The BBC model

The BBC is an engine of the mind. It has become a national treasure and world resource because it has been given the creative freedom and political responsibility to attract audiences, tell the truth and be playful. Even if it sometimes fails to get the whole truth or gain our trust completely, at least we can argue that it should try harder—which is part of its glory: it is “ours,” not its shareholders. Indeed, the BBC is possibly more famous than Britain, (though probably less famous than British football). Such a standing cannot be taken for granted—it must be husbanded. In a world of turbo-charged media empires, reputation and power can shift dramatically. Yet in the shanty suburbs of Addis Ababa and out in Ethiopia’s rural villages, where there is a generator there is a café, and where there is a café there is a television which people pay small sums to watch. Standing in the smoky haze o...

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