What is the purpose of the BBC?

Posted in Badiou, BBC, ideology, Media, Žižek by Deputy city editor on July 25, 2007

I have ranted for some time that the bias of the BBC is principally for its own self-preservation. All the drivel it emits might service some cultural assumption or another of the BBC’s staff, but the idea of the BBC is basically that there should be a BBC. Most of those who spend their lives complaining of BBC bias – Zionists, eurosceptics, fox hunters, etc., etc., etc., etc. – are merely annoyed that it does not share their biases. But these biases are incidental, unimportant and boring. The point about the BBC is its self-obsession. Its imperative is that there must always be a BBC. This is why it spends so much of its time telling us how much we love it (while maintaining a private army of inspectors to prosecute welfare mothers who are short of £135.50 for the TV licence).

I am delighted to stumble across a theoretical underpinning for this thesis from Slavoj Žižek in his forward to Peter Hallward’s Badiou: a subject to truth. Citing Richard Dawkins, Žižek reminds us that genes are not a means for the reproduction of living beings, but the other way around.

Žižek says ideology should be viewed the same way and framed by this question:

“What is the ‘utility function’ of an ideological state apparatus (ISA)? The materialist answer is this: The utility function of an ISA is neither the reproduction of ideology qua network of ideas, emotions and so on, nor the reproduction of social circumstances legitimised by this ideology, but the self-reproduction of the ISA itself…However, from time to time something emerges that cannot be reduced to this placid logic of survival and reproduction: an event, an engagement for a universal cause that inexorably follows its inherent necessity, disregarding all opportunistic considerations.”

Obviously I am delighted to discover that my theory on the BBC can be substantiated and affirmed by reference to Badiou. Now, all we need is the event that will reduce the ideological state apparatus. I rather doubt that current events, involving merely the defrauding of its viewers and the traducing of the monarch, will prove sufficient.


One Response

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  1. Colin Wilfred Holland said, on July 25, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    There is not the political will, nor the capabiities / talent within the BBC to undergo the changes that it will need to make in its culture and vision for the 21st century.
    Hence its survival mode will increase in strength, and as with the Russian Communist Party its own survival will strengthen as its paramount duty.
    However under the current system and qualities, declining viewers and listeners are what is to be expected in the coming 10 years, with a knee jerk reaction to license fees, further deterioration in quality and balance, and reduced membership by people migrating to services that better meet their needs.
    The forthcoming BBC ipod system is a case in point on the BBC thrashing around for new revenue streams while not being conversant with the market in technology.

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