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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Don't let Murdoch smash this jewel. The BBC must act to save itself

Jonathan Freedland
i don't agree that "Auntie matches the NHS in public affections",
but i agree with lots of his policy prescriptions for the future:
"So the BBC should not wait for a Cameron administration to act. It should move first, blunting its critics' strongest lines of attack. The bosses could reduce costs instantly, and visibly, by paying themselves far less. There is no reason why the director general, Mark Thompson, should be paid £816,000, as he was last year. He can't claim that that is the market rate, since the BBC does not operate like any other company in the market. His salary should be pegged to the rest of the public sector. If Gordon Brown can get by on £185,000, so should Thompson.

Next, the BBC can rein in its ceaseless expansion. It had every right to move online, but it surely cannot justify buying up the Lonely Planet travel guides. Again, its unique privilege is that it does not have to operate according to market logic. Which means it does not have to behave like a rapacious media giant.

Then it could do something really bold, fulfilling its public service remit by providing something the market is failing to provide. Local newspapers are dying or dead. Yet towns and cities across Britain need to know what is happening in their councils, town halls and police forces. The BBC has an army of reporters and offices across the land, unmatched by any other news organisation. Why doesn't it set aside a few millions to cover those unreported communities – then put the results into the public realm, "open source" style. Commercial radio stations could pick up audio of the council leader; a local paper could run a BBC-originated report from the court. If people are worried about state-run media let the BBC share the money with, say, the Press Association."

he's right to highlight the following sentance as pure pants:
"The final sentence of his speech declared: "The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit."

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