The BBC is in many ways excellent (when you compare the quality of TV and radio in other countries, for example), but is nevertheless a persistent irritant with occasional outbreaks of festering sores. The priority given to football over everything else on Radio FiveLive is a long-term annoyance, as is the English bias of a supposedly British broadcaster (e.g. regularly giving preference to second-grade domestic English football games over Scottish, Welsh or Irish internationals of various sports). Their blatant and boring pursuit of a vendetta on Iraq is another persistent scab, particularly when their talking-up of opposition puts the lives of our troops in greater danger than need be, and drives the country towards more rather than less violence. Their liberal (in the American sense) bias, exposed by Robin Aitken and acknowledged by more independent-minded BBC journalists such as Jeff Randall, Andrew Marr and Jeremy Paxman, is perhaps the most egregious example of the problem that Hayek identified in The Intellectuals and Socialism.
My answer is that BBC1, Radios 1, 2, 3 and 5 and the various digital services should be privatised, leaving Radio 4, BBC2 and the World Service to produce high-quality programming that would not be provided by the market. All the talk of providing what the viewers want and giving them value for their licence-fee is hogwash. The market should provide what people want. If the government is going to tax us to provide something, it should only be for things we need but which will not be provided for by the market. It is quite clear from the various competing television and radio channels that the market can and does provide what BBC1, and Radios 1-3 & 5 offer - often better than they do. The BBC has to decide whether it is a commercial organisation pursuing ratings, in which case it should not be tax-funded, or a public service, in which case it should not pander to the lowest common denominator in the search for ratings. At the moment, they want to have their cake and eat it.
I admit this plan would not remove the bias, but it would dramatically reduce the amount we have to pay to support it. It would retain some of the pockets of individualism, such as can be found in the Newsnight team, to balance a reduced liberal majority. And it would expose most of those who are happy spoon-feeding the public with their sloppy metropolitan chatter to the reality of having to provide the public with what they actually want, rather than what the presenters want to give them.
The latest example of their unconscious bias was yesterday's reporting of the Budget debate on Radio FiveLive. Having suffered a recurrence of my chronic irritation, I was looking for fellow sufferers with whom to share sympathy, and came across a couple of excellent blogs that I have added to our blogroll. Biased BBC is the definitive site for recording examples of dripping-wet, state-funded reporting. Some Stuff is a newish blog with a wider interest than just the BBC or the media, but Ralph clearly shares my irritation with their partial reporting. I recommend them both to you.