A majority Conservative government was the nightmare of Europe’s largest public broadcaster…and it has finally happened.
This reality is sure to be the fight of the century, as Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron had not even finished announcing his new Cabinet, when the British press declared the two would be at war.
According to the British media, the appointment of John Whittingdale, a Conservative stalwart and former advisor of Margaret Thatcher, as the minister overseeing broadcasting policy, was the “opening barrage in what will be a brutal fight.”
Despite, the somewhat comically overrated fight, The BBC will have to tread carefully. Emerging from a Tory government, lasting five years, may change the entire look of the public broadcaster.
Though the corporation is editorially independent of the British state, relying on 3.7 billion euros of its annual 5 billion euros budget will make negotiations to say the least, difficult. Oh and let’s not forget this is the same party that has accused journalists of left-wing bias and promised voters no increase in their contributions to BBC.
After Whittingdale’s appointment was announced, the front page of The Daily Telegraph thundered, “Tories go to war on the BBC.” Meanwhile, the Times proclaimed, “Cameron’s shot across the bows to the BBC.”
The BBC’s programming consists of nine TV channels, 16 radio stations and on the most heavily trafficked news websites. As promised by the company, it is expected that the quality of programs will suffer, as around one billion euros have already been slashed from their budget, by the previous government. Still, the broadcasting company attempts to retain its universal, compulsory license fee, which it argues is best mechanism for funding its services.
However, unlike his predecessors as Culture Secretary, Whittingdale is allegedly knowledgeable of the issues affecting the broadcasting company. Claire Enders, founder of Ender’s Analysis recently told Politico, “It is by far the best appointment that the government could have made.”
Lord Hall of Birkenhead, The BBC’s director-general told the staff of the debate that is sure to take center-stage and proposed the debate be met with confidence. According to Politico, he concluded saying, “The BBC is a treasured national asset, but it of course cannot be immune to change.”