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Why the BBC matters: memo to the new parliament about a unique British institution

Barnett, Steven and Seaton, Jean (2010) Why the BBC matters: memo to the new parliament about a unique British institution. Political Quarterly, 81 (3). pp. 327-332. ISSN 0032-3179

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-923X.2010.02117.x


The new Parliament will be asked at some point to make critical decisions about the BBC's future at a time when it is facing full-frontal assaults from competitors who view the BBC as a major barrier to their own advancement. Whether it be newspaper groups seeking to monetise their online activities, commercial children's channels, terrestrial competitors or the owners of music radio stations, media conglomerates rail against the BBC's size and public funding with increasing regularity. Our aim is to remind our legislators of the vital contribution this institution makes to British life: from a journalism inscribed with values of fairness, integrity and impartiality—and valued throughout the world for its professional engagement with foreign affairs—to its creative commitment to British story-telling, music, comedy, arts and children's programmes, the BBC's contribution to our democratic and cultural welfare is immense. It is a beacon for Britain, which provides social glue for its citizens at a time of fragmenting audiences and identities, within a uniquely non-commercial space, accountable to both Parliament and its licence payers. It may distort the market, much as the National Health Service distorts the market for health care, but is held in high esteem by the British public and is admired throughout the world. This article explains why the BBC is a national treasure that underpins our creative economy as well as our cultural vitality, and argues that it must be protected from those who argue self-interestedly for its diminution.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design, School of
ID Code:9407
Deposited On:23 May 2011 12:30
Last Modified:23 May 2011 12:30

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