Now the BBC has been getting a lot of stick recently. Whether it be over the fallout from the Jimmy Saville affair to allowing ‘extremists’ to air their views on TV following terrorist attacks. However the BBC is an institution that we should cherish at all costs, once it is gone we will never get it back

I have done much travelling, through Europe, America and Australasia. I can honestly say that the quality of programming that the BBC produces is almost unparalleled. In my opinion only HBO comes close to that level. But with the BBC and the range of content from News, Documentaries, Dramas, Radio, it is a simply stunning achievement. Other organisations may match it on certain areas but not all. Part of that reason is because we all (or almost all) in the UK pay to be a part of it. The Licence fee may not be always popular but for sheer value for money it is a price well worth paying. Knowing that it has a set income allows the BBC to experiment and invest in programmes that other networks simply would not touch.

Perhaps it is only since I have been away that I truly appreciate how important a role a public broadcaster plays. In America much of the News is of shocking quality. It has a clear political/commercial bias, poor presenters and sensationalism. Whilst no-one can ever eliminate all bias in News, etc, the BBC is the go-to place to find out the latest of what is going on in the world. Many a time I would glance at a fellow traveller’s laptop/phone to see them catching up with the latest headlines with a freedom that they could only often dream of in their home countries. The iPlayer is fantastic for those of us who have a life to live away from the box in the corner and demonstrates how the BBC is always looking to move forward.

I love the fact that I can watch a programme without the infuriating adverts interrupting the flow. I believe in competition and that the commercial stations need to make money but must they be so banal? And must there be so many sets of adverts in one break? But this annoyance pales into insignificance when compared to the plethora of adverts that infect American and Australian network TV. I swear in some hours you barely get half of that as the actual show you are watching. Worse still is when they increase the amount of breaks before the end of a programme.

You struggle to keep your eyes awake as you desperately hold on to find who ‘did it’ before hitting the pillow, exhausted thinking more about some cleaning product to buy than what creativity you just witnessed! Flicking through the TV schedules of endless reality TV or game shows, it was always a relief to find a programme with the BBC stamp on it. It is almost like a stamp of quality. You pretty much know that you will be informed, educated and entertained. Those founding principles are so important in a world that is desperately trying to sell you something every second, of every day. Of course the BBC is not immune to this either but boy I would choose a BBC programme over most other things on show. No one does a wildlife documentary like them (long live Sir David!) and they are the one place to turn to for information in a crisis. We should be proud that we are part of an organisation that is willing to air differing views, an organisation that covers lifestyles across the board.

Of course with any organisation of this size there will be problems. Management are probably paid too much and should take responsibility for gross errors. I am also not particularly a fan of the move to Salford, primarily because I think it is a huge waste of money. Yet I fear if we allow these negative points to engulf the BBC the best parts will be sold off to the friends of powerful people and we will all be worse off as a nation. Perhaps those who ‘hate’ it so much should spend some time abroad and see what system they prefer.

Obviously times and technology change. As Broadband technology evolves perhaps we will all become subscribers or pay for content as we download it. But I believe that will take away part of the fundamental nature of the BBC, it’s connection to the British people. It is our BBC, perhaps we and BBC management should start believing that.

It is a unique British institution that we all should be proud of. Like the NHS we should aim to fix it if broken, not smash it up to sell to the highest bidder.

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