THE BLOG

The BBC - Who Needs It?

06/04/2014 15:09 BST | Updated 06/06/2014 10:59 BST

Well I do for one. I'd be lost without Radio 4, BBC news and, in particular, 6 Music. On average I listen to 6 Music for at least three hours every day and it helps inform my Spotify choices on my daily commute into London. It's so refreshing to have a radio station that plays Johnny Cash one minute and Einsturzende Neubauten the next; 6 Music is a true triumph of the BBC and should be treasured.

Just lately there seems to have been a procession of celebrities and politicians queuing up to claim that they have the silver bullet to cure all of the BBC's ills. Sorry, what ills? I know it's a cliché but when you go abroad you really understand the value of the BBC. Suddenly you can't get the BBC, so you 'get it' if you see what I mean. There is nothing like the Beeb in the US. I was out there for SXSW recently and the news programmes are truly awful. Everything you watch is peppered with adverts that seem to last longer than the segment of programme that has just been interrupted. Fox news - dreadful, CNN - trite (or something that rhymes with trite). I was desperate to find some informed unbiased coverage of the missing Malaysian airliner, and all I got was repeated footage of police officers entering the homes of the pilot and co-pilot with the poorly veiled suggestion that they must have been in some way responsible for the tragedy.

I know the BBC isn't perfect for everyone, but how could it possibly be? The new director general of the BBC, Tony Hall last month announced that the arts would take centre stage across the BBC saying: "This is the strongest commitment to the arts we've made in a generation. We're the biggest arts broadcaster anywhere in the world - but our ambition is to be even better."

Great news and good on you Tone! I actually know Tony Hall from my days negotiating on behalf of the orchestra of the Royal Opera House and he was always a very approachable and conscientious man, even when relations between the union and the ROH became fractious. I have also met him in his new role at the BBC and have no reason to believe that the corporation is in anything other than a very safe pair of hands.

One of the most vocal critics of the BBC of late has been the TV presenter and ex-DJ, Noel Edmonds. If I understood the interview I heard with Mr Edmonds correctly he is offering to buy the BBC and run it in a more efficient way. Good grief! What a prospect. To be honest I think I'd rather see My Blobby running the BBC than Noel Edmonds. Anyway, we don't have to dwell on that because it's never going to happen. Sorry Noel, no deal.

Knocking the BBC has become a national pastime and it's an easy thing to do because there is no other license fee funded public service broadcaster to compare it to. However, next time you are anywhere outside of the UK and you want to remind yourself of how precious our BBC really is, just turn on the TV or radio, listen to the news or the sports programmes, spin through the radio dial - or buttons if you have DAB - and see if you can find a radio station playing Lou Reed, Hank Williams, Toots And The Maytals and Courtney Love all in one segment. You won't. Those of you who complain about the BBC, be careful what you wish for.