If you watched solely the six o’clock news you would barely know that the outside world existed unless some British football team was playing a bunch of johnny foreigners or there had been a devastating tsunami, volcano or earthquake.
To be honest you wouldn’t know much about what was going on in our own country either, unless it involved a celebrity or, in some way, the BBC itself.
For example, a former BBC presenter and journalist, Martin Bell, trips over a suitcase in an airport, smashes face first into the ground and requires extensive reconstructive facial surgery.
Now, had that been you or me we wouldn’t even have made the local news, let alone the national, but and it’s a big but, he was a former BBC man and therefore this made it important news to the navel gazers at the BBC.
On just one day last week I found three stories that should have made it onto the national news, but didn’t for reasons which only the BBC knows.
Firstly, the inspiring news that black and minority ethnic pupils from areas with grammar schools are more likely to make it into Oxford or Cambridge than pupils from state schools in other areas. On the face of it that would seem to suggest that grammar schools are tackling inequality, not reinforcing it, wouldn’t it?
Isn’t that the kind of news that ought to be getting out there to a wider audience, after all Oxford and Cambridge are routinely pilloried as elitist and it’s good to see another side of the picture?
On the same day, same paper, I read that SMART meters might not actually be saving householders money. Now there’s a surprise.
In fact, it says householders signing up now may not actually see any significant savings until 2030, and they’ll cost more than was expected.
This was in evidence to a House of Common Committee following a National Audit Office report that “technical problems” are likely to add £3 billion to the overall cost of the project.
And lastly, a small item which says that research has revealed that people who carry too much weight around their middle have smaller brains.
That is not the same as being less intelligent, of course, but it is startling information. People with a high body mass index and high waist to hip ratio had brains some 12 cubic centimetres smaller than people of a healthy weight.
What it doesn’t reveal is whether fat people’s brains shrink, or never develop as much, or whether having a smaller brain predisposes people to eat too much?
Charities responded by pointing out the links between being overweight and developing dementia and I would add, again, the link between being overweight and getting type 2 diabetes.
My point is however that all these three stories should be of wide interest and covered by the national BBC news, but they were not, they clearly didn’t fit the day’s/week’s/month’s news profile as selected by the BBC. And why not?
Let me suggest that firstly the BBC will not cover anything positive about grammar schools because it goes against their personal ethos. s
Secondly SMART meters are a good thing as they will save the planet so no criticism is allowed and thirdly well, we wouldn’t want to offend fat people would we. After all, it’s probably not that they eat too much is it. So the news is what the BBC chooses to report, not what is happening.
Roman Emperors bought the compliance of the populace with bread and circuses, the elite of this country, amongst whom I number the BBC, buy the numbness of the public with fast food take-away and trash TV reality shows and serials like EastEnders.
And whilst I’m banging on about the BBC, does anybody else think about the cost to us, the licence payer, of multiple journalists covering the same news.
I know Brexit is important, but what really could Helen Catt from BBC South-East add to what Laura Kuenssberg had already told us the other day?
It fits in with, “now we join our reporter” outside County Hall in Maidstone, which is closed, or outside a railway station in the dark, or perched atop the hill above the Channel Tunnel terminal, or Ramsgate or Dover harbours.
Take your pick, all you can be certain of is that it will be dark, they will be cold and we will be paying for them and camera team to be there to tell us something they could have told us from the studio.
I suppose we need to accept that the great British institution of the BBC is no longer fit for purpose, it is partisan in its news coverage and it spends money like water. It needs a complete overhaul.
Bob Britnell is the former principal planning officer at Canterbury City Council and now runs his own consultancy offering planning and conservation advice. He lives in Tyler Hill.