Over at Labourhome, Northern Monkey raises the perennial issue of the BBC licence fee. One of the comments to the post suggests that instead of this arcane curate’s egg of a tax, we should ask someone along the lines of Bill Gates to set up a trust fund to run the Corporation (no exposés on underhand sales strategies from Microsoft expected there then). The idea of a trust fund is actually quite attractive – as long as we didn’t expect it to invest in stocks and shares. In which case, what would we expect it to invest in?
Nevertheless, the alternative – ring-fencing monies from the general income tax burden – would never work in practice. All governments, whatever their political persuasion, would inevitably be tempted to exert pressure – whether implicit or overt – on the daily running of the BBC‘s news operation. This has happened in other countries such as Spain. It would happen here if we followed that model.
These days, we do, however, need the BBC to continue the job it does, whatever its funding structure. Not any more because of those beloved adaptations of literary classics or those made-for-TV series which filled our winter evenings. Rather, because of the many and multiple channels it now uses to distribute its context-enriched content.
Mainly because of the Internet.
If you want to read the news first, read Reuters. If you want to read around the news first, read the BBC. And if you want to understand the news best, find a solid and intelligent community of bloggers which uses all those resources to good and questioning effect.
The BBC has a licence to print content. And long may it continue to do so.
We all need and depend on that content. Whatever our political persuasion.