2012 really has not been a good year for the British Broadcasting Corporation. From the scandal surrounding Jimmy Savile to the latest Newsnight controversy, this year has been one the BBC hope will be quickly forgotten. The resignation of George Entwistle after just a few months in the job only confirms too many what was widely speculated before his departure, that the BBC is in deep trouble. With old ghosts as well as new problems haunting them, is the demise of the public service broadcasting giant inevitable?
It is important to note now that allegations of the BBC being corrupt is not a new phenomenon, infact, they have existed as long as the institution has. Criticisms of the BBC being racist, sexist and politically biased have long tainted the image of the corporation. So what exactly makes the latest mistakes so catastrophic to the name of the BBC? It is the loss of public trust they have generated. The BBC’s flagship current affairs program’s accusation of an innocent man being a paedophile without proper investigation is outrageous and has only added fuel to the flame that the corporation is anti-conservative. This alongside the growing knowledge around Savile’s life and the fact that some of his crimes occured on BBC premises is sickening to say the least. To be extreme you could go so far to say that our TV licenses have funded these disturbing events, and that is what angers many about the BBC.
The BBC needs reforming if it is to survive; there is no argument that it does not. The broadcasting giant has been lucky to dodge other huge controversies in the past such as its “sexing up” of the Iraq war or its failure in representing the multi-cultural country that funds it, but these and many more of its failures are returning to the spotlight.
Controversies are not the only problem the BBC has right now. For years nothing has been done but watch as listeners by the hundreds were lost on the radio, meanwhile American television networks like HBO continued to produce shows that the BBC have not come close to competing against.The BBC for too long has said what it produces is the best just because it was made by them, but the fact is that in the BBC is no longer the broadcasting icon it once was and has not been for some time now. You only have to watch the latest episodes of Eastenders to see just how far the BBC standards have dropped.
While the BBC have some soul searching to do and changes have to be made, not everything is doom and gloom. There are many excellent BBC journalists still bringing great stories to the public’s attention and they do still produce some exceptional films. But the BBC is no longer the world’s envy of broadcasting and needs to change radically to prosper again. As much as I would like to see the BBC crumble just because I am slightly sadist, it is incredibly unlikely it will happen. As a former BBC chairman once said, “The BBC is part of the glue which binds the United Kingdom together. At those times of national moment, of joy or sadness, in the UK or around the world, at times when the nation wants to celebrate, mourn or just enjoy itself. People turn to the BBC”.