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Mathew Strowbridge Headshot

The Last Days of the BBC?

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Somebody tell me what's going on. It seems that every day a new BBC executive is sent skulking to the butchers for a scalping. With two more keeling over on Monday morning surely it would save both time and dignity to erect a guillotine in the foyer of Television Centre whereby batch after batch of offending editors may form orderly queues as they await the chop.

There is a sense in the air (or at least in the press) that this is the era of the Beeb's existence equivalent to the last days of Rome. Turn up on a weekday morning and you will see greed, pomposity, and recklessness running riot through the corridors of Broadcasting House. Meanwhile, in George Entwhistle's resignation may we yet have witnessed the organisation's own 'death of Theodosius'. I'm still unsure why exactly the latest Director General was driven to sacrifice his own carcass before a salivating media? (Although, if the talk of hush money is correct, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't leap at the chance to fall clumsily upon their sword).

More entertaining, though, is every other broadcaster or media institution's eagerness to leap up and stick in the knife. (After all, that'll teach old Aunty for suckling so heavily on the license fee teat). I spy an irony is this.

Whenever a scandal about the Murdoch media becomes inflamed in the public eye, all papers that rely upon the fruits of his petty cash switch hurriedly to talking about the price of fish. Likewise, when Phillip Schofield exposes a list of alleged paedophiles on live television, the coverage endowed by ITN is, at its very best, a tepid sprinkling.

Had the BBC any sense you could imagine it beginning to cover up faster than a Muhajabah on Brighton beach in winter in the rain. This rising scandal would provide the perfect backdrop for some wall-to-wall coverage of Peter Purves's return to Christman panto in Harpenden. Instead, trust Aunty to whip out the flagellant and indulge in a session of corrective discipline.

To anyone who suggests that the Beeb needs regulation, I point them to any of the network's reels of current affairs programming. So little scheduling is left unsullied by the hours of earnest self-damning that if the current editors (whoever they are by the time you read this) wish to feature a second more, I fear a conversation to be shoehorned into this week's Archers so that Joe and Eddie Grundy can muse over Lord Patten's stalwart peremptoriness in the face of near conclusive untenability.

As if it were not enough for the network's own flagship Panorama programme to stamp hard with the jackboot as it peels away the layers around the Newsnight editorial team's murky cabal, John Humphrys's tougher than nails questioning on the Today it is unlikely that Entwhistle would have left as soon as he did. (Et tu Humphries? the outgoing DG must have thought as the Welshman thrust in the dagger).

The suggestion that the BBC is an out of control behemoth is a nonsense that should be left for drunken dinner parties. Unlike the rest of the British media, the BBC is the one organisation that already employs a heavy and unforgiving regulator - they simply call it the BBC.

Despite the hopes of some outspoken Pollyannas, there is no real chance that the world's oldest broadcaster is on the brink of disappearing into history. On the contrary, what I would like to see is a steadfast expansion of the corporation.

Don't forget that the government's plan for local TV services is still resting in the pipeline. With any luck the next Director General will snap up the chance to bid for each and every one of these. It is the perfect opportunity for Aunty to broaden her remit - and I hope indeed that she does, for I want more news about this Harpenden panto!