The BBC, much like the NHS, is flawed, but we're better off with it than without

The BBC logo at Broadcasting House in London Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The BBC logo at Broadcasting House in London Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

If funding for the BBC was scrapped, or at least significantly reduced, it would, on the face of it, be fantastic for the Eastern Daily Press.

It would mean one fewer rival for the best stories and exclusives and one fewer rival for your attention, your time and your custom. I'm sure we'd see paper sales positively affected and views to our website would definitely increase.

But, despite that, I'm massively against any measures, some of which have been outlined over past few days, that would seriously diminish the ability of the corporation to provide the level of service it is currently able to.

Don't get me wrong, I think the BBC is flawed in so many ways and it's only right the role it plays and how it is run and funded should come under review.

Bloated, over-staffed and perhaps even a little bit complacent in parts, are three criticisms I would throw at the organisation.

For instance, there has been many a time my journalists and I have been astounded at just how many BBC staffers turned up for a particular story. We've been left wondering if that really is the best use of resource? At times it also veers into territories and subjects it should leave for others.

But I'm entirely convinced that, in spite of these flaws, we're better off for having the BBC in our lives than not.

BBC Springwatch presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan at the Wild Ken Hill estate in west Norfolk

BBC Springwatch presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan at the Wild Ken Hill estate in west Norfolk - Credit: Danielle Booden

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For the purposes of this column I sat down and looked back on my interactions with the BBC over the past few days. They were many and varied. 

During that time it gave me live coverage of big events (BBC Online), daily national news and information (BBC online and BBC News), it made me laugh (BBC Comedy), it moved me (BBC Drama), it gave me knowledge (BBC Documentaries), sport's analysis (BBC Sport) and more than any of these it gave me the music I love (BBC Radio 6).

I would estimate the BBC took up several hours of each day in some shape or form and it's only when you sit down and track it all that you appreciate how much the corporation seeps into your life.

The debate over its future is, in many ways, similar to that of the NHS.

Both are historic, massive, publicly-funded organisations. Both cost a heck of a lot of money to maintain. Both are flawed in so many ways. Both divide opinion.

But both are, I believe, integral services for the people of this country and should be cherished and maintained, even if we also appreciate they are not perfect and can be improved.

Of course the BBC is unlikely to save lives in the way the NHS does. Its benefits to the country are probably less quantifiable than people would like - but there's no doubt it does bring benefits.

A first glimpse at This Time With Alan Partridge series two

This Time With Alan Partridge series two - Credit: BBC/Baby Cow/Gary Moyes

That's why it's an organisation respected and admired throughout the world. That's why it's something which defines this country and what it's about. There's not much at the minute for which other countries look upon us with envy. The BBC and the NHS are two of those things.

On a local level, whilst there may be a benefit to the EDP of not having the BBC around, it would be detrimental to the region as a whole. A strong, influential and varied local media makes for a strong democracy. Bring on the competition I say.

Of course none of this means questions should not be asked. It also doesn't mean the current funding model for the BBC is perfect and that the license fee should remain. That debate is one worth having.

And, if the cynics are right and this is a smokescreen from the Conservatives to move people away from party-gate, the whole debate could simply fade away. 

But, if there is to be a debate and there are to be changes, I would call for a cautious approach that doesn't undo the ability of the BBC to do its job and positively impact our lives.

As the saying goes, 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone'. I'd hate for that to be the case with the BBC.