I’m thinking of launching a new campaign to save the BBC.

My regular reader may be shocked at that news. And I cannot deny that I have been, and continue to be, one of the Beeb’s strongest critics.

And yet, far from wanting the nation’s ‘state broadcaster ‘to vanish – they hate that title by the way and strongly refute it – I am appalled at the thought of its demise. The BBC at its best is the very best of us all and what our nation can produce. I cannot imagine it not being at the heart of our national life. There, I have said it. But that doesn’t mean it cannot be chided, cajoled, threatened and firmly smacked back into line when it abuses our trust and puts at risk something we hold very dear, namely, the BBC itself.

This week there has been much talk of the future funding of the BBC. There are on-going debates in Parliament into the future of the licence fee – I gave evidence myself last week to a Commons Select Committee on the subject in my capacity as President of the Society of Editors. But it was the leaked (?) news that the broadcaster’s own focus groups had suggested scrapping the charge in favour of subscriptions that set the Birds of a Feather(s) flying (sad attempt at a Beeb pun).

Those groups had decided, it appears, that we were all willing to pay, say, 90p for an episode and £5 for a series of a BBC drama if the licence fee was scrapped and that this would easily cover the costs of keeping the Beeb going. I am by no means certain their maths is anywhere near correct (and what would an annual subscription to Eastenders cost?) but the BBC seemed un-phased by such theories.

Now, whether this was a clever ploy by the Beeb to raise a hue and cry and have us all rushing to the barricades in Albert Square to defend Strictly, I cannot say; but I have my suspicions.

(Certainly the announcement that comedy channel BBC 3 is to be scrapped – well, put on-line – to save cash appears to be a clever way of ensuring all those trendy comedians rush around bad-mouthing the government for swinging the axe – or am I just being too Sherlock over this?) Problem is, the BBC is truly treading on dangerous grounds these days and suggesting itself that it could go it alone without the £3.7bn it receives from the licence fee sets it up for a fall. At a time when its bias against the Tory party – and right of centre politics in general – has become blatant, and the scandals over high pay and blind eyes turned to abusive behaviour seem relentless, this is not the time to put forward an alternative it doesn’t really believe in. Politicians and others just might take them at their word.

We are not there yet, of course, and it will be a brave PM that sanctions a true selling off of Auntie, but those Birds of a Feather are beginning to look a lot like vultures. And that should worry even dear David Attenborough.