The British government’s idea of making the BBC and Co. “British” may be stupid, but it’s legitimate. Usually saying “Nazi” about such things is not.
A former ‘press’ colleague Azizi recently published an article about the UK government’s will to require public service television to have a level of ‘British character’ in its productions. The former colleague noted: “Joseph Goebbels shook his head appreciatively from the grave?” On Wednesday, the Ministry of Information had already announced legislative proposals to “preserve what distinguishes British broadcasting”. It’s not about “Union Jack and the image of the Queen in every scene”, but about programming “that belongs to us and only us, and which can only be made in the UK”.
Fleabag, Derry Girls, Blackadder, The Great British Bake Off, and Line of Duty are named as examples. But more and more productions will appear “as if they were guided by an algorithm to maximize global target groups”. Public service television should “enable people in every corner of the kingdom to see themselves and their way of life reflected on screens.” The quality, spirit and identity of the British brand must remain vital – and our ‘unique values and identity’ and ‘things we are most proud of’ must radiate into the world.
The need behind it is clear: at the time of a breakup, to reproduce a cohesive feeling. But is this possible in a society as diverse as the British, where common reference fields melt like snow in May? Who is the gender fluid activist: In, a textile entrepreneur from Pakistan and a miner from Wales are proud of each other? James Bond stagnation? Explicitly Fleabag? And from everyday life reflected by Jane Austen?
It is rather clumsy. But Goebbels immediately? When, in 1933, he called on radio directors to “bring a national art and culture into the light of day that truly corresponds to the modern rhythm and modern sense of time,” it was a complete brainwashing and a reassessment of the satanic meaning of the sentence “Right is what benefits the German people.”
I understand any uneasiness about governments being “us” champions, and ultimately perhaps not shared values - but a legitimate and controversial concern even in liberal democracy. The common practice of trying to get what we don’t like out of the constitutional arc doesn’t seem legitimate to me.
The author was a deputy. Editor-in-chief of “Presse” and now Head of Communications for the Diocese of Vienna.
(“Die Presse,” print edition, September 19, 2021)
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