A commercially sponsored BBC?
Now here's a subject I can warm to! I was born with both British and Canadian nationalities and carry both pasports. For my sins(!) I married a French woman and lived for almost 20 years in a small corner of France. For the past 10 years I have spent most of my time in the southern West Indies (St Vincent & the Grenadines) and, for a change of pace, I'm now in Seoul, South Korea.
I have therefore been subject to television programming from many different parts of the world, but I am most familiar with television productions and culture from the UK, Canada and France as well as what passes for culture and content in the US.
In spite of all its shortcomings and its recent slide towards the depths of mediocrity (which slide was greased by the same slippery spin doctors who gave you the well known tragi-comedy called "The Blairite Years" - often confused with "the Lost Boys"!), I can say, without ANY doubt in my mind, that the BBC has provided viewers in the UK with BY FAR the best television compared to what viewers must endure in all the above mentionned countries.
For this, UK residents, you only have to pay a niggardly US$270 (that's Cdn $290, €200 (FF1320!), EC$740!). As an extra bonus, it all comes commercial free - and more importantly, it comes free of the contraints that are imposed on any and all commercial television producers who have to supply the viewer numbers to support the costs! Invariably those numbers are maintained at the cost of quality - not to mention interesting and innovative programming.
In Canada, in the mid fifties, the CBC was set up based on the BBC model and for many, many years it provided Canadians (and those Americans lucky enough to live within the broadcast range) with nearly equal quality programmes which covered a wide and varied range of subjects and interests.
At some point the bean counters in Ottawa intervened and it was decided to make the CBC "pay for itself" by introducing advertisements on Canada's national braodcasting service. The result is the relative disaster that is the CBC today - where "bums in seats" is far more important than good programming.
Much more difficult to assess objectively and definitively is the effect that a "commercial CBC" has had on its journalistic integrity but it's my opinion that it has suffered also. Simply thinking of the old saying about "biting the hand that feeds you" would make one tend towards this conclusion.
En bref - I would gladly fork over Cdn$500 (that's... but no...!) to have the old CBC back on air as a fully funded national braodcast service. The other commercial television operators in Canada would certainly welcome such a move and their programming would likely improve with the extra cash freed up by the CBC's removal from their ranks.
To my mind, the best way to do this would be to have the relevant legislation drafted in such a way as to "require" the government of the day to provide "adequate funding" to the CBC with the definition of such "adequare funding" to be determined by a neutral, non government controlled body. The benefits of this, I am sure, will be apparent to most people who, like me, crave decent television once more.
French television is OK and has some interesting programmes but (surprise!) it is nothing like as good as the Beeb for international coverage in a basically independant way.
As for American television I'll limit myself to saying that I've long felt that CNN should be brought before a "truth in labeling" tribunal for the misleading advertising apparent in their name!
"Cable News Network"? "CEN" would be more like it - "Cable Entertainment Network"!
"Switch over now to see that latest car chase in your neighbourhood"...
"Don't miss the latest sniper shootings - brought to you live and in colour (opps - sorry - color!) by our, greatest in all the world, reporters, stolen for your greater viewing and listening pleasure from - you guessed it - BBC WORLD!!!"
Networks who specialise in Law and Order (year 12 or whatever - with the occasional new face for variety - but don't dare change the plot!), or other gems such as CSI (place your own town's name here) - well they hardly need and further comments.
As for new ideas in American television, consider the American shows which were in reality copies of British hits of the past - and present! The list is long and covers several decades. Here are the names of a trio of British shows from the past - can you give the names of the American copies?
"Til Death do Us Part"
"Man About the House"
"Steptoe & Son".
Sorry about that - I failed to limit myself!
Soooo... as for the BBC - increase the funding, untie their hands, order them to ignore the expression "Politically Correct" and be thankful they exist!
Oooo... twas lovely to get all that off me chest!