Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oh Dear, Auntie!

It's always a nasty shock to the system to find that one's favourite auntie, the one you could rely upon to be truthful and who used to tell you bedtime stories, has turned out to be little more than a ten cent hooker in her real life. And a pretty dishonest one at that.
The crisis facing the revered British Broadcasting Corporation cannot be underestimated.
It takes years to build up a reputation for objectivity and integrity and a matter of seconds to lose it.
And it would seem that, judging from the alarming revelations of dishonesty in dealing with the public in recent years, that reputation has been cast to the winds by the actions of the production staff.
If you or I were as dishonest in our dealings with a paying public, we would find ourselves up in court in double quick time, but so far the only sanction has been a fine of £50,000 levied against the corporation for their despicable deception practised on children in the Blue Peter programme.
But wait a moment. Isn't the BBC funded by the licence paying public? If so, whose pocket is the £50,000 to be extracted from?
I think you all know the answer.
It appears that Caveat Emptor, “let the buyer see to it,” is replaced by whatever the Latin phrase is for “To hell with the buyer.” (perhaps better Latin scholars than I can help me out here)
That the Trust that administers the BBC have been so forthright in their condemnation is commendable but it hardly resolves the problem. The integrity has been lost.
The authority that earlier newsreaders could bring to their presentations, a confidence that the listener or viewer had that they were being given facts and not the opinions of some editor on the production team, has been lost – and will not be easily regained.
The root problem seems to have been that the corporation felt that, rather than being a service to the nation in return for their licence fee, they had to become an entertainment channel – and moreover, one that had to pursue ratings, leading it to pander to the lowest common denominator. Some of the appalling dross now on view can only be explained thus.
The British are always keen to ape the actions of America, usually the less desirable ones, but in this case they would do well to take a look at that little gem of broadcasting in the United States.
The Public Broadcasting Service is not only an admirable communication system for the dissemination of real news but is also entertaining. Even the BBC has broadcast the Prairie Home Companion series, a delightful show which is humour at its very best.
As Britain now has an American, Bill Bryson, attempting to clean up the trash left around so liberally by its citizens, perhaps the BBC should call in Garrison Keillor to clean up its own trash.
Continuous repeats of a Prairie Home Companion would be infinitely preferable to most of their current offerings.
And I don't recall them having any fake phone call-ins to Lake Wobegon either.


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