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Yet another blog about the BBC

In today’s Telegraph Charles Moore has an excellent summary of what is wrong with the BBC, its deeply entrenched institutional bias and its undeserved influence:

It seems to me that the BBC today is the enemy of conservative culture in Britain. This is not immediately obvious, because elements of the BBC’s output, particularly on radio, are justly loved by many conservative-minded people. But it is nevertheless the case. The few glorious programmes are used as the camouflage behind which political correctness can advance.

How does the BBC approach subjects such as American power, organised religion, marriage, the EU, the Middle East, the actions of the Armed Forces, the rights of householders to defend their property against burglars, public spending, choice of schools, or any perceived inequality?

Who will be more politely treated – Gerry Adams or Norman Tebbit, a spokesman for Hizbollah or Paul Wolfowitz? If someone appears on a programme described as a “property developer” with someone described as a “green activist”, who will get the rougher ride? If a detective drama features a feisty lesbian and a chilly aristocrat, which is more likely to be the murderer?

And when it comes to a war – it applied both in the Falklands and in Iraq – the BBC takes a pride in being what it calls “even-handed”, which means inventing moral equivalence between the forces of our country and those of aggressive dictatorships.

None of these attitudes is unique to the BBC, but what is unique is the BBC’s power to impose them. In order legally to have a television in your home, you have to pay the BBC £116 a year. This allows it to dominate virtually all forms of broadcast media, many of which have nothing to do with any idea of “public service broadcasting”.

Out of the deference that this power instils, senior BBC executives are paid more than anyone else in the entire British public service. Greg Dyke, the now ex-director-general and editor-in-chief who seems to have been too busy to edit, got £464,000 last year. BBC executives are like the princes of the Church of England before the commutation of the tithes. They are rich and powerful, and no doubt they mean well, but there comes a time when non-conformists get fed up with paying for their sermons and their privileges.

That time is surely near. We must find a way of abolishing or hugely reducing the licence fee while reviving the core of public service broadcasting. How half-witted of Tory Britain to hand this chance to Tony Blair, instead of claiming it for itself.

Apologies for such a long quote but apart from a tiny disagreement about the license fee – it should be scrapped, not just reduced – I have nothing to add.

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16 comments to Yet another blog about the BBC

  • John Harrison

    Absolutely agreed. Scrap the licence fee. Let the BBC finance itself by advertising, subscriptions and so on. But what about the ownership of the BBC? Could it be privatised along the lines of the TSB? Members of the public and institutions would be able to subscribe to a share offering and the capital raised could go back into the BBC and allow a transition period during which the organisation could survive the shock of losing the licence fee.
    On a technical point, would the BBC have to be nationalised before it is privatised because it is notionally independent. or is the Government the legal owner? Would it be better to split parts of the BBC off as separate companies since it would almost certainly react like a wounded animal and lash out at any government bold enough to carry out such a reform? The one thing I am certain of is that the best, or at any rate the most popular programmes of the BBC would continue. Many of them are made by independent production companies anyway.

  • RonG

    I don’t understand why some party has not already used that as an election platform. How come the conservatives haven’t managed to sell it as 116 pound tax cut?

  • RonG: because they are not called ‘The Stupid Party’ for nothing.

  • I see that many of the BBC’s staff have gone on strike to show that they are with Gilligan, et al.. On a positive note, the high-pitched whining emanating from the corridors of the BBC will be greatly reduced, while the strike is on, don’t you think?

  • Anointiata Delenda Est

    Forget the 160 quid, that’s not the issue. The real issue goes back to why the interviewers will give absolute gobshites (eg, Gerry Adams) a smooth run, but beat up the Right. In fact, it is considerably worse than this, why is it that the dumb-arsed ‘man in the street interview’ is just as good as the 50%+ of the population that thinks the opposite? Is this supposed to demonstrate even-handedness? If you want to be even-handed, you give the 50%+ view.

    I love the BBC, as long as it deals with comedy, drama, yes even Rule Britannia (and I’m Irish). It’s just when it comes to social issues that it wimps it.

    I have a theory: whatever commedians are making jokes about in clubs is passe. So far, nobody is making jokes about mindless PC, but it can’t be too far off. Could the BBC give a lead here and take us to the next evolution of Monty Python?

