Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tories attack BBC - part of a pattern?

I can see a bit of a pattern emerging. On Monday the European Media Forum (EMF - led ultimately by Graham Mather, former Conservative MEP) attacked the BBC for having far too much money for their own good, causing a "badly bruised" commercial radio sector. Then on Tuesday, George Osbourne follows his boss David Cameron in attacking the BBC, saying they are "stifling the growth of innovative new companies that simply can't compete with the BBC". Blimey! Strong stuff. And a remarkably harmonious attack in concert with the EMF. The words are almost identical.

Of course, Cameron used to work for Carlton Television, so this is a specialist area for him. His former boss, Michael Green walked away with a golden handshake of £15 million. So there seems to be quite a lot of money sloshing around in a sector which is allegedly "badly bruised" and "stifled" by the BBC.

When one actually considers the huge success of ITV and BSkyB and the fact that local commercial radio stations have a 32.2% audience compared with Radio 1 and 2's 25%, it is difficult to work out what the Tories and the EMF are on about.

There are things that could be done to create a more level playing field in broadcasting. For example, there could at last be a couple of national commercial popular music channels on FM. And I am sure that the BBC could be leaner and fitter. But, please forgive me if I don't get my handkerchief out to join in the weeping at the terrible plight of the "bruised" and "stifled" commercial broadcasting sector which the Tories and their friends would have us believe exists.

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