Financial TimesFinancial Times

The BBC must go back to doing what it does best

By Camilla Cavendish

24 Jan 2020 · 4 min read

The UK government’s mulish boycott of the BBC Today programme has improved my mornings no end. Opposition politicians still trot out platitudes, but I can brush my teeth during those bits. In place of robotic ministerial declarations we have had in-depth reports from Iran and Australia, exposés of the bureaucracy faced by EU nationals trying to stay in Britain, and a poignant conversation between Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. Informed, thought-provoking, and distinctive — which is what the BBC ought to be.

Usually adept at lobbying, the BBC now faces multiple challenges: a search for a new director-general after Tony Hall this week announced his intention to step down; a prime minister who once dubbed it the “Brexit Bashing Corporation”; a row over equal pay which has had the incidental effect of revealing to the public that it pays its (male) presenters gargantuan salaries; and a Downing Street operation which is pushing to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, or perhaps even replace it with a Netflix-style subscription.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content