Tuesday 24 May 2005

The BBC: is this the beginning of the end?

Yesterday, hundreds of BBC staff went on strike over proposed cut-backs and inevitable redundancies. Even high profile figures like the lovely Natasha Kaplinsky made the effort (although not going to work doesn't technically constitute a great deal of effort). I doubt that Ms Kaplinsky was outside Broadcasting House with a placard in her hand, but I digress.

The thing is, if the great and good at the BBC are worried enough to down tools, so to speak, then things must be bad. When was the last time you can recall the Beeb's scheduling being disrupted by industrial action? No, I can't remember either.

The BBC (or British Broadcasting Corporation, to give it its full moniker) is, for my money, the greatest broadcasting agency in the world. Okay, I obviously seen every alternative globally, but I've been to enough countries and watched enough TV to know that the Beeb is pretty special, and should be treasured. Okay, so we have to cough up an annual license fee but compare the outlay of this to the spiralling monthly costs of a Sky TV subscription. Then consider all the new digital channels the BBC has launched (TV and radio) to supplement its existing output. Add to this the fact that, "due to the unique way the BBC is funded", you can actually watch a film on the BBC without being interrupted by adverts (bliss). And as if that wasn't enough, the BBC also provides, in my view, the greatest one-stop website you'll find anywhere - the volume and breadth of content is phenomenal.

So yes, I am obviously a fan of the BBC. As such, I am somewhat concerned about any plans to "streamline", "rationalise" or "modernise" the Corporation, and you should be too. Such buzzwords are often euphemisms for "muck up" or, worse still, "irreversably damage". So don't moan if your usual newsreader is off-screen for one day: support and understand their industrial action. Cherish the BBC: watch its programmes (easy, given the celebrity-obsessed dross on ITV), try out the new channels, explore the website. There's nothing else like it anywhere in the world, and you'll miss it when it's gone...

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