  • Verity

    Chalk me up as another vote for the scrap heap. Let them sink or swim in the marketplace. If they sink, that means they weren’t good enough. If they swim, fine, but I’ll bet commercial success would involve slashing a good tranche of those 40,000 employees.

    The BBC is a ridiculous concept. It’s Stalinesque, extortionate and presupposes a passive, ignorant audience. It should have been jettisoned 50 years ago.

  • The BBC could probably be self financing from its Archive alone, but, because of the guaranteed income from its poll tax, has been apathetic where marketing is concerned.BBC stewardship of the Archive has been appalling with huge amounts of material lost.
    There can be no reform of the BBC until the licence fee is scrapped only when it is financially accountable will there be change.Even mangement recruited from the private sector goes native shortly after arrival.

  • John Harrison

    I don’t understand why some party has not already used that as an election platform. How come the conservatives haven’t managed to sell it as 116 pound tax cut?

    Doubtless they are a bit nervous at the idea of going into an election campaign with the BBC abandoning all pretense at neutrality and openly campaigning against the Tory Party. The BBC holds massive power to influence public opinion and spends far more than any political party doing so.
    You don’t wander into a tiger’s cage and nonchalantly take its dinner away.
    When I have argued in Conservative circles fo scrapping the license fee there is a great deal of support for the idea but they are scared witless of the consequences.

  • As a bureaucratized, unionized, compulsorily-funded government monopoly of over-paid sanctimonious leftists, the Beeb represents the worst of five or more worlds. Their self-annointed status as watch-dogs of the establishment is comically ridiculous; they ARE the establishment.

  • RonG

    John Harrison:
    Here in Canada, and often in the US as well, the media often seems to get a wrong impression of voter preferences. If the Conservatives seem likely to lose anyway, they might be pleasantly surprised at the result of such a proposal.

  • “It seems to me that the BBC today is the enemy of conservative culture in Britain.” – CM

    “…apart from a tiny disagreement about the license fee… I have nothing to add.” – DC

    Is this why the word ‘Libertarian’ was dropped from ‘Libertarian Samizdata’, because you are now conservatives?

  • Marty Busse

    The BBC will also do one thing for the Hizbullah spokesman it won’t do for Pual Wolfowitz: pronounce his last name correctly.

    I have yet to hear a Beeb reporter pronounce it as anything but “Vulfervitz,” which is not correct, and which makes me wonder if the Beeb is trying to highlight the fact that Wolfowitz is Jewish.

  • Verity

    Marty Busse – No, this is an old affection of the BBC’s. Every name must be pronounced as the natives pronounce it (although, strangely, they never refer to Paree or Munchen) and it is supposed to come trippingly off the tongue in a little fuzzball of self-congratulation and worldliness.

    What the BBC, a deeply provincial organisation, simply cannot get its head round is, some names which originated in Germany 150 years ago and migrated to the US, have, over the years, come to be pronounced as normal American. It used to drive Leonard Bernstein crazy every time he was interviewed by some BBC “cultural correspondent” twit who began his/her questions with, “Now, Mr Bernshteen …”. He even corrected them, but you see, foreign names have to be pronounced “correctly”, with a superior sneer.

    Nothing to do with either of them being Jewish, Mr Busse. I also remember Hispanic singer Vicky Carr’s middle name being pronounced by a BBC plonker as “Los Ang-helees”.

  • Verity

    PS – Martin Busse – with the Victoria de Los Angeles part of Vicky Carr’s name, I forgot to add that the interviewer not only pronounced this American singer’s name as though it were Mexican, but went for the full Castilian. It was de Los Angh (throat clearing here) heleeth. Examples are legion and I think they demonstrate a hatred of the United States, not Judaism. They just want to draw attention to the fact that some Americans don’t even know how to pronounce their own names properly! Whereas the BBC, keeper of the culture, has a little cultural duty to alert them to their ignorance.

  • I suppose this must explain Coh-lin Powell.

    Verity, for God’s sake, calm down.

  • Adhib

    Erm, guys … shooting the messenger?

    The only logic offered so far for attacking at this level is not that the BBC’s version of events is impermissible, but that public service broadcasting is the wrong model. Is this the inevitable outcome of a libertarian perspective? That civic institutions outside the market are necessarily corrupting? A corrosive, cynical road to go down.