more on the bbc

9 Jul

Sunder Katwala has posted on the BBC at LC, and in the comments the debate has become a libertarian vs. lefty affair. As someone who considers himself a liberal in the classical sense, I have a somewhat complex position on the Beeb, as I explain in my comment ::

I think it’s okay to be broadly libertarian (certainly being a civil libertarian who is in the main economically liberal), and not be tied to dogmatic interpretations of libertarianism.

My personal position is that the BBC has its fingers in too many pies, and prevents entrepreneurship in certain media sectors. Personally I think it can be a little dumbed down and extensive, but on the whole it has an important function.

Spend a few years travelling, and even if you have only a passing familiarity with the local language, you’ll observe that BBC content is fantastic in comparison to the absolute dog-shit most nations suffer.

I would like to see much greater dislocation of government and the BBC and a reduction in the BBC’s budget. Let me put it simply… Less Jonathan Ross and his astronomical salary and more foreign correspondents. Less Chris Moyles and his astronomical salary and more original radio drama.

The BBC is too populist, which means it encroaches on content happily paid for by advertising and subscription based providers. The BBC should be about empirical information, supporting young creatives, and education.

The BBC should not be starved of funding. It should go on a diet and re-address its constitutional remit. It shouldn’t be vying for every listener in a competitive market where it has an uncompetitive advantage. It should provide a cultural and informational bedrock which will continue to enrich the British experience.

Maybe this prevents me from being a fundamentalist libertarian, but I’m comfortable with that.

I think too many libertarians have a quasi-religious approach to all things, which utterly dismisses the nuances necessary for us all to exist together. Some things are simply worth it, regardless of their ideological conflict with any ‘ism. I believe in state-provided education. I also feel that, while the NHS is too extensive and unwieldy, there should be some healthcare provision for those that need it (with caveats tied to behaviour and cost/benefit). Look at private healthcare in the US. I know it’s hardly a libertarian model, the private sector is hardly efficient, is it? Admin costs in US healthcare dwarf our own.

As I stated in my comment, the BBC (and the NHS for that matter) is hardly a perfect interpretation, but there are some things that the private sector does appallingly. Look at the dross news coverage on network TV in America – where foreign bureau are being closed and correspondents are being sacked every year. Information gives a nation a comparative advantage, and I for one would like to see many parts of the BBC’s journalistic and cultural output continue long into the future. Even if that means I’m not a very good libertarian.

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2 Responses to “more on the bbc”

  1. sunnyh@liberalconspiracy.org July 9, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    Look at the dross news coverage on network TV in America – where foreign bureau are being closed and correspondents are being sacked every year.True, though the cable channels are quite good at national political coverage admittedly… apart from Fox that is.

  2. sunnyh@liberalconspiracy.org July 9, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    Look at the dross news coverage on network TV in America – where foreign bureau are being closed and correspondents are being sacked every year.True, though the cable channels are quite good at national political coverage admittedly… apart from Fox that is.

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