Alan Dee: Would we all vote for an election blackout?
I do love the BBC and happily cough up my licence fee, which by any reckoning is one of the biggest bargains around.
It doesn’t matter if you think that Radio 1 is a migraine waiting to happen, that you’d have to be strapped down with your eyelids wired open to endure Strictly Come Dancing, that any two blokes in smart casual shirts would be able to do as good as job as the overpaid apologists on Match Of The Day, you can’t escape the fact that you get a whole raft of TV and radio stations, a wonderful website and a growing archive of material from yesteryear available at the touch of a button, and no ads – well, not for paying customers – and it still costs less than £3 a week.
In my language, that’s a pint. It’s easily worth a pint, isn’t it?
But while I am reluctant to put the boot in when the Beeb is doing a good job of gnawing its own arm off in the wake of the Savile revelations, I am not blind to some of the failings of this august organisation.
And my biggest gripe, particularly at a time when everyone is tightening their belts and cutting back, is the ability to go over the top about something that doesn’t really merit such a reaction.
Don’t get me wrong, this summer’s Olympics coverage was great – but would we have noticed if there had been just a little less of it, available just a little less readily? OK, it was a once in a lifetime chance to show what could be done, so we’ll let them have it.
But why, pray, do we get through the night coverage of nothing much happening every time there is an election?
A general election? Well, you could argue for it. Local government elections? I’ll accept that the coverage is not quite as colossal but there is still an army of correspondents out there doing a job that nobody really wants done. If so few of us can be bothered to turn up to vote in the first place, why do the Beebmeisters believe that there is a hunger for up to the minute news as the results come in?
Quite how the election troops are planning to cover the polls for police and crime commissioners later this month remains to be seen, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a squad on standby to bring us blanket coverage.
And it doesn’t even have to be an election in this country to get the Beeb bandwagon rolling.
Those of you who have been following the race to the White House will know that it’s too close to call, and as a consequence it was pretty unlikely that there was going to be any clear result as the polls closed.
No matter, say the Beeb big event boys – when the leader of the free world is being elected, we’re going to be all over it like a rash. We’re going to be there to see history happen, even if it doesn’t.
Here’s an idea – the Beeb always spouts on about being responsive and in touch with its audience.
The technology is there, so how about setting up an online ordering service for big events like this – and unless enough licence-payers sign up and say they’ll make use of it, we can wrap up the whole thing with a couple of phone calls and save the cash spent relocating vast teams of correspondents across the Atlantic, or anywhere else in the world.