The BBC is a unique national asset. In my view, the independence of the corporation enables the nation to cohere around a fixed set of values that helps to define our national character. However, the BBC is far from perfect and – as the corporation itself has recognised – it does need to change. News output should be considered differently from the BBC’s other output, but its news output is not as fearless, independent or valuable as it could be. The unique way in which the BBC is funded enables it to cover news stories in a more considered, detailed way than it currently does and I understand the anxieties of those who consider that the corporation may be susceptible to political pressure.
In my view, the priorities of the BBC are often skewed. The regions appear to have broken broom cupboard TV and radio studios without monitors and speakers that do not work (trust me, I’ve experienced this too often!) whilst the TV Centre in London has seen no-expenses spared. That’s not fair – particularly not in Cumbria.
I support the BBC and I will work to protect it, but that doesn’t mean that I do not think that it should improve. As a country I think we need the BBC, but it is now time for the BBC to examine itself so that it can fulfil its important national role more effectively.