Media Medium
2 September 2000

BBC

Capricorn and the BBC'S national identity

The Media Medium looks for signs in Taurean Greg Dyke's
MacTaggart speech at the Edinburgh TV festival

" A new era of great British production...great British production in all genres ... great British programmes." Britishness runs like a litany through Greg Dyke's McTaggart Lecture, reiterating the hope that the BBC's distinct national identity may continue to single it out from the dozens of other channel offerings in the digital revolution. Presumably Dyke means multi-ethnic Britishness, not Englishness, although the BBC's Royal Charter horoscope (0h 1/1/27) links strongly to the quintessential English national horoscope, the coronation of William the Conqueror on Christmas Day 1066. Both horoscopes have an identical Capricorn Sun, making the BBC the cultural crown of the nation. Capricorns are traditional, reserved, dutiful ... the stuffy Beeb and the stiff upper lip.

Dyke aims to make this old Capricorn Auntie " more exciting, more gripping", but she faces the unanswerable dilemma of justifying a licence fee in an age of commercial channels. He wants universality - free, public service broadcasting - with channel genres and a creative environment for talented people. Will his strategies work?

Dyke's realistic, business-oriented Taurean nature (20/5/47) peppers his lecture with talk of cash for this and cash for that. With the Gemini Twins also strong, he should move deftly between public service broadcasting and commercial profit, from analogue past to digital future. The immediate prospects look good. The BBC has tremendous leverage with its vast programme content through pay-on-demand and IT related services. Radical changes can be expected in June 2002 when the Sun joins hi-tech Uranus, favouring creative outsider talent.

But there's something missing. Media today has the Jupiterian role once performed by the church or the law, providing ethical and spiritual authority, but this isn't the language of modern times. Dyke's Taurean approach suggests management, not vision. To hold its archetypal place in the nation's psyche, the BBC must take this on board, with Dyke or without him.

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