The 20th Century was the golden age of the BBC. It was a global media behemoth that in fact one can argue that the BBC was the world’s first truly global corporation; reaching even the remotest parts of the world via transistor radios way before Coca Cola made it to every corner of the world.
The above analysis may not hold pin point accuracy but it paints a picture of the power the BBC held in the 20th Century, and still holds to date but with multiple competitors and a different media environment.
The BBC was so trusted that people in post-colonial Africa for instance had to tune in to BBC world service to know what exactly was happening in their country as they distrusted their own state controlled radio stations. If you heard something on the BBC then it was true. Either that was a psychological fact people had bought into, or it was actually the high ethical standards of BBC at the time.
Come the 21st century, multiple players in broadcasting, print, FM radio, and then the Internet!
The distrust of the internet has only risen sharply as the internet becomes a force for change in all our aspects of life but even more so in the world of news, media and information.
Throw in a few major political events and how the BBC covered and presented them to the world and people start to become suspicious and doubtful of the impartiality of the BBC.
While no one doubts that the BBC has some of the best programming when it comes to nature, sports, science, music, culture and documentaries, many people are careful and suspicious when it comes to BBC politics.
During the Scottish referendum, Brexit referendum and the 2017 General elections, the BBC was tried and tested to the very core. Every news story and angle it pushed out was analysed and scrutinised by a media and tech savvy audience. The millennials for instance are the most distrustful of the BBC, they are very tech savvy and prefer to compare different news sources before coming to a conclusion. But even non millennials protested against the BBC’s coverage of Brexit and the General Election campaign.
Yesterday, Twitter was sent buzzing by a single tweet from Philip Pullman.
He tweeted: “I’m amazed by how many people hate the BBC. The same BBC that’s just broadcast a wonderful proms Beethoven Ninth, among so much else.”
What followed were tweets explaining how people felt about the BBC and hardly was there a positive tweet. They all blasted the BBC with some claiming that they would happily stop paying for the TV license fee as they feel that they shouldn’t be funding an unbalanced and unfair media establishment.
However, most noted that they were happy with the BBC’s coverage of the arts, sports, documentaries, nature and science. It was politics that set people off.
Perhaps BBC should stick to the proms and Attenborough’s Wild Life Documentaries?