85 years of coverage: We should be proud of the BBC
Six years ago, the BBC ran an extensive campaign to promote its brand. Unlike those of other broadcasters, the budget of this project wasn’t blown on paying C-list celebrities to stand in front of a camera and beg viewers to watch programmes.
Instead, they played thirty-second long highlights from the BBC’s recent history. One ad featured a courageous BBC News team filming from a battlefield in Iraq. Another replayed the dramatic winning moment from the previous year’s Wimbledon final. My personal favourite showed a scene from a little-known BBC comedy commission called “The Office”.
These golden televisual titbits were followed consistently by a single, modest phrase; “this is what we do”.
And that is what they do. The BBC has provided unbeatable coverage in every popular genre, across every mainstream medium, for over 85 years; comprehensive, impartial news coverage, the greatest live sporting events and ground-breaking entertainment commissions for the best part of a century.
All this comes at a considerable price for you and me, though. A compulsory subscription fee is controversial in any economic climate, but with the current austere outlook, the TV license is more questioned than ever before.
Is £145.50 a steep fee? Of course. Is it worth it? Undoubtedly.
However, open up some newspapers and you’ll probably read otherwise. Vast numbers of commentators, on both the political left and right, like to criticise the BBC. Scarcely does a day go by without an all-guns-blazing article throwing all it can against the broadcaster.
A friend suggested to me last week that those who are writing the most aggressive attacks on the organisation may be doing so because they have made unsuccessful job applications to it over the years. This might be true, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve been turned down by the Beeb before. Nonetheless, I still recognise that it’s a fantastic institution.
The latest example of a BBC-bashing vendetta was only a few weeks ago, as guns were aimed from every angle against the broadcaster, and shot quite a few times. I admit that the BBC’s jubilee river pageant programme didn’t make for outstandingly interesting viewing. It was the aftermath that I, personally, found fascinating.
“Annihilation” is the word that springs to mind. The post-jubilee coverage in the press was pretty bizarre. The criticisms of the BBC’s hours of live programming were lengthy, yet the actual coverage of most papers consisted of a single photo or two.
I would be lying if I said I was engulfed by the live broadcast coverage of the event. However, eight hours of live, non-commercial television was placed under immense scrutiny by the same titles that took a few photos and wrote about what the Duchess of Cambridge was wearing. It’s almost incomparable.
The BBC never responds, though. It doesn’t send out its big names to scribble down aggressive editorials in response. Instead, it lets the content do the talking. And it wins. Every single time, without fail.
This weekend, it was my honour to head to Hackney, as BBC Radio 1 put on its biggest ever event. I wasn’t alone - 100,000 people joined me. I saw Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jack White, Nero, will.i.am, Ed Sheeran and Kasabian for the grand sum of £2.50.
I explored the exhibition of contemporary arts with the knowledge that no other broadcaster on the planet would have the will or the ability to put together such a gigantic event for such a minute price. It was nothing short of a spectacle to see so many young people having an amazing time.
Well over half a million viewers tuned in this weekend to watch performances in Hackney on BBC Three; an achievement for any digital channel. When you consider the barrage of criticism the BBC faced after its jubilee coverage, one might expect people to have been queuing up to compliment it in the press after this weekend. No such luck, I’m afraid.
Let me be one of the first in this environment to congratulate every single employee at the broadcaster who was involved in the project. Be it breakfast DJ Chris Moyles, producer Helen, soundman Dan, or the hundreds of other staff members, they should feel immensely proud of the work they put in.
Let’s stop the mudslinging for a second. Admitting that the BBC is a fantastic organisation is not voicing an opinion. Whether you like it or not, it’s a fact. I’d be saying precisely the same thing if it was a private organisation.
Next month, the world will be watching Britain through the British Broadcasting Corporation. As the Olympic home broadcaster, the BBC will be showcased like never before. I, for one, will be proud with the knowledge that a media organisation in my country is making such a great impression.
After all, this is what they do. Day in, day out.
Callum Jones is a political journalist and editor of The Noticeboard Daily.Tagged in: bbc, chris moyles, coverage, Hackney Weekend, jubilee coverage, olympics, television, the office, tv license
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