And so it begins. Another call for the BBC's licence fee to be scrapped, this time from the glorified wanktank of the Adam Smith Institute. (Why they didn't simply dig up Adam Smith's corpse and skullfuck it instead is beyond me - it would have achieved pretty much the same outcome without having to publish so many neoliberal 'papers').
As ever, the Beeb steadfastly covers the story, like a turkey writing a particularly unbiased article about Christmas dinner suggestions. (It's to their credit that they do so, of course, though just for once I'd love them to do a spectacularly partisan article or report sticking two fingers up to the critics.)
They'll probably do a Have Your Say on it as well They've even done a Have Your Say on it as well, so that a few chimp-brained fuckknuckles can say "Wurgggh, I hate the BBC, cut everything! I don't like the fact that the BBC is running a forum where I can say that the BBC shouldn't be running a forum" and so on.
Here comes Big Society. Big Society was one of David Cameron's most feeble and hard-t0-sell policies during the election campaign, but like any bad boss who thinks they've had a good idea, he won't let it go. That swimming pool that's closing down? Labour spent too much, you can run it for yourselves if you like, for no money, seeing as you've got nothing better to do. That youth project that's closing down? Labour spent too much, you can run it for yourselves if you like, for no money, seeing as you've got nothing better to do. And so on.
Do it yourselves, or it won't happen at all. Of course, people are very accepting of the need for cuts - that argument appears to have been won, rightly or wrongly - and so an awful lot of them are going to happen, needlessly or not. People seem willing to take the bad medicine in the hope it's going to make them better. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.
And so to the BBC - a state-funded broadcaster who dares to provide programmes, news and things that people like, with a world-class reputation. And which is, therefore, next in the firing line. Of course, the neoliberal Coalition aren't behind this latest report, but no doubt we'll see a trickle over the coming weeks and months. A campaign is being prepared.
It might be too cynical to imagine that this will be not entirely unadjacent to the feverish campaigning for David Cameron conducted by the BBC's commercial rivals during the election. I think it's probably the case that the shock doctrine Coalition don't like the BBC anyway - it smacks of big state and not big society, and therefore it must be shown to be wrong. A successful BBC, or NHS, or anything, means that state funding is capable of being the right solution - this isn't a question of what works and what doesn't. It's a question of blind belief in a particular type of solution - the 'big society' neoliberal solution.
Of course we don't need 'big society' to step in where broadcasting's concerned. I don't think the Tories will close down BBC1 and say that we're more than welcome to have a bash ourselves, if we like, so long as we're prepared to pay for all the programme-making ourselves. But the arguments will begin.
The 6Music and Asian Network debate was just the start, though that was a self-inflicted wound that meant the BBC was itself buying into the 'cuts are inevitable' narrative. But now the whole operation is going to be put under the microscope - not just by the likes of the Adam Smith Institute - although they will of course be the kind of people only to happy to provide the justification and the relevant ammunition - but by the BBC's direct competitors in the media, the people who really have something to gain from their popular and much-loved rivals being broken up, or sold off, or made into a subscription service, or whatever.
The arguments are beginning now, and they're only going to get stronger and louder. If you do like the BBC and don't mind how it's paid for - and I don't remember any political party campaigning very much about this at election time - then you're going to have to get ready to fight for it. Big Society means things like the BBC and its funding method must be seen to be obsolete, outdated, unnecessary... if you disagree, you must be ready to challenge these assumptions.
The first place to go might be that BBC Have Your Say discussion, then. It's already filling up with dozens of commenters who say they don't want the BBC to be funded by anything other than subscription, and they don't even watch the TV anyway. Is that what you think? Maybe it's time you made your voice heard, too.
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