Thursday, October 26, 2006

Out of Touch

The Guardian reports that the BBC's audience research reveals that many license fee payers feel that the BBC is out of touch with their priorities.

"They were concerned about political correctness, "stranger danger", the "death of childhood", lack of respect in society, law and order, local poverty, debt and poor maternity care.
But respondents also felt comfortable saying they did not care about Aids or Africa - highlighting a gap between local and global concerns."

The response to this from BBC managers is apparently to ask: "Should we, the BBC, be a pressure valve for that opinion? Should we help break the constraints of the PC police?"

It's not quite clear where such thinking would lead. It could mean spending license fee payers money on putting Richard Littlejohn on the telly more often, or on including more homophobic or racist comments in programmes to challenge political correctness, or Daily Express style investigations into abuses of the asylum system.

Obviously, I think it would be a shame if the BBC decided to proceed in this way. But beyond having to contribute to Richard Littlejohn's vast income through the license fee, to see this research as a clash between the liberal, politically correct BBC against a more conservative, Daily Mail reading 'moral majority' is at least in part to miss the point. "Political correctness" means very different things to different people, but it is certainly not the PC police which mean that local poverty, debt and poor maternity care are issues being ignored.

There is the chance for the BBC to try out some really positive ways of involving people more widely in setting its priorities. It would be a shame if instead it saw the problem merely as one of challenging 'political correctness'.

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