Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BBC as a Force for Smart in the World

Today is the 89th anniversary of the founding of the British Broadcasting Corporation, originally the British Broadcasting Company. Originally, a collection of interested parties, companies that were beginning to experiment with the new radio technology, with the intent that the communication across distance could be used to help foment peace in the world.

In the 50s, the beeb would make the move into television, but the radio would remain. The BBC world service is the largest international broadcaster, with programing in 27 languages that spans the globe. It is a voice of thoughtfulness that takes perspectives from around the globe and brings them together in insightful and provocative ways. In certain ways, it is the closest we have to a global village and it is one in which ideas instead of profit or propaganda are the rule.

I heard a heart-wrenching interview on BBC a few months ago with a British couple that had been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia while trying to sail around the world. They had been imprisoned and separated from each other. When asked how they kept their sanity, the answer was the BBC world service. As they recalled hearing the annual choir concert in the Christmas broadcast, they both broke down and you realized just how powerful good radio can be.

Happy birthday BBC, and despite the nefarious efforts of Rupert Murdoch and David Cameron, may you have many, many more.