We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Whole tranches of the state have been privatised over the past 40 years, and yet still we have a state broadcasting service that is funded via a hypothecated tax – a system that dates from the days when the technology did not exist to charge for watching an individual TV channel and devised at a time when broadcasting was, in any case, a state monopoly. It ought to be pretty obvious that such an arrangement is bad for competition. It is as if we were all forced to pay an annual fee to Tesco, in return for which we could help ourselves to all the groceries we liked at no further cost, and we still had to pay Tesco even if we wanted to do our shopping at Sainsbury’s or Asda. What would that do for the market in food? It would quite clearly kill all competition, as well as damage the quality of the food on sale at Tesco.”

Ross Clark.

23 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • The OP is correct, but the fact that the customers of advertiser-funded television are not its watchers was an issue even in the old days, when advertisers just wanted to sell their products, and is worse today, when we see it is easier for the woke to corrupt a few ad houses and pressure company boards than it would be to make the UK population all watch wokeness if alternatives were offered. A major change during my lifetime is that a decade and a half before the millennium, commercial-channel news was noticeably less PC than the BBC. Today, it is noticeably more PC than the BBC.

    There might be ways to combine technology with reforming and then abolishing the licence fee that would grow a direct market (makers-to-watchers) in programmes.

    On the other hand, if parliament ever had the votes to abolish the licence fee outright, perhaps it would be rash not to seize the opportunity, lest it prove fleeting.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Niall, in my view killing the BBC’s funding model and forcing to compete in a market is only part of the battle. The “woke” or “PC” culture (or whatever other terms people want to use to describe this sort of mindset) needs to be combated intellectually at root, as well as by encouraging alternatives to flourish.

    But even if the BBC wasn’t so poor in certain respects (and parts of it are still pretty good), the licence fee tax regime is unsupportable.

    Also, the BBC is like the NHS, one of those institutions that have in a way replaced the Anglican Church as a sort of national religious entity. These things are in my opinion infantilising, and I welcome their overthrow.

  • pete

    The BBC has become a source of sinecures for a large number of well-connected public school and Oxbridge types.

    That will make it very hard to reform the corporation.

  • Alsadius

    I know it’s easy for me to say as someone who doesn’t need to pay the TV tax, but the BBC is really damn good at what they do. The BBC World News is the only news source I’ve ever heard that actually discusses the whole world, their comedy is fantastic, their nature programming is excellent, and on and on. I’ve never found a private-sector British TV production worth watching, but I have a lot of BBC on my shelf. If the CBC was as tenth as good, I wouldn’t begrudge them their funding nearly so much.

    Seems to me like there should be much higher priorities for your attacks, all told. Not that the TV tax system is good, because it’s not, but it’s pretty benign by government standards.

  • John B

    The BBC is an uncontestable monopoly… another market player cannot compete for the viewers’ money, unlike the private sector monopolies which can be challenged by competition.

    Worse since the ‘licence’ is for operating a TV receiver, it has to be paid in order to watch other broadcasters even if the viewer does not want the BBC. (Similarly with the NHS, people are forced to pay whether they want to use it or not.)

    This distorts the market because it means others are kept out of the market and other broadcasters are forced to rely on ad revenue rather than part or whole subscription.

    Cognitive dissonance: politicians insist private (contestable) monopolies are bad for consumers and must be prevented or broken up, but then argue State (uncontestable monopolies) in broadcasting, healthcare, education and other public services are good for consumers.

  • Mr Ed

    I’ve never found a private-sector British TV production worth watching,

    Never seen The World at War? It had its faults but it was pretty good, it was Thames Television, ITV.

  • djc

    Alsadius, if you think it good then you can pay a sub for it. If you’re not paying for it then that’s a case for reforming the BBC’s funding.

  • Rich Rostrom

    “I’ve never found a private-sector British TV production worth watching…”

    What, never? Because…

    Agatha Christie’s Marple (ITV)

    Agatha Christie’s Poirot (ITV)

    The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (Granada)

    As Time Goes By (Theatre of Comedy Entertainment)

    Maigret (ITV)

    Mr. Bean (Tiger Aspect Productions)

    Rumpole of the Bailey (Thames Television)

    Death in Paradise (four companies)

    Jeeves and Wooster (Granada)

    Upstairs, Downstairs (London Weekend Television)

    (some of these were broadcast by the BBC)

  • Flubber

    The BBC World News is the only news source I’ve ever heard that actually discusses the whole world (From a leftist globalist perspective),
    their comedy is fantastic (From a leftist globalist perspective)
    their nature programming is excellent (From a leftist globalist perspective) etc

    I find their leftist globalist perspective nauseating and I should not be forced to pay for that shit.

    Lazy troll. 3/10

  • Alan Peakall

    Not to forget Edward the Seventh (ATV, 1975), not least for its moving account of the tragedy of Frederick III of Prussia.

  • Roué le Jour

    It’s worth remembering, I think, that the BBC is acting in blatant violation of its own charter, which requires impartiality. That alone is reason to end the TV tax.

  • Mr James Ironside

    The Beeb needs to go down as a warning to the rest….

    Pour encourager less autres?

    I bet I mangled that one….

  • Stonyground

    “…BBC is acting in blatant violation of its own charter, which requires impartiality.”

