"At the heart of every-thing stands one question: what should public media in the 21st century look like?"by David Patrikarakos / January 17, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Re-thinking the BBC: Public Media in the 21st Century, edited by Niki Seth-Smith, Jamie Mackay, and Dan Hind (Commonwealth, £0.99)
This excellent collection of essays begins with a simple premise: namely that “the media in Britain are not adequate to the task that they claim for themselves.” A bold statement, one might think, and so it is. But through a series of essays ranging from the interesting to the outstanding, various authors make the case for a series of reforms designed to create a BBC fit for the 21st century.
The essays range in scope and subject matter. Sarah O’Connor’s excellent discussion of coming into the BBC from a working-class background spells out much about what is wrong with the institution, while Chimene Suleyman’s analysis on the need to break away from minority group clichés is long overdue. At the heart of every-thing stands one question: what should public media in the 21st century look like?
As the editors Niki Seth-Smith and Dan Hind argue the Conservative government is committed to a specific vision of the BBC. It wants a corporation that runs alongside, rather than challenges, the market logic of private media, and that—above all—doesn’t cause too much trouble. Let it pay tribute to diversity, while continuing to produce a central consensus that sets a standard on which voices, and opinions, to exclude.
This is the existential threat the BBC now faces, and which this book seeks to address. And as Seth-Smith and Hind remind us: because the BBC “belongs to the public,…