Comment on “The BBC is under threat because its success challenges market ideology”

Imagine for a moment that television did what other industries did. Imagine for a minute that every program you watched was so good you wanted to pay money for it. If people want to pay money to watch it then your content is valid and worthwhile.

Commercial peak time television is rubbish placed to fill the space between adverts. As a result when people say “TV rots your brain” and “Television is a waste of time” and “Television makes you dumb” they are for the most part right. I’m thinking of those endless copycat programs. There is little program diversity on commercial television.

I love specific BBC content. I enjoyed watching DR WHO which is rather low brow. I also love the output by the BBC natural history unit, so much so that I have bought all of these documentaries. I used my dissertation exploring Cousteau and Attenborough documentaries as an excuse.

The BBC is a cultural icon of what Great Britain stands for. It produces thousands of hours of radio and television content. As the article points out people listen to 18hrs a week of content.

I used to like listening to the From Our Own Correspondent podcast/radio program but have lost the habit as I have changed from one mobile phone operating system to another. I also listen to more audio books instead.

Murdoch bullies ceaselessly for a subscription system, to shrink the BBC to the tiny size of America’s PBS.

It has taken Murdoch 25 years to get someone like Cameron in power to undermine and try to scuttle the BBC. I sincerely hope that Murdoch and Cameron fail.

The BBC needs to be preserved for two key reasons. The first reason is the cultural heritage. They have hundreds of thousands of hours of material that need to be digitised and preserved so that future generations may access them. By cutting costs and corners now we stand to lose thousands of hours of material which future generations have a right to access.

The second reason is the factual legacy of the BBC. As I studied the BBC’s factual output and specifically the BBC natural history unit I saw how they hired camera operators to shoot and document nature before it is destroyed. That documentary brings to life parts of life that our children may never see. Look at deforestation in Madagascar and look at Attenborough’s commentary when he went back. He said something like “This row of baobabs is all that remains from a tropical forest. These are the only trees that remain after loggers took away the rest of the trees”. He goes on to speak about Lemurs and how their environment has shrunk.

When I was working on my dissertation on the BBC output I started to think of various documentaries as volumes of an Encyclopedia. When documentary producers have the budget to produce a documentary like that of the BBC they can afford to spend weeks or even months to get that perfect shot. Think of the Birds of Paradise segment as one example or the mountain leopard segment as another. Think of the knowledge and information that previous generations had in books and how that knowledge is now in audiovisual form.

BBC documentaries are produced with licence fee paying money at such a high standard that they can then be sold as documentary collections to private individuals as well as to other broadcasters. Blue Planet, Planet Earth and other documentaries are currently on Netflix Switzerland for example. Well produced content has a shelf life. People want to acquire the rights. When the BBC produces high level content that others want to purchase they help fund future productions.

As a last thought documentaries that are made for public service broadcasting rather than commercial television are edited to be watched 52 minutes in a row. They don’t need to waste 30 seconds at the end and start of a commercial break to remind viewers of what they are watching. Murdoch is already using an old fashioned model. If you record content on your PVR for later viewing you might as well go to the netflix model rather than feed Murdoch’s disinformation machine.

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