Whither the BBC? Stick ten Brits in a room and ask them what still makes Britain great, and they will overwhelmingly answer - the BBC! At least that's what the papers will tell you. Don't believe a word of it. I've actually tried this and I got some interesting answers; including 'gardening', 'fair play' and 'table manners'. No-one said 'the BBC'. Mind you I admit I may not have got their full attention, but that's what you get when you phone people up during EastEnders.
Admit it, you owned one
Admit it, you owned one
Where was I? Oh yes - Auntie. British Telly Is The Best In The World, as we all know. The only reason it's stuffed full of American sitcoms, science-fiction repeats and soaps, is that we need to encourage the Yanks in their early efforts, and besides, the programs are quite cheap. Cheap is important; it's common knowledge that the Beeb represents tremendous value for money, and always has done.
But value for money is getting surprisingly expensive. In 1996 a TV licence cost £86.50. Today it costs £142.50, up by a mere 65%. Don't complain; we now have a plethora of new channels. We have BBC3 featuring classic programs like F*** Off I'm Fat. We have more saccharin-rich children's channels and programs than you ever thought you would need, or could stomach. And we have ever-more exotic sports coverage. Who needs football when darts is so riveting?
It's not just TV either. No exploration of the BBC would be complete without reference to the radio output, which is terrific, particularly if, at a key point during an Ashes Test Match, you want to know the weather conditions in German Bight (where is that anyway?). And those Archers are as fresh as ever. Despite the theme tune. But the list doesn't end there. What about the enormous web-site, interactive TV, programs in Welsh, the BBC Micro?
Of course, an organisation that generates content free of dirty commercial interests is a noble thing. The tasty £719.6M that the BBC made last year from its commercial arm doesn't count, because it's mostly sales to Johnny Foreigner, so it's definitely still true that there is no commercial bias or pressure within our precious Beeb. So if you elect not to have a TV, you should just put up with the endless threatening letters1, outsourced to Capita, who are a private company; they don't have to be nice. Cough up. We know where you live.
1 - click this if nothing else - it's eye-popping