Thursday, September 18, 2003

Don't Kill The BBC

Says Peter Hitchens in the Spectator.

"The time has come for sensible reactionaries to rally round their old enemies at the BBC, and for the BBC to seek support among those moral and cultural conservatives it has spent too long despising. Those who think that such an alliance would be as unprincipled and doomed as the Nazi–Soviet pact are mistaken. There is a real community of interests here, if only both sides would see it. Unless the BBC makes some new friends rather quickly, it will not survive much longer in anything like its present form. If it does open itself to people and ideas it now excludes and scorns, then it will become better as well as stronger. And if the BBC goes, the things conservatives really value will suffer. "

His solution ? For the BBC to drop its pretence of impartiality and encourage partisanship and open debate in its current affairs programmes - hence opening up the airwaves for cultural conservatives. I think he has as his model the late lamented 'Grilled On Both Sides' - the Sunday morning Talk Radio show which caused me to desert the Archers Omnibus after 20 years. Presented with the Labour MP Austin Mitchell, it was compulsive listening.

Only one problem - I just don't think the BBC are institutionally capable of reforming themselves. It just won't happen. They're like a much-loved dog suffering from an incurable and fatal disease that has to be put down. You know you won't ever have another dog like it, you know you'll be losing a friend and part of the family - but you still take that trip to the vet.

And the reason it won't happen ? A world-view which says that it would be better to be abolished by a future Tory Government than to admit that conservative ideas have any cultural validity.

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