping the future of British broadcasting, the rewriting of communications laws and the revision of the BBC's charter. She is currently conducting a nationwide debate on the BBC's future. Why not write to her and to Gilian Shephard and let them know your views?

Ron Watts

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