Every day in the Guardian newspaper there is an “In praise of….” column. In support of this great idea that brings little known wonders to the public eye, I’m going to write my own for something that is widely known but so often under appreciated. The BBC represents the birth of British radio and later, television, but in bringing such a revolution to our country it now represents so much more.
Over the years business in our country has relied more heavily on marketing and advertising than the word of mouth that used to be used to solicit sales. With this revolution has come the pseudo acceptance that wherever we go and whatever we do, we should be accompanied by the advertising banner, the leaflet and the persuasive word. I say pseudo acceptance because in truth I think many of us wish we could choose not to accept it. To walk a street with out the banner, to read the paper without the persuasion. The thing is, there is in fact one small such haven left in this country and its name is the BBC.
Morning, noon and night the BBC are responsible for some of the most diverse programming in the world. There is news, comedy, drama, plays, music of all shapes and sizes and discussion in its most varied, intelligent and enlightened form. All of this is available on both radio and television, not to mention the BBC website which embodies many of the benefits of the more traditional mediums.
One little known fact about the BBC is that they also provide something called the world service. This allows British citizens, wherever they may be in the world, to listen to BBC radio and catch up on events that might affect them in a manor and language that is familiar to them. What citizens in any other country can boast that? In addition the BBC also provides many foreign language radio stations which serves to further strengthen their position as the ultimate broadcaster.
Its not about world domination though. The BBC is something special because its one of the few aspects of British heritage if you like that is still in full bloom today. If you wanted to enjoy an hour of classical music or catch up on the latest chart toppers you would only have to re-tune your radio and it would be waiting for you. Free of course from the salesman.
It saddens me when I hear comments from people who resent paying the license fee, or groan when it has to rise. Like the efficient and punctual nationalised railways which we lost to privatisation not so many years ago and now lament, the BBC will never return if we allow it to lose its funding and be canibalised by the advertising agencies.
What price should we put on such a service, on such an iconic symbol of our country? If I asked you how many cans of beer you would have to buy before they stopped trying to sell it to you, I think you might see that protecting the BBC is in fact priceless. So what if you have to pay an extra 20 pounds on your yearly license fee? Is it not worth protecting something that truly works in your interest when everything else merely works in your interest as long as it takes to make a sale? As I write this article and think about all the positive things the BBC gives us, I very much hope that your answer is yes.