Everyone likes to call our system a democracy or a liberal democracy meaning that we misunderstand our system all the time. The ancient Greek word bears little resemblance to the system we have. There isn’t a great deal of direct democracy going on really is there? We are much more like the Roman Republic with its representatives and hierarchical power. Naturally enough when hierarchy is the basis of society and something goes wrong with an institution people start to look for solutions which suit the system itself rather than ones which fix the problem.
The BBC has had quite a time of it lately. The fallout from the Jimmy Saville revelations continues and last week senior executives had to attend Parliament for a committee meeting investigating the millions of pounds given to executives when they left the corporation. In the committee meeting MPs made it abundantly clear that they considered BBC Executives were lying to them.
This is of course money that comes from UK taxpayers. It’s only fair that someone take a look at how it’s spent. Just watching these snippets from the HR director is enough to make anyone angry although to be fair they were all a shower of shite so we shouldn’t just focus on her. Naturally enough the BBC haters came out in force demanding that the BBC Trust is replaced by the communications regulator OfCom.
There’s a structural paradigm at work with such arguments. It’s a paradigm that seeks to make people accountable, not to the public but to some higher authority. A structure and hierarchy is erected to monitor quality and standards. And then that body is run out of a government department or as a government agency. All the while the corporations being monitored get further and further away from the public.
But there are alternatives. I take the view that we should democratise every aspect of our society including broadcasting. The problems of the BBC aren’t that it isn’t being monitored and controlled enough by the powerful, it’s that the majority have no stake in the corporation. As licence fee payers we pay the money and then it disappears into a mega structure that we have no direct influence over.
If you’ve ever tried to make a complaint via the BBC website you’ll know just how hard it is to have any input into the organisation you own and fund; you just get directed round in circles. It isn’t going to get better by employing another set of suits to sit in judgement over it. Indeed it is the layers of management put in place over the decades that have brought us here. Watching the committee proceedings at length I started to wonder how many of these executives actually did a job that was truly needed by the corporation. None of them make TV programmes; Lord Patten was reported to not even own a telly when he became Chairman of the Trust. This shower of shite appear to get paid a fortune to arse around with our money.
The people need to be in control of their assets. If the BBC Trust needs to be replaced let it be by a committee of citizens. We have jury service; why can’t we have a committee of licence fee payers overseeing the BBC?
The first thing we can do when the BBC is democratised is scrap the bullshit of party political neutrality. Give us the full range of viewpoints and give us the facts.
- Ofcom ‘should not govern’ BBC (bbc.co.uk)
- Now BBC Trust is facing the axe as Patten admits: We failed in our duty to licence payers over bosses’ payoffs scandal (dailymail.co.uk)
- BBC payoff row: trust under spotlight of MPs amid reports of plans to switch off (theguardian.com)
- Sketch: BBC blame game proves a ratings smash (telegraph.co.uk)