It’s been another rotten week for the BBC. But it’s also the start of a week which could remind the BBC’s natural supporters of one of its key strengths.
The resignation of the chairman came after weeks of speculation over his future.
Of course, the chairman is not responsible for editorial decisions. But even the impression that he may have been a political appointee is damaging.
For those who want to believe there is right wing bias in all of the mainstream media, it seemed like proof.
Others worried the chairman was being sent in to “sort out” the BBC by Boris Johnson – just as they worried that the planned privatisation of Channel 4 was also about taming journalism.
But there is a distinction between wanting to ensure that public sector appointments are made in the appropriate way and accusations of bias in journalism.
As a general rule, those who want to see bias will always find evidence to fit their conclusion.
And those with a long memory know that governments of all hues have accused the BBC of bias against them at various points in time.
What really matters is what the broader public think. This is why it is so important to ensure the chairman enjoys full public confidence. He is a figurehead for the corporation’s independence.
But against this row, a significant part of the public are looking forward to Saturday and the Coronation.
In 1953, of course, support for the monarchy was close to universal.
Today polls indicate that significant numbers are either not interested or want an elected head of state. (That is especially true outside England.)
Somehow the BBC has to do what many would expect of it at a moment in history.
Get the tone wrong and there could be real trouble.
My own sense is that the ratings on Saturday will serve as a reminder of what most of the BBC’s supporters rightly expect of it.
Many who may not consider themselves royalists will no doubt still want to watch the ceremony and a moment of history.
It should be a reminder of the BBC’s power to bring diverse audiences together and our shared collective experience.
Indeed if that is not the single most special role of a major broadcaster in a fragmented society then what is the point of it?
The BBC can bring us together – whether we are cheering King Charles or simply wish to see the ceremony.
And no doubt it will attract far more viewers than ITV 1 no matter how good their coverage is.
PICTURED: Richard Sharp and St Edward's Crown. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.
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