You can’t choose whether to buy the BBC’s services. Anyone who owns a television has to contribute to its funding, whether they like it or not.
So the BBC makes a ripe target for criticism – including, sometimes, by commercial media organisations which don’t enjoy a share of the licence fee.
But the reason the licence fee has lasted this long is that there is pretty much a consensus that the BBC is worth paying for.
If it is funded collectively, through what is effectively a form of taxation, that reflects its status as the official national broadcaster – and one the nation is largely rather proud of.
We’re not arguing for a smaller BBC. We don’t want to see it’s funding cut or its remit reduced.
Alongside politicians from all parties and much of the business community, we’d be happy to see a bigger BBC which does more – more, at least, here in the West Midlands.
It’s been a longstanding complaint that the BBC’s drive towards a more regional approach has actually coincided with a downgrading of its presence in Birmingham.
Services have moved from London to Manchester, which has successfully branded itself as a “media city”.
But some other parts of the country have been neglected.
And now, the results of that neglect are clear, with estimates that the West Midlands economy would enjoy a £750 million boost to its economy if it simply received a proportionate share in BBC investment.
The West Midlands has a huge amount to offer broadcasters, as home to a number of leading universities and a thriving creative sector.
It also has plenty to offer filmakers.
The West Midlands is one of the most diverse and interesting parts of the country, from the melting pot of inner-city Birmingham to the Worcestershire hills that inspired Elgar and the historic towns and cities of Warwickshire.
From our point of view, it is important that Birmingham, Coventry, the Black Country and the surrounding shire counties receive a fair share of BBC investment – and not just for economic reasons.
The region needs to promote itself, and while we’re not quite as bad at that as we sometimes imagine we do need to do more.
The best way to ensure the BBC gives the region a fair showing on the nation’s television screens is to start making primetime television programmes here.