July 14, 2003

JIM BENNETT WRITES that it's time to disestablish the Church of the BBC:

The two principal models are the American one of privately owned networks supported by advertising revenues, and the British one of a tax-supported organization, the British Broadcasting Corp., governed by a politically appointed board, that is supposed to provide a "national" voice representative of the whole nation and its various viewpoints.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other Anglosphere nations tend to fall somewhere in between these two models, although the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. resembles the BBC substantially.

What is interesting about the two competing models is the way they echo, in certain ways, the differing approaches to the organization of religion that have historically held sway in each country. Interestingly enough, this parallel continues to be instructive today, as both the Church of England and the BBC are increasingly subject to debate over whether they should be disestablished. . . .

Today, both the Church of England and the BBC have lost their way. Not having to fight for the attention and donations of their congregants has permitted their worldviews to grow further and further apart from those who are required to support them. For a long time this disparity has been tolerated, partly because each institution had inherited a large store of moral credibility, which has gradually been squandered. Not surprisingly, the Church has seen growing discussion of the need to disestablish itself. Ironically, American churches, supported by voluntary donations, enjoy a far larger and more enthusiastic membership.

The discussion of BBC disestablishment, in contrast, has just begun. It is not quite yet a mainstream opinion or topic in Britain. However, it is a topic heard far more today than just, say, five years ago.

Read the whole thing.