Is the BBC in Peril?
This book is timely by design. Since the December 2019 General Election the Boris Johnson Government and the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, have made it clear that they have the BBC in their crosshairs. While “crisis” is a word that is frequently used in connection with the corporation, it is not exaggerating to say that this one is very serious; existential, even.
This book covers the full spectrum of views on the corporation. Within these pages there are the perspectives of BBC lifers, BBC bashers and BBC true believers. Leading television executives, media academics, prominent journalists of varying stripes, economists and politicians all have their say.
In addition to the Foreword “The BBC and the dispassionate interrogation of those in power” by Peter Snow, and the Introduction by Tom Bradshaw, the distinguished writers and commentators who have contributed to this book, with the title of their article, are:
* Will Wyatt – former managing director BBC Television and chief executive BBC Broadcast – “Just Imagine: the BBC is a broadcasting wonder and not to be discarded lightly”
* Iain Dale – presenter, the Evening Show LBC Radio – “Adequate reform of the BBC requires a Herculean effort”
* Peter Bennett-Jones – agent and producer – “BBC managers must stay one step ahead of the barbarians at the corporation’s gates”
* David Cox – former ITV producer and writer on media – “Protect the BBC’s purposes, not the obsolete institution”
* Gillian Reynolds – radio critic The Sunday Times – “The causes of the BBC’s real and present danger”
* Rob Wilson – former Conservative MP – “Time to face up and front up for the BBC”
* Owen Bennett-Jones – former BBC journalist and writer – “Life after the end of the licence fee”
* Richard Sambrook – Professor of Journalism Cardiff University. former Director of News BBC – “There is opportunity amid the existential threat to the BBC”
* Brian Winston – Lincoln Professor, the University of Lincoln and Matthew Winston ,the University of Leicester – “Is its news operation the chink in the BBC’s armour?”
* John Simpson – BBC World Affairs Editor – “The BBC will be different and smaller – but it must remain”
* Damian Reilly – freelance journalist – “In Defence of the BBC”
* Ivor Gaber – Professor of Political Journalism, the University of Sussex – “The BBC is biased, but…”
* Andrew Graham –former Master of Balliol College, Oxford – “With fake news increasing why kill a truth-teller?”
* Steven Barnett – Professor of Communications, the University of Westminster – “Does Johnson have a Willie Whitelaw?”
* Tom Bradshaw – academic and journalist, Senior Lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire – “Auntie on the Sports Journalism Dance Floor”
* Ray Snoddy – former Media Editor of The Times and Media Correspondent of the Financial Times – “The BBC in a political minefield”
* Fiona Chesterton –former BBC producer, editor and BBC/CHANNEL FOUR commissioning editor – “A Letter to the New DG”
* Simon Albury – former CEO, the Royal Television Society – Democracy – and not just the BBC – is in peril”;
* Jean Seaton – Professor of Media History,the University of Westminster – “Putting the National Interest First – Reimagining the BBC for its Second Century”
* Jane Martinson – Marjorie Dean Professor of Financial Journalism at City University – “Just how independent of government is the BBC?”
* John Mair – former BBC producer “Dom’s Dystopia 2027”
There are points of agreement, but there are profound points of disagreement. If the BBC is an important aspect of national life in Britain, then this book is, to some extent, a debate about the nature of national life in Britain today – the nature of democracy and its safeguards, the nature of culture, and the nature of digital technology’s impact on our daily lives.
In order to inform and stimulate a vital national debate, this book was curated in record time. Ten weeks from idea to reality between covers.