David Cameron writes for The Sun today about the future of the BBC. He declares himself a "rare creature — a lifelong Conservative who is a fan of the BBC" – and goes on to list the BBC output that he enjoys. The thrust of the article, however, is a complaint about BBC bias and its economic behaviour:
The fact that Mr Cameron’s words appear in The Sun will be provocative to the BBC who will see the Tory leader currying favour with the Murdoch empire; which has long resented the BBC’s privileged position in the UK media.
Mr Cameron mentions a reduction in the licence fee once the costs of the digital switchover are complete. Much more likely to change the culture at the Corporation is the end of its monopoly control of that licence fee. Jeremy Hunt has proposed that a small portion of the licence fee should be passed to another broadcaster (we hope that it would be a new broadcaster along the lines proposed by Peter Whittle rather than, say, Channel 4). That idea, we understand, has become bogged down in the party’s policy-making machinery. Jeremy doesn’t mention the change in his ‘three things that need to change post’ for CentreRight.
Mr Cameron is right to defend the idea of public service broadcasting but he now needs to show that he has the will to bring some competitive discipline to the Corporation. That is why the ‘Hunt reform’ could not be more important.