In the May 14th edition of the Daily Telegraph, London Mayor and columnist Boris Johnson laid criticism at the door of the BBC, especially when it came to reporting.
In the May 14th edition of the Daily Telegraph, London Mayor and columnist Boris Johnson laid criticism at the door of the BBC, especially when it came to reporting. Writing in the Telegraph Johnson said the BBC was ‘statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and overwhelmingly biased to the Left’.
I wish for a moment, to beg to differ. Even though I reside across the ocean, and while I respect Johnson’s view, I have no evidence to suggest that the BBC is what Johnson suggests it is. Rather, I want to put forward that the BBC is important, not just for democracy, but for culture, in the UK and around the world.
Media here in the United States has hit an interesting threshold. A majority of it is controlled by companies who thrive on ratings to ensure the profit of the company as a whole, and at times shows a lack in the quality in the connection that good content can have with an audience. The BBC has been popular in the US because of this connection, and that this distinction in quality shines in any comedy or drama. It is the impartiality of any news program that is seen that outshines much of the competition by American media. Americans value the BBC, and it’s evident everywhere.
I know this very well. When I was finishing the last of my high school education and preparing to enter university, I came down with a severe illness which as a result forced me to finish my schooling from home. Insomnia came as a side effect, leaving me to figure out what to do as my mom and sister slept. Not wanting to disturb them, I turned on my radio and tuned the dial. After miles of commercial radio station playing music by artists I likely have not heard of (but are now popular on the charts), I found out of the blue WBEZ, which is the Chicago station of National Public Radio, a US public broadcaster. Being the hour of 1am, they were simulcasting with the BBC World Service. I hadn’t heard it before, so I gave it a listen. I was hooked after that first night.
After I explored the World Service’s programs, I found the content heard in Britain but made popular internationally through podcasts through the iPlayer. That too was a treat, as it painted a refreshing content picture and became an alternative to the content much of the US was familiar to, from the World Service content to the Proms to Chris Moyles to the Today Programme to 5 live’s sport coverage and everything else in between. I kept listening then, and I still do now.
As I write this another milestone jumps out at me. Broadcasting House, where much of the BBC’s radio output is produced, turned 80 this month. The two BH’s, Broadcasting and Bush Houses, are the heart and soul of the BBC, and represent the dedication of its staff across its many networks, in buildings across Britain, over in New York and Washington, and around the world.
Johnson is welcome to say what he likes about the BBC. But when you get down to it, the BBC is still important. It’s an international treasure, and frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.