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Since January 1 1927 – or 18 October 1922 if you count its earlier incarnation as a private company – the BBC has been a British institution.
It is not just regarded thus in this country: worldwide the corporation has earned a reputation for probity and quality, its public service remit helping to avoid the bias certain other broadcasting organisations can fall prey to.
The DNA of Lord Reith , who guided the corporation through its early years, can still be seen running through its cells: impartiality is of fundamental importance in its news reporting, for example; and it seeks to educate and inform as well as entertain.
Like any favourite relation, auntie Beeb has negative sides: in her mental map London is eight times bigger than the rest of Britain; and since the 1970s it seems to have become the career of choice for self-perpetuating talent-challenged Oxbridge graduates. In the private sector many of their posts would not exist; but then nor would auntie's best creations. It also has a tendency to adore certain figures – the name Dimbleby springs to mind among many others – uncritically as worshippers do.
But when there is a national emergency it is to the BBC that we turn for news; the Today Programme at times filling the vacuum left when Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition lacks gumption. It still produces interesting programmes and occasional gems, though outnumbered by utter dross. And where we have a choice we would prefer to view our TV sport on the BBC, which resists the temptation to describe every third rate clash as ‘The Big One’.
Rightist politicians regularly attack the funding of the corporation – we all pay via our TV licences and through government grants paid from our taxes – but this country would be poorer without the BBC, for all its faults.

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Originality is a thing we constantly clamour for, and constantly quarrel with. - Thomas Carlyle
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On this day:
Battle of Dunbar - 1296, Battle of Carbisdale - 1650, Slapton Sands Friendly Fire Disaster - 1944, Abortion is legalised in Britain - 1968
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