The Bbc As We Know It Is Signing Off

New media realities are forcing it to slim down drastically

It's a tricky business trying to change "Auntie." That's the nickname for the 74-year-old British Broadcasting Corp., and it rightly conveys the affection most British have for the publicly funded broadcaster. John Birt, director-general of the BBC, discovered in June how quickly the public would rush to Auntie's aid when he announced dramatic plans to merge the TV and radio operations--including the revered World Service. A roar of protest arose from BBC reporters, ordinary viewers, and government officials, all fearful that the BBC's standards would be hopelessly compromised. One member of Parliament denounced Birt for acting like some tyrannical czar.

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