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We, the BBC

OurKingdom announces the launch of a new six month debate on the most important cultural and current affairs instution in Britain.

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
15 May 2012

A new Director General is being appointed to take over the leadership of the single most important cultural and current affairs institution in Britain, the BBC. It is a publicly funded institution, hugely valued and believed in, pushing hard into new technology with a massively respected presence on the web, from news to iPlayer.

It is also, arguably a last bastion of old Britain where public services were run with mandarin values by people who felt they knew best - and occasionally did even if, as often as not, they didn't.

Many of us have criticised the BBC for its 'regime' like instincts and softness towards corporate power. But it remains distinct from the marketplace. Only yesterday it drew the extreme ire of the Bankers' friend Boris Johnson. The new boss of the BBC, he frothed, must be a "Tory". Ha! The BBC was, surely, created by a real Tory, Lord Reith, who would have been appalled at the unconservative commercialism and lack of respect for tradition and the needs of open public access exhibited by the Mayor of London. And there is also something very significant in a blatent attempt to politicise the BBC by someone who has just positioned himself as a contender for Prime Minister.

What better time could there be to have a wide-ranging debate over the BBC you want and the UK needs?  The BBC we need as in 'We, the people' in all our pluralism.

As with the debate over the NHS, this goes to the heart of public life in Britain.

This is the argument ourBeeb aims to provide. It will have contributions from regular folk and what is left of the great and the good. It will use video and debate the role of culture and sport; consider the future for a digital commons and the nature of funding models; ask about the nations and the union and local media in the age of internet broadcasting.

As the BBC Trust figures out who it wants to put in charge of the BBC, we will be hosting a debate about how a democracy should be in charge of our BBC.

Edited by Dan Hancox and supported by openDemocracy the point of ourBeeb is to take the questions of the day and run with them  - with your help. You can see his initial list of questions and issues here.  

Whose Beeb? Our Beeb!

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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