Saturday, July 18, 2009

Abolish the BBC

Non-British readers may not realise that we in the UK have to purchase a TV licence. This currently costs £142.50 a year. If you own equipment capable of receiving a TV signal, and you do not pay it, you could go to prison. It is, in fact, a tax on having a TV. Where does the money go? It goes to pay for the BBC.

Is that a good thing? On the one hand, we do get four TV channels and countless radio stations without any commercials. That in itself seems like a blessing at times.

On the other hand, there is also the question of political bias. I have touched on this already in other articles. Angry Harry drew my attention to this interesting piece in the Mail:

The [British Broadcasting] Corporation often takes its cue from the Guardian. The two organisations share the same values. As a privately owned newspaper, the Guardian is free to pursue whatever agenda it chooses. Not so the BBC. As a publicly owned broadcaster funded by the licence payer, it is supposed to eschew partisan or biased stories with a political agenda. Reference

Day after day, week after week, the BBC adopts the Guardian's Leftist preoccupations and prejudices. The relatively low-selling newspaper serves as the Corporation's brain, and many of the progressive causes it promulgates are taken up by the BBC with its far wider reach.

Other national newspapers, some of which sell many more copies than the Guardian, do not enjoy such honoured treatment.

In an article last weekend Peter Sissons, until recently a newsreader on the BBC, revealed how a couple of months ago he was instructed by a BBC producer not to ask Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, why the Queen had not been invited to the 65th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. The reason given was that it was a Daily Mail campaign.

To his credit, Mr Sissons went ahead, and asked the question all the same. But the point stands.

A Guardian campaign would be adopted unthinkingly by the BBC. One by the Mail, even though it may reflect the concerns and interests of a far larger readership, is a no-go area in the minds of BBC bosses.

The point here is not about newspaper rivalry. The Mail can doubtless look after itself without a helping hand from the BBC.

What matters is that the public-funded organisation, with its enormous and, in some areas, near monopolistic power, should embrace a relatively narrow set of values which belong to Guardian executives and readers rather than the general population.

I have also been concerned for a number of years about the dumbing down of its output. It still does produce some excellent material, but this is becoming rarer. It increasingly produces a lot of crap. I'm a fan of science and history documentaries, and once upon a time, the BBC would have been my first port of call. It is not even worth watching now. Where is the science on the BBC? Discovery Channel is far superior. Auntie Beeb dishes up an endless diet of reality shows, makeover shows, and soap operas. I could get that for free elsewhere, if I wanted it. I don't see why I should buy a licence for it. I think it is fair to say that its golden years are behind it.

The BBC is a relic of a bygone age. It played a valuable role in propping up national morale during the second world war, broadcasting government messages to 'Keep Calm and Carry On'. Those days are long gone. We now live in a globablised world of plural, privately owned mass media outlets. Most of us now have broadband. Why on earth would I want to buy a TV licence?

Pehaps the best course of action with regard to the BBC is just to abolish it altogether. I'm not suggesting it should be closed down and everyone thrown out of work. It can be broken up and privatised. There will be no more license fee, and no more state funding. Once it has to support itself financially, we will see which parts of it manage to survive. This will be good for the BBC too: it will become, like the Guardian, free to adopt any editorial line it chooses.


Television Licence Info said...

The UK TV licence is a licence to watch, not a licence to own - you do not need a licence simply to own equipment that is capable of receiving a licence.

You only need a licence if you actually watch live television, and this applies no matter what equipment you use to do so (TV, computer, mobile phone, etc).

So owning a TV for watching DVDs or playing video games does not require a licence.

TVLR said...

"If you own equipment capable of receiving a TV signal"

No you pay them to receive "live" transmissions. If you watch DVDs or play consoles then the BBC can go fourth and multiply

JimmyGiro said...

The BBC, or as 'A Very British Dude' puts it: Al JaBeeb, or the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, has lost half of its core audience.

Men and rational women have minimal reason to watch it any more. Ironically in its glory days, the argument was that direct public licensing gave it the independence from base market forces, to allow 'elitist' programming to expand the creative envelope; but nobody reckoned on the army of ZanuLabour spin doctors to corrupt that independence by virtue of 'public money implies public policy', and ZanuLabour is the public policy of our private lives. The irony being that now it has been made more 'popular', less people watch it; and once upon a time it could have sold itself, now it needs to be spoon fed more than ever before.

Unlike you HS, I believe the BBC staff should be sacked wholesale, as they allowed this catastrophe of a cultural icon to occur on their watch; only they were in position to oppose it, not us.

As an aside, we can put this down to yet another failure of 'precious' thinking: when a strategy or a cult is 'too good' to scrutinize, when the perpetrators fail or refuse to follow the evidence of their failures ( I feel an essay coming on).

Deadbeat Dad said...

I've held a grudge against the Beeb ever since the Real Story shockumentary about Fathers 4 Justice in 2004. This was a blatant smear job, with Wimmin's Aid pulling Fiona Bruce's strings. Newswatch did offer some modest redress, but all involved in the production of this emotional pornography should have been ritually disembowelled.

I don't have a TV, but I used to be a regular Radio 4 listener. I finally switched even that off last year because I was so sick of its pseudo-debate and misandry (Woman's Hour in particular).

Btw, Heretic, your assertion that the Beeb could become "like the Guardian, free to adopt any editorial line it chooses" is a little misleading: sure, the Guardian is privately owned and could adopt any editorial line, theoretically; but the reality is that it is heavily reliant on taxpayer-funded public sector recruitment advertising, and its content reflects that.

Further on this topic, see Biased BBC.

BrusselsLout said...

The BBC is loaded with dumbed-down junk, as if it were competing for ratings, as if it depended on revenue from big corporations anyway.

So to hell with it. It may as well be privatised. And save the viewer some money he could better spend on holiday.

barefootreporter said...

I think it is fair to say that its golden years are behind it.

Not just the BBC's - you could say the above of TV in general. 57 channels and nothing on...

Anonymous said...

Although I probably agree with you main point I don't think you can argue that the Guardian is biased while the Mail is not. Remember we all see are own bias as reasonable and fair. It's the nature of human self deceit.

Heretic said...

"Although I probably agree with you main point I don't think you can argue that the Guardian is biased while the Mail is not."

I can't recall saying that the Mail is not biased.