Monday 19 September 2016

Whose Broadcasting Corporation is it really?

In reporting on the proposed new charter for the BBC, the Western Mail chose to lead with the proposal that Wales would be guaranteed a place on the new BBC board.  How nice for Wales – another opportunity for a Welsh voice to participate in discussions before being over-ruled by the majority from England.  (Unless, of course, the chosen representative is carefully selected to be the sort of person who won’t make waves in the first place.)
It’s an obvious attempt to find a ‘safe’ Welsh angle on the news by another organisation not particularly well-known for making waves either.  But I didn’t think that it was the most significant element of the announcement from a Welsh perspective.  For that, we have to go further down the report, until we reach the part where the UK Culture Secretary said that one of the BBC’s “many responsibilities” was to “bring people together” and support “greater cohesion, not least among the nations of the United Kingdom.”
Now the quaint idea that many have that the BBC is somehow an ‘impartial’ reporter of events has never been true; it has always been the tool of the establishment, presenting all news from an establishment viewpoint.  But it seems to me that this is taking that lack of impartiality one stage further; this is giving the BBC an explicit responsibility to act as a tool for one particular outlook, and promote the idea that the nations of the UK are a homogeneous whole.  It says a lot about the self-styled “national newspaper of Wales” that it treats that as almost an addendum to the glorious news about us having a representative who can always be outvoted.
We need a better media than this in Wales; and in the field of broadcasting, the BBC needs to be broken up into an EBC, a WBC, a SBC and a NIBC, each with its own charter decided by the relevant devolved parliament.  And the sooner that happens the better. 


Anonymous said...

Okay, let's split the BBC up. But this will mean each region having to pay full whack for 'their' national BBC.

Is this okay with Wales and Welsh households? I don't think so.

John Dixon said...

The answer to that question probably depends in no small measure on the scope of the individual national broadcasting organisations. But that's a rather different question.

Jonathan said...

Never mind what one UK Cultural Minister says - they come and they go. Read the legal documents which have legal force and which last, until replaced. The Royal Charter.
The 2010 Charter states the Public Purposes which every one would expect, from the days of Lord Reith today: anodyne, worthy, and important in a crisis eg war against Hitler.
The draft 2016 Charter, as you say, contains a new Public Purpose "The BBC
should bring people together for shared experiences and help contribute to the social
cohesion and wellbeing of the United Kingdom." Many will say that the BBC has acted for some time as though this new draft Public Purpose is already in force. Well it has been kicking around for a while now.
Yes, the House of Lords might delete this. But why should they? Its fairly anodyne, and there is a lot of counterbalancing guff about respecting nations, diversity etc.
Its like a lot of things in Wales, to get the improvements we need, to pay our £15bn a year deficit, we have got to get moving, perhaps do something eye-catching, raise hell.
Doesn't sound like Wales in 2016, does it.