Monday, July 13, 2015

DCMS: The Next Generation

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale likes his culture macho - punk, heavy metal, horror films, and sci-fi. His favourite character in Star Trek is The Borg, not just a single person, but a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive mind. This comes from Star Trek: The Next Generation series, which came to tv screens when John was a manly 26, carying bags for Mrs Thatcher in her third election victory.

I am not familiar with The Borg, but according to Wikipedia, they were ranked 4th in a list of Nastiest Villains of All Time by TV Guide in 2013. Individual Borg rarely speak. Instead they send a collective audio message to their targets, stating that "resistance is futile", generally followed by a declaration that the target in question will be assimilated and its "biological and technological distinctiveness" will be added to their own.

We'll see if there are more comparisons we might offer when John 'Two Puddings' Whittingdale publishes his Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal on Thursday. Expect it to be very different from Tessa Jowell's offering in March 2005, which started from a very different premise to events of the last week.

"Through opinion polls, focus groups, public meetings and our website we got the views of thousands of listeners, viewers and online users. Their views – your views – were very clear. The BBC is liked and trusted by millions. Its services are valued and enjoyed. It is seen as having a vital role to play in news and in sustaining and informing our democracy. The principles of public service broadcasting (PSB), with the BBC at its heart, are widely understood and widely supported. And although people in their millions are embracing the rapidly expanding choices offered by digital broadcasting they still see the BBC as having a key role in the multi-channel future. If anything, people see maintaining PSB as more important, not less, as more and more commercial services crowd on to the scene...."

"The BBC should remain a cultural institution of real size and scope. It should not only be a broadcaster of minority interest programming. It should provide a wide range of different programmes to a wide range of different audiences. Only with this scale and scope can the BBC meet the ambitious public purposes that have been set for it."

"Three out of four people support the current range of BBC services and there are no plans to require the BBC to shut down or privatise any of them. But the size and shape of the BBC must be allowed to change over the next ten years as the market, technology, public opinion and consumer behaviour change around it."

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