The BBC is under attack in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is interested in appointing a new leader for the organization who will “hold the BBC to account.” What that really means is Johnson wants to move the world’s pre-eminent public broadcaster to the right.
Absent independence — and remember the BBC’s charter requires it to be politically neutral — the BBC becomes little more than any other public broadcaster that is a tool for the government. There are many examples of that around the world.
Sadly, government leaders in those countries use television to suggest liberalism is anathema to the nation. There’s every reason to think we could see that happen in the UK.
A Guardian columnist addressed this problem well. And remember to pay attention to what liberalism is:
Liberalism, that is, not in a narrowly party political sense, but rather a liberalism committed to a set of norms that prioritises independence and fairness, that recognises the existence of verifiable facts, and that agrees that some institutions, such as the rule of law, are stable and enduring and capable of sitting outside of the hurly-burly of political disagreement.
The BBC sets a standard for news and cultural programming that ought to be celebrated, not constrained, inside the UK. Prime Minister Johnson has different ideas, and they are wrong.