Wrong target 

31 March 2009 tbs.pm/1035

BBC funding should be cut, report says

We will restore science to its rightful place, roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

“President Obama couldn’t have been clearer today,” said the BBC’s science editor, Susan Watts. “And for most scientists, his vote of confidence would not have come a moment too soon.”

The only problem with this analysis is, er, he did not actually say that. The quote with which Ms Watts began her piece was a cut-and-paste job, according to the Guardian’s Organ Grinder. The way the remarks were reported, which was supposed to be a montage, have drawn widespread criticism from several quarters (the links in the Organ Grinder article and comments are a good jumping-off point to explore this further).

The Today programme on Radio 4 reported this morning that the “right-leaning” Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) thinks the BBC’s funding should be cut. Apparent, the Beeb apes the commercial sector too much and should emasculate itself into little more than a plug-filler for the gaps in the commercial sector. The CPS is wrong. Even in this multi-channel era, the BBC still has a lot to offer, in mass-audience content as well as niche material. Whatever its faults, it remains one of the best institutions this country has ever produced, and one of the best broadcasters in the world, and it would be a travesty for the Corporation to be reduced to a PBS having to hawk itself around for donations every five minutes.

The CPS would do better to concentrate on the BBC’s continuing need to make sure it speaks for the whole nation, regardless of faith, colour or creed, and that its news and analysis are not coloured by assumptions or informed by beliefs and attitudes that sizeable parts of the nation do not share.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
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