Peter Oborne’s very good and robust, albeit slightly meandering, defence of the BBC has a quite lovely quote on the organisation’s importance from Lord Reith, its founder:
It does not matter how many thousands there may be listening. There is always enough for others. It is the reversal of the natural law, that the more one takes, the less there is for others.
Elsewhere Oborne himself provides a very succinct description of why I believe the BBC is so important – because it’s:
[A] public domain: that common space, open to all, which is independent of both the state and the marketplace.
I think that, in a slightly obtuse and not fully considered way, this is also why I like churches, despite having no belief whatsoever in a deity. A church is a building, away from your home, that you can go into without having to buy anything, or indeed without having any specific purpose at all. It’s a space of being. Should the Church of England as an entity close down tomorrow, I’d campaign as hard to keep churches as public domains as I will to keep the BBC one.