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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Information, Education, Entertainment.

Listening to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, this morning, I was informed that the latest Director-General of the organisation, Lord Tony Hall, was announcing that he wanted to see changes in the Corporation.  He wanted, I was assured, to return to the days of "information, education, and entertainment."

All very well and good.  However, I do wonder who will be keeping an eye on the custodians of British Broadcasting?  "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" as the Roman poet and satirist, Juvenal, asks in his Satires.  I regret that a lot of the 'information' that I receive from the BBC is not worth the time spent listening to it.  The questions that are asked by journalists often seem to be nothing other than time-fillers.  Politicians, in particular, appear to be unable to give a straight answer to a straight questionThey have their 'Party-piece' prepared, and that is what they are going to say - that, and nothing else!  This morning, Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was asked repeatedly why he thought that UK house prices were so far above the former standard of 3.5 times annual salaries.  Perhaps I dozed off (I didn't!) but I am still awaiting his answer.  However, I think it was three times that we were informed that the Coalition Government's "Help to Buy" scheme would assist those who were able to afford mortgage repayments, but who couldn't save the required deposit,and didn't have wealthy parents to help them out (unlike, it seem, most of those in senior political positions!).  So much for information!  I would also mention that one has to be careful when listening to news and current affairs, programmes.  sadly, even the BBC is rarely neutral in its stance!

So, what about education?  There are, I would claim, some good educational programmes broadcast by the BBC on both radio and television.  Regretfully, they take up a relatively small spot on the 24/7 broadcasting schedule, and many of them are broadcast at what may be referred to as "unsociable hours".  Of course I am aware that most homes have recording devices, and much is available on iPlayer.  However, I doubt that I am the only person in the country who prefers to watch/listen to initial broadcasts.  I would also claim that a fair percentage of "educational" programming is either Open University, or travelogue documentaries.

That leaves us with entertainment.  It's a somewhat subjective word.  One man's humour is another man's boredom.  I know that when I hear clips from the average 'stand-up comedian', I am less than impressed!  I tend not to find most of the 'soaps' and their ilk to be particularly entertaining.  "Reality shows" are, to me, anathema; while watching people cook, with hair (and, in some cases, beard!) flowing all over the place offends me greatly on a professional basis.  Perhaps it's an age thing, but it seems to me that some of the 'oldies' can still entertain more than the 'modern' offerings.

So what will be different under the new D-G?  I would respectfully suggest to his Lordship that he go back to the inscription that was placed above the entrance of the original Broadcasting House.  It read: "This temple of the arts and muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors in the year of our Lord 1931, John Reith being Director-General. And they pray that good seed sown may bring forth good harvest, and that all things foul or hostile to peace may be banished thence, and that the people inclining their ear to whatsoever things are lovely and honest, whatsoever things are of good report, may tread the path of virtue and wisdom." (emphasis added).

Now, that would make a real difference to both programming, and to its overall effect on the nation!

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