Entropy and the BBC
I tend to be sceptical of the rose-tinted nostalgia which encourages us to regard certain periods of the past as golden ages (reserving particular bile for the entire reactionary ‘Greatest Generation’ construction). I do genuinely fear for the future of the BBC, though. Partly the stakes are so high, so there’s much to lose. But mostly, free market bamboozlement is such powerful voodoo. There’s some form of tacit working assumption in all of us that — whether or not it’s actually of benefit to a wider population (as if that were a genuine question) — a deregulated, market-driven approach to broadcasting is an inevitability, and the very best that true public-service broadcasting (by which I don’t mean the pathetic parody which exists in the US) can do is delay it a little. Absent the Sysiphean consequences of catastrophes — World War II begets the British welfare state; the Great Depression begets the WPA — the slow slide away from a sense of collective good feels destined, a kind of universal entropy, which we ultimately have no control over.
Stephen Fry: The BBC and the future of broadcasting