The BBC should no longer be funded by a licence fee - Neil McNicholas
Mr Davie was quoted as saying: “Our mission has never been more relevant, important or necessary. I have a deep commitment to [programme] content of the highest quality and impartiality.”
As a first step, could I suggest he takes a closer look at the inscription that has been displayed in the lobby of Broadcasting House since the day it opened in 1932?
It reads in part: “This temple of arts and muses is dedicated to Almighty God. It is [the governors’] prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished from this house.”
If no one is going to take any notice of it any more, then maybe it should be plastered over so everyone knows where they stand.
Of course it doesn’t help that the inscription is in Latin – a measure of the pretentiousness of the corporation right from the beginning and the presumption that its governors even believed in God, much less whether they prayed to him.
How many governors, trust members and directors general, entering that lobby then and during the 88 years since, could even have translated what it said and then worked to uphold the principles stated?
Were the figure of Prospero to step down from his plinth above the entrance to Broadcasting House and invite me to put together a personal wish list to be placed in Mr Davie’s in-tray, it might look something like this:
1. The BBC should no longer be financed by a licence fee.
It is unconscionable that people should be forced by law to financially support its existence and operation, not to mention its excesses and waste, whether they watch the BBC or not, and especially when other broadcasters have to compete in the market place of the real world.
If the Beeb does indeed broadcast the quality programming that many people claim it does, then let it prove the point by doing the same as PBS in the States by seeking pledges and donations from those people and organisations that want to see more of the same.
What is the BBC afraid of that it won’t even entertain (no pun intended) the idea? And of course why should they when all the money they want is handed to them on a silver platter?
2. Why does the Beeb need to have eight national and 23 local television channels, not to mention all the national and local radio stations it operates, and the World Service, broadcasting to people who don’t even pay a licence fee?
If the corporation can no longer afford to operate on such a scale, then let them slim down their operation to something far more manageable and that they can afford to pay for themselves.
3. I would like to question those producers who think it’s acceptable to fill their programmes with obscenities on the grounds that’s how life is.
If I wanted to watch life as it is I can sit on my doorstep for free and do that.
What I want is to be educated and entertained by television, according to the dictionary definition of those words.
Anyone being commissioned to produce programmes for the Beeb should be made to read that lobby inscription and the principles advocated once upon a time by the corporation that employs or commissions them.
4. I would also like the BBC to set up some sort of training scheme to teach their on-air announcers, reporters and programme presenters lessons in the English language, especially regarding singular objects and plural verbs and vice versa.
For example “the government are” instead of “is” and “none of them are” instead of “is” and the fact the word “unique” doesn’t have a qualifier with it – so something can’t be truly unique or absolutely unique. It’s either unique or it’s not.
Pedantic? Yes – and why not?
Some of these things apply equally to other broadcasters and not just the BBC but the thing is that as a public broadcaster it should be held to a higher standard, not to mention the fact we are paying for what they do and what they broadcast.
For that very reason alone the corporation should be more accountable for how our money is used – including the salaries paid to the 13-person board and the 16-person executive committee who are running the Beeb. Something else I might wish Prospero could do something about.
Neil McNicholas is a parish priest in Yarm.
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