I’m not given to fervent nationalistic (with a small N :-) pride, but I have often thought that the BBC is one of the high points of life in the UK, and something to be proud of — kind of like that other great and maligned semi-public body, the NHS. (Yes. I said it.)
Both receive constant scrutiny and criticism, often inspired by their fairly direct reliance on money straight out of the pockets of people like you and me, but both do a generally good job and enrich the lives of countless people, including me. In the case of the BBC, its reach is global.
I took a moment to tally up all the different ways I consume BBC content: RSS feeds from its news website, the website itself, radio (Radio Ulster and Radio 4) in the car, television as it’s broadcast (BBC 1, 2, 3, 4, News), TV and radio via iPlayer, podcasts based on various radio shows. Not bad for my 140 quid.
Of course the content of the programming can vary in quality, but much of it is excellent and it provides a great range of different kinds of content. The licence fee is controversial, but it works, and I suppose that not having to rely on revenue from advertising frees the BBC in many ways.
I suppose what I’m saying is let’s not take it for granted; where else can you find the pure entertainment of Stephen Fry visiting every state in America?