    The most blatant and obvious example of this has to be the climate change issue. Their position was established by 28 hand picked “scientists” that the sceptics were just flat out wrong and that therefore their opinions could simply be ignored. Now as it becomes ever more obvious that the sceptics were actually right, the BBC is now doubling down and broadcasting ever more ludicrous lies about the subject. I’m not sure how they can now extricate themselves from the corner that they have painted themselves into, it will be entertaining watching them try.

  • TomJ

    their comedy is fantastic, […] I’ve never found a private-sector British TV production worth watching

    May I heartily recommend Father Ted, Spaced, Green Wing, Black Books, The IT Crowd…

  • @Rich Rostrom – Now look at the year of first (or even last) production of those ITV series. They are all looking a bit dated.

    In response I would add “Foyle’s War” and “Endeavour” to name just two off the top of my head.

    @Alsadius – If it was just the payment of the Telly Tax (which I don’t pay, since I don’t watch it), it wouldn’t be so bad. It’s the all pervasive leftwing bias that is rammed down peoples throats and then the bastards lying about it when such bias is challenged.

    As for their international coverage, it might be less obvious how leftwing they are but, for example, they focus on the failings of Trump’s administration far more than they did with Obama’s, who was far worse both domestically and internationally.

    I don’t think the BBC should be killed, that would be far too gentle a demise. No, it should be forced to operate on either a subscription, advertising or mixed-model. I doubt that the general public would cough up the same £5 billion a year for it that is garnished through the Telly Tax, but then again, maybe I’m wrong and the British people do love the BBC sufficiently to pay such a vast sum.

    Let the market decide!

  • Jon Eds

    I’m not sure how they can now extricate themselves from the corner that they have painted themselves into, it will be entertaining watching them try.

    They won’t have to.

    AGW catastrophe will remain between 10 and 20 years away for the next 40 years, until such time technological developments and incremental government suppression (of CO2) has actually led to large reductions in CO2. At that point the narrative will change to ”phew’, we just managed to avert catastrophe. Well done us. We defeated Trump’. Makes me sick just thinking about it. There should be some horrible punishment for these people but alas it will never be. At least they will have to remain them for the rest of their miserable lives.

    Thank God for China and Trump keeping it real.

  • ap

    A reminder the British voters:

    If the newsreaders smile on election night, the electorate has failed.

    Forgive me if I mucked up the British—my native language is North American.

  • Paul Marks

    17 comments and no one has pointed out that the other television stations are just as leftist as the BBC.

    Yes get rid of the BBC tax (the “license fee”) – a tax cut is good.

    But you will not achieve anything if the regulations (and so on) mean all the television stations continue to be leftist.

    What is wrong with everyone? I know Mr Ed does not have a television – but the rest of you must know that they other television stations are just as bad as the BBC. Both in their news and current affairs coverage – and in their entertainment shows.

    To just sit there and seem not to notice that entertainment shows (not just the news and current affairs programmes) has leftist assumptions in it.

    Is everyone blind and deaf?

    And it is much the same in the United States – and has been since at least the time the Kennedy Administration changed the FCC rules to give a de facto editorial monopoly of entertainment shows to ABC, CBS and NBC.

  • @Paul – I totally agree, but we have to start to “Starve the Beast” and that comes from the Telly Tax.

    The problem with bias is that the BBC decides whether something is biased or not first rather than a 3rd party panel such as OFCOM (not that they are any good since most regulators are useless).

    Next step is to purge OFCOM of the Marxists and get a genuine rationale for impartiality and force that on all broadcasters (including Sky, C4, ITN News, etc.)

    It’s not just the news providers, since the broadcasters in general are as bad. Regulation against bias and propaganda needs to be spread across the TV industry because the poison of Marxism is easily spread by it.

    Then extend the same into the schools and big-Uni.

  • Itellyounothing

    This hypothetical unbiased Ofcom….. Why will they stay unbiased if they even can be cleansed?

    We need some cleverer behavioural bulwark better than temp control of the ground.

    Law can be changed or spider-broached.

  • 17 comments and no one has pointed out that the other television stations are just as leftist as the BBC. (Paul Marks, December 12, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Paul, may I draw your attention to

    A major change during my lifetime is that a decade and a half before the millennium, commercial-channel news was noticeably less PC than the BBC. Today, it is noticeably more PC than the BBC. (Niall Kilmartin, December 10, 2019 at 11:03 am)

  • Paul Marks

    My apologies to you Niall – I failed to notice what you had written, and the “Red Mist” came down upon me, which is so often the case with me – and I should resist it.

    As for “Ofcom” – Milton Friedman’s comment about “Barking Cats” springs to mind, a body that has this sort of power will NATURALLY come under the control of the left. Such powers, such bodies, must be ENDED.

  • No apology, needed, Paul – I’m quite capable of missing points in comments myself.

    I merely wanted to draw your attention to my comment’s surrounding argument. Corrupting commercial TV companies and their advertisers into being woke is easier for the left than persuading people to watch wokeness that bores them when they have alternatives – so if direct immediate total abolition of the license fee, it should be modified in a way that encourages a direct market in between individual watchers and programme makers, e.g. each individual’s license fee directly pays to makers of programmes that individual watches, cutting out BBC management.

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