Patrick O’Flynn has an interesting take on the ongoing Lineker saga in the Spectator, suggesting it could accelerate the demise of the BBC. Here’s an excerpt:
I never expected staff at an entire department of the BBC to put their shoulders to the wheel of the campaign to bring about an early demise for the television licence fee. Yet that is what those working for BBC Sport have done with their rock-solid sympathy strike on behalf of Gary Lineker.
Of course, most of them probably don’t realise what they are doing. With many of the big names of BBC Sport being former professional footballers themselves, one should not expect a particularly exalted level of intellectual reasoning.
But if they help Lineker win the right to continue engaging in hyperbolic left-wing tweeting while being the BBC figure paid most loot by TV licence fee-payers, they will surely hasten the end of the compulsory fee.
BBC director general Tim Davie – effectively its editor-in-chief – has previously reminded Lineker about his responsibility not to compromise the corporation’s impartiality via his social media utterances. Lineker, by contrast, has expressed zero remorse for his latest infraction and has even pledged to carry on in the same vein. So it looks like a fight to the finish.
Let’s be clear: in his outburst over the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, the Match of the Day presenter did not merely say he was against the legislation and thought we should do better by new arrivals in the country.
He invoked bad faith and extremism on the part of those advancing or supporting the measures, branding them “beyond awful” and “immeasurably cruel” before even getting on to his ludicrous comparisons with 1930s Germany. This is, to use a footballing analogy (the only one this article will contain, I promise) tantamount to going in on an opponent two-footed and with studs showing.
Early polling from YouGov on Friday found that half of people support the core policy in the Bill – that anyone arriving illegally should be removed from the U.K. and not allowed to return, compared to 36% opposing it and 14% expressing no opinion.
So Lineker has branded at least half of those who fund his BBC wages via the licence fee as morally bankrupt and akin to Germans who went along with Hitler’s persecution of minorities.
There is no way that a compulsory universal licence fee can support that level of factionalism among its prime beneficiaries.
O’Flynn goes on to argue that a universal broadcaster is an obsolete notion in an era of such radical division.
We live in an increasingly polarised era when it comes to politics. Ideas that once commanded near-universal support, such as heightened compatriot obligation being the very basis of a nation state, are now actively and fiercely contested. In the case of the new legislation, that ferocity is even directed against the principle of it being reasonable for a nation to fend off illegal breaches of its borders.
We also have intensifying geographic and demographic-based concentrations of opinion on either side of this basic values divide. Anyone who had the pleasure of wandering round various London TV studios on June 24th, 2016 (the day after the EU referendum result) as I did, would have been in no doubt about the overwhelming preponderance of distraught Remain voters to be found within the broadcast media in general.
So the defenders of Lineker’s right to be politically partial, hyperbolic and abusive are in effect arguing for those of a conservative mindset to be forced to pay the wages of someone who insults them. If Lineker gets to win his face-off with Davie then by extension this will apply to many other left-leaning BBC household names too.
Can they not see that this simply isn’t a credible way forward for a broadcaster that is supposed, in the words of its recent promo, to belong to “all of us”?
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Saturday’s Match of the Day sans Gary Lineker saw its audience increase 23.4% compared to last week. Guido Fawkes has more:
Match of the Day was watched by 2.58 million TV viewers on BBC One. Up nearly half a million on last Saturday’s figure of 2.09 million according to the BARB overnights. This was the show’s biggest audience this year.
Worth reading in ful.