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21 Jan, 2020 15:16

BBC faces existential threat. In the 21st century, it has nobody left to lie to

BBC faces existential threat. In the 21st century, it has nobody left to lie to

Whoever replaces outgoing BBC Director General Tony Hall, be sure that establishment interests will be in safe hands. But multiple scandals the broadcaster has been involved in damaged it quite possibly beyond repair.

The next director general of the BBC will be formally appointed by Sir David Clementi, educated at Winchester, Oxford and Harvard, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, chair of insurance giant Prudential, a former director of Rio Tinto Zinc, chair of Virgin Money and CEO of Kleinwort Benson. His grandfather was the governor of Hong Kong.

Be sure then that the interests of the establishment are in safe hands.

But in truth, the new DG will be picked by another public-school Eton-and-Oxford blue-blood, Boris Johnson.

For the BBC is a “state broadcaster,” just as much as the other “state broadcasters” in the world at whom they like to look down their noses. 

The government of the day appoints the guiding hands at the BBC who naturally pick PLU’s (People Like Us) to staff its upper-reaches. 

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Just in case, until comparatively recently, the Security Services maintained an office in the headquarters – Broadcasting House – in which secret agents secretly vetted staff programs and employees. Just in case. But as there has never been allowed to be a government of the day which actually sought to scrap the status-quo – on the economy, defence and foreign affairs – all of these prophylactics have been, strictly speaking, surplus to requirements.

In former generations, working for the BBC was rather like working for the Foreign Office or the Palace. A suited and booted army of ‘public servants’ whose allegiance to the establishment could be largely taken for granted. One or two mistakes had been made, of course.

The KGB spy Guy Burgess managed to land an important job there, right under the noses of MI5. 

A different kind of mistake was the appointment in 1982 of Sir Alasdair Milne as director general. Born in India in 1930, educated at Winchester and Oxford, Milne was as blue-blooded as the next toff, but he was also serious about public service and journalistic integrity. During his five tumultuous years at the top of the BBC, Margaret Thatcher laid waste to the miners and much of industrial Britain, fought a major war over the Falkland Islands, and established death squads in the north of Ireland and refused to budge as republican hunger strikers starved to death, the prime minister became increasingly apoplectic at Milne’s BBC being inclined to resist her Bonapartist tendencies. 

Thatcher dispatched him in 1987 at quite considerable cost to the long-believed fiction that the BBC was in some way ‘independent’ of the government.

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Destroying Corbyn at any cost

But the once-great ship of the British state, the BBC, has more recently run into much more turbulent waters – which they navigated with almost Thatcherite brutality. 

There were many and obvious reasons why the BBC and its hand-picked journalists and broadcasters were terrified of the possibility of a Jeremy Corbyn Labour government. 

There had never been such a government before, one which could not be relied upon to remain within the dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy. So they pulled out all the stops to kill it, no matter how reputationally damaging their conduct was. 

Corbyn had to be destroyed at almost ANY cost. Their news and current affairs output (and appointments) over the Corbyn era of 2015-2019 was as crude, and crudely effective, as any screaming, screeching Rupert Murdoch tabloid. Perhaps they were worried the ghost of Sir Alasdair Milne would return to haunt them in the form of his son Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s director of communications and strategy and right-hand man. The junior Milne – also Winchester and Oxford – is a considerably harder nut to crack than anyone the BBC had ever had to deal with before. If they were so worried, they were right to be.

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Money controversies 

But the biggest existential threat to the once iron-clad hegemony of the BBC will not be dispatched as easily as was Mr. Corbyn. Money.

Not just the money extorted from the taxpayer to pay for the ever-bloating BBC empire in an era when Netflix, Amazon, Sky and so many more are both demonstrating that other financial models are available and have become for millions of British families an additional expense on top of the once sufficient BBC.

I am not alone in currently paying the BBC licence fee whilst virtually never watching it. And I live in hope that my wife will never discover just what Sky Sports, BT Sports, Manchester United TV, Netflix and Amazon are costing us!

But the recent money controversies have revealed the taxpayer is being forced to pay second-rate entertainers and ‘personalities’, many of whom earn literally millions, are scarcely wanted, were never endorsed by the public, and who in any sane system should be working in the commercial sector. That some of the highest paid have been unmasked as paedophiles, sexual harassers, rapists and all round reprobates has damaged the BBC quite possibly beyond repair.

A state broadcaster which pretends it isn’t, duplicating hundreds of services already being provided by commercial broadcasters, paid for by the crudest of poll-taxes, where hooks and crooks and comic singers coin wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, has no place in the 21st century. For the BBC, there’s nobody left to lie to.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.