Tuesday, 1 April 2008

"The destruction of the BBC"?

We can only hope:
David Cameron was last night accused of paving the way for the destruction of the BBC after he threatened to hand £250million of its money to other broadcasters.
"Its money" = our money.

The Tories plan to force the Corporation to give away part of its licence fee funds to create new competition in public service broadcasting.

The move will break the BBC's "monopoly" over programmes and guarantee more quality output in areas such as children's television, the Tories claim.

"We must ensure there is plurality of provision of quality broadcasting content," says the party's new blueprint for public service broadcasting, to be unveiled tomorrow.

The move will be coupled with a plan to scrap the governing BBC Trust - itself only set up last year - and replace it with a more independent "public service broadcasting commission".

But the plans prompted an angry backlash from the BBC - which claimed it would mark the beginning of the end of the Corporation.

"Once you take away part of the licence fee you break the trust between the BBC and the licence-fee payer," said a senior BBC executive.

"The viewer won't know who on earth their money is going to and will say, 'why on earth should I pay this any more?'

Actually, some of us are already asking that very question. We would be happier to pay the licence fee, if less of it went to fund an institutionally liberal organisation, which pumps out a solid stream of left-wing propaganda, regardless of who the money went to instead. Abolishing the licence fee altogether might well be better still...

The Tories are now proposing to "top-slice" the licence fee income and put some of it into a new fund available to outside bidders - including the Corporation's commercial rivals.

The BBC could bid for a share of the money but "it would probably be preferable for these funds to go to new organisations or new channels where it has been shown there is a gap in the market," says the Conservative document.

Privately, the Tories have earmarked £250million for the fund to come out of money currently being allocated for the switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting which is due to be completed by 2012.

This proposal is reminiscent of one made by the former BBC reporter Robin Aitken, in his (very readable) book, Can We Trust the BBC?. Aitken suggested that as little as 2% of the BBC's total income could be redirected to funding a rival, more conservative, public service broadcaster. Of course, Aitken's book focuses primarily on the Beeb's left-wing political bias, rather than its monopoly status. But there seems to be little reason why the principal of competition within public service broadcasting should not be extended to cover non-political areas, such as children's programming.

Personally, I would be quite happy to see the Tories (or anyone else) go further, and really destroy the BBC. But, regrettably, there are still a great many people in this country for whom any attack on dear old "Auntie Beeb" would be an act of secular sacrilege akin to bludgeoning the Queen Mother to death. As such, we are unlikely to see the BBC openly attacked by any major politician any time soon. But efforts to remove the BBC's monopoly are always to be welcomed, and, for once, I am actually moderately impressed with David Cameron's suggestion.


Homophobic Horse said...

This is not destroying the BBC but expanding its power. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and Cameroon will only give the license fee to ideologically pleasing bidders, just you watch.

Anonymous said...

As I understood it, one is obliged to pay the licence fee for receiving any television broadcasts. People have tried to refuse to pay on the basis that they don't watch the BBC, but this has not been allowed. Therefore this is not a BBC licence, but a broadcasting licence - so why the hell has the BBC been filching all of the money?

Alex said...

I'm a member of that minority of viewers who, on health and safety grounds, stopped watching BBC television years ago. It's not good for my blood pressure to be enraged by the constant stream of politically corrected news reports, "docudramas", horse operas, and even weather forecasts. It's unsafe to keep a high voltage apparatus in the living room which I'm tempted to attack with my fists whenever a fatuous face from the BBC appears on it.

Why should I pay a licence fee for something which I hate and which is a danger to health and destroys my peace of mind?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

this is absolutely loony,.

Has it never occurred to anyone that it is the license fee that needs to be abolished?

Why THE HELL should we be paying tax for tv? Tv is a commercial product. It should be sold to the highest commercial bidder.

Why do the Tories think that the solution to the Beeb is to give more government money to other tv producers? Do they not realise that the public funding for television is the problem?

Force the BBC and everyone else to compete fairly in the marketplace for viewers.

Why is it simply a given in this country that the government should fund television?

It simply beats me why everyone accepts this.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

it is the absolutely incredible complacency of the British people with the idea of government running everything that makes me shudder for the future of this country.

the government should do two things. Protect me from foreign invasions, and build and maintain infrastructure. That means roads.

Not television networks.

Anonymous said...

Ah bless you all as you slide happily towards a commercial media hell like we have here in Italy. It is such a British trait to loathe what the rest of the world admires most about the UK - the BBC!