Tuesday, 2 March 2010
And I thought the BBC couldn't get it wrong again...
Anyone that knows me will know that I go through phases of spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Unfortunately, not many of my culinary experiments are hugely successful, but I enjoy myself tremendously. I also end up feeding a lot of local homeless people on my cakes which have either risen too much, or not enough, or are too sweet, or to salty, or I've just got bored of the recipe while I was making it and have no desire to eat the result.
However, for the last month or so I have drastically reduced the time I spend in an apron. This is because my housemate decided to take his radio, which has always lived in the kitchen, back up to his bedroom, leaving me immersed in the cold and lonely sound of the extractor fan.
And what was it that I had on in the background? Well there was BBC Radio 4 quite often and the occasional bout of Gay Rabbit Station, which was kind of fun. But mainly it was BBC 6 Music. Not from any great loyalty to the station or because I consciously thought it was the best, but it is very listenable, it has an interesting variety of music and it makes your ears prick up every so often.
The news that my favoured radio station faced closure left me rather disconcerted as I walked to the train station this morning, especially as it came with the unpleasant news that the BBC plans to slash its online budget by 25 percent.
I have to say that the thought of “quality over quantity“ does appeal to me. In fact, if I were asked my opinion I might suggest cutting out BBC 3 altogether and allocating the funds to making BBC 4 available during daytime hours. But cutting 6 Music and the relatively innocuous Asian Network seems like a preposterous plan that will do nothing more than shift the public outrage from one aspect of BBC incompetence to another.
I am a fierce defender of the BBC. I believe it is a journalistic treasure and I only wish more countries would adopt the same government-funded model. I bear no resentment at paying my license fee and I even actively defended the exorbitant salaries that employees were getting paid – possibly to the detriment of my future credibility. However, ever the most unwavering of loyalties can be challenged and I cannot see a way around saying that this is simply a step too far.
Within months of a general election, the idea reeks of political interests and barely hidden commercial appeasement. In one fell swoop the BBC has short-sightedly cut out a huge demographic of consumers, obviously deciding that it is not necessary to cater for the very people they aimed to reach eight years ago when 6 Music was launched, along with other digital and online incentives which have subsequently been adopted by practically every private broadcasting company in the country.
Luckily as of yet nothing is set in stone, and I think we have the power to change the outcome. By all means, join facebook groups, email the BBC (firstname.lastname@example.org), march outside the headquarters if you have to. But please show them that we do care, we do matter, we do vote and it would be a huge mistake for the BBC to underestimate us.