The BBC is part of our national fabric
I’m old enough to remember how the launch of ITV in the fifties was meant to spell the end of the BBC, so I read Issue 526’s ‘Question of the Fortnight’ (‘Will Netflix kill the BBC?’) with a sense of history repeating itself. On the surface, the threat posed by Netflix now, with millions of subscribers worldwide, may seem much graver. But the type of threat is the same – commercial TV challenging public service broadcasting.
As it happens, I do think the threat of Netflix is more serious, but not because of how big and rich it is. What worries me more is how young people are abandoning the BBC, and changing their viewing behaviour.
When ITV and, later, Sky launched, viewers still knew the BBC was just one button tap away on their remote control. But now it seems millions of youngsters don’t even consider the BBC to be part of their viewing options.
I don’t want to sound like a cheerleader for the BBC. It’s far from perfect, and often deserves harsh criticism. But it’s part of our national fabric in a way that I fear younger people don’t appreciate. We lambast it now, but we’ll miss it should it disappear.
Sadly, the BBC can be its own worst enemy. In your article you quote the BBC saying it wants to help bring a divided country together. That’s a ridiculous claim, sinister even. BBC bashers will accuse it of being smug and self-important. But without it the UK would be culturally diminished. Stephen Howe
CA says Over the years few subjects have provoked more debate in Computeractive than the future of the BBC. Do you agree with Stephen that the BBC is a vital part of British culture? Or is it becoming increasingly irrelevant in the age of the internet?