The end of the BBC?

The BBC faces its 100th anniversary. Will it still be around to have a 200th?

The Prime Ministers’ Chief of Staff Dominic Cummings has written much about the need to transform the BBC and expand the ideological space for the right. His thinktank wrote “There are three structural things that the right needs to happen in terms of communications… 1) the undermining of the BBC’s credibility; 2) the creation of a Fox News equivalent / talk radio shows / bloggers etc to shift the centre of gravity; 3) the end of the ban on TV political advertising.”

There are big questions about the justifiable value of the licence fee. The UK’s impartiality rules improve the quality of coverage, but they don’t apply to other online outlets. The BBC’s impartiality rules mean that any party that wants to get their message out through it on television can do so. It tends to give everyone a hard time regardless of their orientation. (I know that there have been some exceptions but usually.)

By comparison, when there is a free market, media organisations can choose who they want to support, as we see with *sigh* Joe Biden on CNN.

In terms of pure political advantage, the right would be better off with a marketplace dominated by conservative outlets, which could be achieved with the ending of impartiality rules. This happened in the US under the entirely bad man who killed the American dream, Ronald Reagan.

This is already the case in the newspaper market. Notably the internet news sites and YouTube are not dominated by the right. The UK political internet has a broad range of outlets and it is hard to argue that the internet is dominated by one ideology or political party. So a lack of impartiality rules does not automatically mean the dominance of the right in every market.

TV news decisions can’t decide elections alone, although they can certainly be a contributing factor. Donald Trump still became the Republican candidate despite being opposed through most of his campaign by all stations. Although perhaps he reflected a deeper bi-partisan news ideology of nationalism and fear of the other that has been reproduced endlessly for decades.

In summary, the BBC probably will not continue to exist in its current form. This will likely be to the BBC’s and Britain’s detriment. But this is the Tories’ and Mr Cummings’ moment. Other opportunities will come. For now, let us mourn briefly for the hope that once was.

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