The controversies of the BBC

Americans who watch a lot of British television shows (and they would include me) are sometimes awestruck by the fact of the British Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as the BBC.

The programs that we see coming from the BBC are interesting, thoughtful, and well-produced and often make American programming look shallow and superficial.

Why, we are tempted to ask, can America not have something akin to the BBC programming that would consistently entertain and challenge us in the same way?

The BBC is, indeed, a jewel in the crown a British culture. Americans are rightly envious.

But not everyone in Great Britain sees it that way. The BBC is highly popular among television viewers in Great Britain, but it is also a political football that British politicians and cultural commentators have kicked around for nearly a century.

Now there is a new book by Patrick Barwise and Peter York titled The War Against the BBC: How an Unprecedented Combination of Hostile Forces Is Destroying Britain’s Greatest Cultural Institution … And Why You Should Care.

The book was recently the subject of a short review by Dorian Lynskey in The Guardian. The enemies of the BBC, Lynskey points out, come from all points on the political spectrum. Yet they have been unable to destroy this cultural icon or even to inflict any permanent damage.

It is hard work trying to bring down the BBC when the masses stubbornly insist on enjoying and trusting its output, so the wheels of grievance require constant oiling by newspapers, thinktanks, and opaquely funded pressure groups such as News-watch. Governments have been growling at the BBC for decades. Winston Churchill never forgave it for remaining independent during the 1926 general strike, while Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair have all forced the departure of troublesome directors-general. Source: The War Against the BBC review – in defence of a national institution | Books | The Guardian

The authors of the book under review contend, however, that the current alignment of forces against the BBC brings more danger to that Institution than ever before.

If you care about British television and the programming that you were able to watch, this is a review worth reading.

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, (JPROF.com) a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self-publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker, and beekeeper -- among other things. Subscribe to his weekly newsletter at http://www.jprof.com .
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