The Jubilee Centre Blog

Shifting values at the BBC

Jonathan Tame   Posted: 13 November 2012

Keywords: Worldviews & Culture,

The woeful troubles at the BBC coincide with its 90th anniversary this week. Shoddy journalism, failure of governance and poor judgment have left the public reputation of the BBC in tatters. More than that, the moral standards of programming seem to keep falling. In the light of this, it's sobering to find out how the BBC Governors viewed things 80 years ago. When Broadcasting House was opened, this was the inscription at the entrance:

"To Almighty God - This shrine of the arts, music and literature is dedicated by the first Governors in the year of our Lord 1931, John Reith being Director General. It is their prayer that good seed sown will produce a good harvest, that everything offensive to decency and hostile to peace will be expelled, and that the nation will incline its ear to those things which are lovely, pure and of good report and thus pursue the path of wisdom and virtue."

One wonders for how long the staff and governors can go on saying that the BBC is the greatest public broadcaster in the world, when the values that greatness was built on have been rejected, and the moral compass they provided has been discarded.

Yet this inscription also offers us a sign of hope; British public life has not always been so secular, nor have godless values always been dominant in our media. As long as 'the salt has not lost its saltiness', we can pray and work towards the reform of our national life.

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A reading for Advent

"And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The silver [is] mine, and the gold [is] mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace"
Haggai 2v7-9

As the Jubilee Centre has faithfully reported for many years, every significant social institution has been "shaken". The BBC is just one being tested - and the words of John Reith from the New Testament are the plumbline. Let's pray that as the BBC moves back to Upper Regent Street that the glory of New Broadcasting House is greater than the Old.

David of the NUJ   3 December 2012

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