Those of a certain age well recall the time when BBC radio didn't play "pop" music. Certainly not on the Home Service, and only for an hour or two on the Light Programme. We peasants were told pop was the Devil's Bubblegum Music, and contravened something called "public service broadcasting", which had been handed down to us on the tablets of St Reith of Establishment, and safeguarded for all time by the tithes of Archbishop Dimbleby.
So we all went off and listened to the pirates, which were crass and commercial and miles better than the BBC had ever been. Naturally, our socialist government responded by outlawing the competition, and nationalising Tony Blackburn.
Fast forward 40 years. All traditional broadcasters are under huge pressure from the new technologies; our socialist government can no longer stymie the BBC's competition, because ownership of a traditional delivery platform no longer confers monopoly power.
The latest radio listening figures confirm the trends: total listening hours are down a further 3% over the last year, with BBC R4 down by nearly 10% over the last 3 years and some of its "flagship" programmes in deep ordure.
In particular, the audience for the Today programme is plunging- 8% down in just one year.
Desperately the BBC blames "lack of news". But everyone knows the real reason. Even setting aside its preachy and tedious anti-market anti-American leftie enviro-arts agenda, it's just so lame. These days, news junkies- the traditional Today audience- get their fix on the net. And when did you last hear Today come up with an interesting debate that you hadn't already read hours/days/weeks earlier on the blogs?
In fact the only thing that's stopped BBC audience numbers collapsing completely is a £630,000 pa Radio 1 discotheque jockey by the name of Chris Moyles. Naturally, his success is the only aspect of the audience figures trumpeted by the BBC itself. Which is telling because by all accounts he makes Tony Blackburn look like...well, Lord Reith.
So there we are: £3bn pa of our taxes to subsidise a rising tide of bubblegum.