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Babel

Why is the BBC in continual crisis? Because everything takes second place to"digital"

By Brenda Maddox   November 1997

Seventy-five years ago in November, under a wireless licence from the General Post Office, the BBC went on the air. Four years later a royal charter turned Britain’s first national broadcaster into a public service corporation. You might think, from today’s remorseless moves into one commercial activity after another, that the BBC was preparing to become a company once again. What else could explain the unending traumas being inflicted on what Lord Annan called “arguably the most important cultural institution in the nation?”

“Digitalisation” is the BBC’s current answer. Money must be saved, traditional practices jettisoned and services homogenised in…

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