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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

The point of “public service obligations” were because costs were high and bandwidth was limited. Broadcasters, especially those chasing ad money might not make programmes for disabled people, or obscure arts shows.

When you solve costs and increase bandwidth, anyone can make a show and people do. You want stuff about Keynesian economics, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. There are lots of blind people making videos on YouTube, people of nearly all varieties of politics from communists to libertarians, the history of corsetry, how to repoint a wall. There are few colour, sex or whatever bars because this stuff is cheap to make.

Some geezer on Tim Worstall’s site discussing the anachronistic dinosaur known as the BBC

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • lucklucky

    Malevolent Dinosaur. That forces people that it hates to pay for it. Slavery.

  • Mr Ed

    Mrs Thatcher (whose birthday is today, but don’t remind the Conservative party, they’d rather you forgot about her) had a golden opportunity to end the BBC’s State-funded privilege when satellite TV came into the UK c.1986, but she did nothing and even founded a mini-BBC in Channel 4 that decade. The justification of public service was a fig leaf for simple statism and monopoly. If Mrs Thatcher could see it (she surely could) and would do nothing, what possible hope is there with our current batch of politicians?

    The answer is in the hands of everyone in the UK, simply stop watching TV live and stop buying a licence, and let the whole edifice fall (and be propped up by a panicked Conservative government).

  • itellyounothing

    Lo-blo and the covidtives make my stomach churn as much as glue sniffing new labour….

    Al Been is gonna die with the gullible boomers….

  • Mrs Thatcher (whose birthday is today, but don’t remind the Conservative party, they’d rather you forgot about her) had a golden opportunity to end the BBC’s State-funded privilege when satellite TV came into the UK c.1986, but she did nothing and even founded a mini-BBC in Channel 4 that decade.

    While many people describe St. Margaret of Thatcher as a radical, in many ways she was socially conservative and was wary of interfering with an institution who (on paper at least) were nominally impartial and still commanded an audience of millions.

    When it came to axing the license fee it was the previous Labour administration under “Sunny Jim” Callaghan that were the radicals with moves to abolish the license fee and make the BBC a government agency.

    Labour planned to abolish the licence fee by bringing the BBC within general government expenditure. This was so controversial that relevant papers were marked “Secret” and their circulation restricted. The plans were backed by a coalition within cabinet which included, on the left, Tony Benn, who thought the BBC’s governors “undemocratic” and the licence fee an unfair poll tax on the poor, and on the right the prime minister, James Callaghan. (They agreed on little else except that they should “do” something about the BBC.)

    This would have made the BBC a “state” broadcaster, competing head-on with health, education and defence for funds. Labour came in practice, if not in name, very close to doing this, when it gave the BBC three inadequate licence-fee settlements, resulting in straitened income budgets, eked out year by painful year. “Tethering” the BBC to the government in this way was driven by a desperate attempt to grapple with inflation, though there was an element of political exasperation with the BBC as well.

    War on the BBC: the triumphs and turbulence of the Thatcher years

    The rationale for not privatising the BBC or abolishing the license fee and replacing it with advertising was that it would threaten one of the nations institutions as well as undermining the viability of ITV and later Channel 4 who were dependent upon that advertising and there was the view that there was only so much that advertising could support.

    On the specific matter of the use of analogue satellite TV to justify some form of switchover to a subscription model the costs of satellite installation were still substantial and the failure of BSB (of Squarial receiver fame) showed that the possibility of failure certainly existed and the political and electoral fallout of a failure of the BBC would be enormous.

    A bigger question is why OFCOM allowed the BBC to undermine the possibility of being forced to a subscription model when they interfered with the technical implementation of the Common Interface and Conditional Access Module enabling encrypted subscription channels to be decrypted. If this capability had been built into all Freeview devices as standard (as was initially conceived by the ITV Digital team) then this would have provided a foundation for the BBC to move to a subscription model once the rollout of digital TV was completed. It was removed from the base specification because it was recognised as a direct threat to the BBC’s lucrative TV Licensing revenue.

    So the bigger question is why didn’t Labour under Tony Bliar force the BBC to go to a digital subscription model under Freeview? There was certainly no love lost after the Iraq WMD debacle.

  • Tim Worstall

    Tiny thing. That’s not actually me. It’s on my site, yes. But actually written by the guy we call “Our Swindon Correspondent” and I could tell you who that is but then I’d have to…..you know the routine.

  • Stonyground

    If the BBC was funded through general taxation then there really would be no escape. At least with the TV licence there is an option to not pay it. One thing that I find to be really vexing is that, if I want to stop paying for the BBC legally I have to severely restrict my viewing of everything else. I either have to get rid of my TV altogether or rig it so it can’t receive broadcasts. It goes without saying that the answer to all this is that the BBC becomes subscription only so that those who want it can pay for it. I don’t think that I would be signing up just so that I can keep watching the Repair Shop.

  • If the BBC was funded through general taxation then there really would be no escape.

    Yes, but there is no way that the Treasury will carve out £4 billion in tax revenue each year for the BBC (i.e. equivalent to the current TV Licensing revenue), so I can’t see that happening at all.

    More likely there is a mixed funding regime where UK Gov pays some things out of taxation such as Children’s programs, BBC Parliament and BBC World Service, but the rest would have to be made up by some combination of subscription or advertising. To say the BBC doesn’t do adverts is to stretch the truth. It does them on partnership channels like Dave, BBC America etc, so it’s not exactly alien to the BBC, just not something they do on the main channels.

