I suppose I should turn on my television to say goodbye to BBC2 tonight. By the time this is published, I won’t have the option, as Cardiff leads the nation into analogue oblivion.
Because, shock, horror – I HAVEN’T CONVERTED TO DIGITAL. I put that in green caps. just to completely convince you that I am seriously eccentric, possibly mad. I don’t know anyone else who has held out like this. When I turn on my set tomorrow and see– what? blankness? fuzzy lines? – perhaps I’ll feel like someone seeing a solar eclipse while everyone else was looking the other way.
What explains this peculiar inaction on my part? It’s not lack of awareness, or of technological ability. I’m pretty clued up on both counts.
It’s not that I can’t afford a set top box. My annoyance at a society constantly forcing us to replace or upgrade perfectly good gadgets and appliances is only a contributory factor.
I just don’t watch much television. Over the last decade or more, my average TV watching has decreased to about 2 or 3 hours a week. Sometimes, weeks go by without turning on the box, and if it weren’t for rugby and nature documentaries, it would be less than that. I prefer reality to ‘reality TV’. There’s nothing on BBC2 tonight that would encourage me to watch it for the last time.
There always seems to be something more interesting to do with my life than watching television. Like live music or theatre if I want to be entertained. Less predictable, but much more exciting when it works well. Or doing something with my computer if I’m home: emailing friends, family and many contacts world-wide, doing work for organisations that I support, editing photos and film, planning a trip somewhere, even writing this blog.
Do I resent my BBC licence fee? Not at all. I’d be willing to pay it just for what my grandparents (little knowing how techie and cool the word would become) called the ‘wireless’. I listen to radio for 50+ hours a week. It’s on in the house and in the car. I can do other stuff while I’m listening and I listen almost entirely to BBC stations. Radios 2 and 3 for ‘specialist’ genre music shows, 4 for news, debate and drama, Wales for local information, news, traffic and more specialist music programmes.
Throw in the BBC web site and iPlayer and I’m happy to pay a few pounds a week, even though it’s the television that requires the licence. (As you may have realised, I can continue to watch TV on-line, so I do have a back up strategy until I can be bothered to get an STB or some other digital solution). Fans of Radio 6 and the Asian Network will be distressed at their proposed closure. However, I think the Beeb’s new strategy is broadly correct, doing more of the stuff that they do better than anyone else, or that no one else does at all. I’ve skimmed the 80 pages (!) and read the parts that interest me. I like the proposals for R2 , including “Shifting specialist and feature programming into higher-profile slots, including regular documentaries (on music etc), live concerts, comedy and jazz”. Moving the best of R6 to R2 and the other stations should deliver some really good and varied music broadcasting.
I’m also feeling postive about the technological direction the BBC is taking. After the wonderful iPlayer, comes Project Canvas, which will bring iPlayer functionality to your HD TV – it’s another reason to defer personal spending on, for example, HD Freeview. Read about these developments here.
Now I’m going to tell the BBC what I think about the proposed changes here – why not do the same?