The British government’s idea of making BBC & Company “Britishness” may be silly, but it is valid. Not in the habit of saying “Nazi” about such things.
A former “press” colleague whom I hold dear recently posted an article about the UK government’s desire to require public service television to have a level of “Britishness” in its productions. The former colleague said: “And Joseph Goebbels applauded from the grave?” On Wednesday, the media ministry actually announced legislative proposals “to preserve what is special about British broadcasting”. It is not about “the picture of the Union Jack and the Queen in every scene”, but about programs “that are ours and only ours, which can only be made in the UK”.
Fleabag, Dairy Girls, Blackadder, The Great British Bake Off and Line of Duty were named as examples. But more and more submissions will appear “as if they were guided by an algorithm for maximizing global target groups”. Public television should enable “people in every corner of the state to see themselves and their way of life reflected on the screen”. The quality, spirit and identity of the British brand must remain important – and “our values and our unique identity” and “the things we are most proud of” must be broadcast to the world.
The need behind this is clear: to reproduce the sense of oneness that stays together in times of separation. But is this even possible in a diverse society like the British, where common areas of reference melt like snow in May? What is a gender fluid activist: a garment entrepreneur from Pakistan and a Welsh miner have mutual pride? James Bond volatility? Clarity of Fleabag? And whose everyday life does Jane Austen reflect?
Rather clumsy. But Goebbels immediately? When in 1933 he called on radio directors to “bring a nationalist art and culture to the light of the day that truly matches the modern pace and modern spirit of the times”, it was about total brainwashing and re-evaluation in the satanic sense. was in The sentence “exactly what is useful to the German people”.
I understand any unease about governments as champions of “our” end perhaps not so common values – but it is a valid and debatable concern even in a liberal democracy. The common practice of trying to push what we don’t like out of the constitutional purview doesn’t seem legitimate to me.
The writer was a deputy. Editor-in-Chief of “Press” and now Head of Communications for the Archdiocese of Vienna.
(“Die Presse”, print edition, September 19, 2021)
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