    The TV License regime is an anachronism. The longer it goes on the more bizarre and out of step it appears. The BBC knows full well that they get the £4 billion in TV License revenue because people feel obliged to the point of compulsion to pay it. If that compulsion was removed how many people would actually cough up for a full BBC Subscription of somewhere around £20 a month? (the TV License is currently about £13 a month)

    The BBC will simply have to be told that the TV License regime is ending in 2027 and will not be renewed in any form. That’s the only way to stir the BBC from its apathy and focus on how it survives in a competitive multimedia market. I doubt that lefty comedians and the rest of the Beeb’s “Marxist Diversity hires” will be a road to prosperity.

    The BBC has alienated itself from its core audience (especially the older generation) with its appalling behaviour. I doubt there is any coming back from that.

  • John B

    The ‘unique way the BBC is funded’ is because a) the Government wanted to keep control over BBC content and thus control over what the Great Unwashed heard and learned, b) advertising was rejected because it would cheapen the BBC which would no longer be able to concentrate on quality (ha!) instead having to push out programmes with mass appeal to attract advertisers… just like it has for about the last three decades or more.

  • So the bigger question is why didn’t Labour under Tony Bliar force the BBC to go to a digital subscription model under Freeview? There was certainly no love lost after the Iraq WMD debacle. (John Galt, October 14, 2020 at 5:49 am)

    There was a lot of love before, and the hatred that followed was not of the kind to make the BBC turn Tory. Tony Blair gained more than he lost from a BBC that hated him less than anyone to the right of him.

    The BBC will simply have to be told that the TV License regime is ending in 2027

    My translation of that is: the BBC will simply have to be told that either they ensure the Tories get defeated in 2024 or else they will have to persuade, not compel, people to pay them in 2027.

    I like the bit about ending the license fee, but have concerns how the schedule will play out.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – as you know Channel Four was supposed to be an alternative to the BBC, and there were a pro freedom shows in its early days. For example, “New Right Enlightenment” (if I remember the name correctly) which Brian Micklethwait was involved in. But, of course, the left soon took control of C4 – as John O’Sullivan points out “anything that is not explicitly right wing, will eventually be taken over by the left”.

    The science and technology point is entirely correct – if there ever was an excuse for state (“public service”) broadcasting, there is not now. There is room for many stations.

    But remember WORSE than the BBC is the “Ofcom” regulations – that mean that all stations are leftist, to get rid of the BBC but keep “Ofcom” would mean that little had been achieved.

  • Caligari

    @ Stonyground, October 14, 2020 at 11:22 am:

    If the BBC was funded through general taxation then there really would be no escape. At least with the TV licence there is an option to not pay it.

    It could be even worser. The poor dogs on the continent… the Germans have to pay a fee for the public tv service, even if they don’t even own a tv or a radio.
    The “beitragsservice” force you to pay and looking for possible payer with investigative methodes.

    People have been convicted (or trailed) in public courts for refusing to pay on the grounds that they do not own televisions. No mercy.

    In Germany, the public radio/tv are a public institution.

    I envy the British for the BBC. There are lots of interessting shows, news and so on. Compared with its German counterpart, the BBC is really worth its weight in gold. Besides, the Germans are allowed to entertain two institutions like the BBC… Isn’t it great?

    At least the German people can build cars.

  • Paul Marks

    Obviously the BBC should not be financed by a television tax (“license fee”) or from general taxation.

    My point was that the Ofcom regulations ruin the chances of any “independent” television stations being worth watching (presently they are just as bad the BBC – if not worse), not to defend the evil of tax funded television.

  • lucklucky

    Let’s not forget the BBC behavior in Falklands War.

  • Let’s not forget the BBC behavior in Falklands War. (lucklucky, October 17, 2020 at 4:11 am)

    My understanding FWIW:

    While the task force was assembling and heading south, the BBC were dead set against the war, providing discouraging ‘analysis’ to the effect that of course we should not attempt to fight, let alone expect to win, a war.

    During the Falklands fighting, the journalists on the spot took on the feelings of the task force – they wanted to win and their coverage was in line with that, and pulled the BBC at home the same way. (It was an immense contrast with the BBC in the Iraq war, say, where the correspondents on the ground were hostile to the troops, though less so than the studio ‘analysts’ back home.)

    Afterwards, the beeb loathed the benefits to Thatcher from the victory, but were restrained in how they handled that aspect of it.

    Long afterwards, the usual rewrite of history was done, explaining that we almost lost and were very lucky to win and the lessons taken from it by the common people at the time were delusions.

    By all means comment on and/or qualify and/or correct any of the above.

    Compared with its German counterpart, the BBC is really worth its weight in gold. (Caligari, October 15, 2020 at 1:10 pm)

    The very sad fact is that I suspect that comparison is true – even as I also think that what this blog says about the BBC is true.

  • Mr Ed

    Flt-Lt Jerry Pook DFC wrote a book about his Falklands War experiences including strafing Goose Green and ejecting over the sea after damage from ground fire. In his book, which in the main is a rant against the Royal Navy, he opens one chapter denouncing the BBC for its treachery in announcing the pending attack on Goose Green.

    Quite why the MoD let the BBC know of the plan wasn’t ever explored. That being the MoD of Clive Ponting et. al., the same Lefty crackpots as the rest of the Civil Service.

  • lucklucky

    Besides the announced attack against Goose Green, BBC also disclosed that Argentinian bombs were not exploding correctly.

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