The future of the BBC


A new report by Martin le Jueune entitled To inform, educate and entertain? British broadcasting in the twenty-first century has been published by the CPS. It goes some way in offering a realistic way forward for reform, but alas, falls short of calling for the disestablishment of the BBC.

The report is right in arguing that “The next Government should be prepared to face down élitism disguised as a concern for standards". However, the idea that the next government should also “build a system that really meets the needs of British consumers, voters and society" draws inspiration from the same ideological scripture that he criticises.

Politicians should leave the media well alone. The report suggests the government should regulate that the BBC so it provides:“Impartial news and current affairs, factual and documentary programming, children’s television, classical music, speech radio – and little more."

  • Impartial news and current affairs? A panacea.
  • Factual and documentary programmes in the private sector? Take a look at how HBO can do it.
  • Children’s television? No thanks. Good and bad children’s programming is spread evenly across the channels.
  • Classical music? Classic FM already exists. With the BBC taken out of the market, others would come into the market.
  • Little more? Nothing more.

As I have written before, the BBC should be privatized through BBC Worldwide. Given there are a fair number of people who would agree with Martin le Jueune that the BBC should provide these ‘public goods’ the BBC could also be made into a charity. This would allow those that believe in it to voluntarily decide to support its work and leave the rest of us as free as Jacqui Smith's husband to spend our money on other things.