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The BBC’s big problem is its obsession with itself

16 February 2020

7:00 PM

16 February 2020

7:00 PM

One reason people are disillusioned with the BBC is its obsession with itself. Here is the text of a question asked by the corporation’s deputy political editor, Norman Smith, at a speech last week by the minister responsible for broadcasting, the Culture Secretary, Lady Morgan:

‘You say the BBC needs to adapt to the new streaming era…What I’m not clear about is why you think decriminalising or moving to a civil enforcement scheme in any way assists the BBC in meeting that challenge. Because the view within the corporation is that it weakens the BBC to the tune of £200 million a year, quite possibly more. In other words, it puts us in a worse place to meet the challenge, and doesn’t that just underscore the suspicion that really what is going on here is a bit of a punishment beating for the BBC, from a government that resents the attitude of the BBC, as they see it, in the Brexit referendum and the general election? It’s a bit of political payback.’


It literally does not seem to have occurred to Mr Smith that the Culture Secretary’s first job is to consider the public interest in how, if at all, the licence fee is collected. When an intelligent person prominent on the screens of a public-service broadcaster does not even see this point, the depth of the BBC’s culture problem becomes evident.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, which appears in this week’s Spectator


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