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back to article SCRAP the TELLY TAX? Ancient BBC Time Lords mull Beeb's future

It was as good as anything on the telly. Four past BBC chiefs were giving MPs their opinions at Westminster. The Commons media select committee is running an enquiry into the future of the BBC, looking at how it should be governed, and as technology and habits change, whether should there even be a per-household fee levied on …

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Anonymous Coward

"A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room."

Future?

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"A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room"....

"He feared that the BBC go downmarket and start chasing audiences"....

Does he not watch his own channel output?

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While I agree with your point I would suggest that keeping the BBC funded in the way it is gives it the ability (under the right management) to go back up-market.

In effect it acts as a counterfoil to commercial television and prevent commercial television from degrading to the level seen in countries like the US. In other words ITV, for example, can't follow the US model too far as people would stop watching because the BBC provides an alternative.

Obviously we need to stop the BBC distorting the market too much and we need the BBC to up it's game (less celeb cooking shows and removing sections of the Winter Olympics coverage which seem to have been pitched at the worst of 11 year old school girl level).

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@Matt 21

Basically what I was going to say. The BBC should stop funding race-to-the-bottom programmes aimed to compete with the brain-dead drivel on ITV, and go back to producing stuff that actually challenges the viewer to think. These days, I never voluntarily watch BBC1 (though Mrs IP likes "Sherlock", for some unfathomable reason, and I tend to sit in the same room and get my own back by occasionally sticking my head up from the computer screen and asking what's happening ...) Left to my own devices for a while, the only time I have the TV on is for "University Challenge", a new episode of "Big Bang Theory", coverage of sport that interests me (WRC, F1, cycling), and some of the excellent documentaries on BBC4 (the one about British architects last night was brilliant, for instance, as are some of the music documentaries on at the weekend. Rather than getting rid of one of the BBC2/4 channels, I'd make them the backbone of an intelligent BBC aimed at people like me who would rather rip out someone's throat than watch a shitty talent contest or cooking show. Let ITV/Channel 5 deal with crap like that, whilst BBC caters for people that want to think and learn.

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Yes future

"A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room."

Future?

Believe me without the BBC the quality of TV programming would be vastly different. There would be no need for the commercial TV companies to produce anything as exciting as Masterchef. We wouldn't even be able to import better stuff from the US because the only think that keeps their dismal output viewable is the need to compete with BBC's exports. Without the BBC television quality around the world would be in freefall.

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Just a News Operation

"The most radical proposals came from Grade, who said the BBC should be cut back to a news operation and leave the cooking shows and talent shows to the private sector."

It might be the most radical, but in my humblest opinion, is the most sensible.

Alternatively, have you BBC News, BBC One and BBC Two paid by the state, but leave the other stuff to subscription basis (CBeebies, BBC Three, hell, even have BBC Film - everyone else is doing it).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just a News Operation

That would be Grade, scion of the Grade family who made their money (and got their titles out of being impressarios and agents and running commercial broadcasting.

And who was accused of dumbing down Channel 4 when he was in charge?

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Re: Just a News Operation

So no more Dr Who, or other drama shows from the Beeb? Bollox to that.

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Re: "Alternatively, have you BBC News, BBC One and BBC Two paid by the state,"

Erm, BBC Two isn't anywhere near as good as it used to be on the limited channel model. They apparently moved the good stuff to other channels. Not sure where though.

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Re: Just a News Operation

well except for the fact that 90% of their news output is fecking terrible. Most of them have been converted to sofa chat shows and most of the rest just regurgitate PR statements rather than analyse, challenge or criticise. Only newsnight & question time, that I have noticed lately seem to challenge their guests.

They still do some good drama, but I wish they would ditch the production crew who came up with Merlin & Atlantis - they should be lined up against a wall and shot.

While you're at it grab the bastard who decided every show needs to give you a preview of what is about to happen, and then every five minutes remind you of what just happened and then at the end show you what will happen next week. Whoever you are please, please stop!

Honestly I'd rather have adverts than that crap, although filling those useless segments with actual content would be better.

Just my worthless, subjective opinion of course.

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Re: Just a News Operation

I'll reserve my judgement on the new doctor, but based on the last two, I wouldn't lose any sleep if Dr Who was returned to the crypt he was packed into post Sylvester M. In fact, if pushing a button to perma death all the modern Dr Who and Torchwood episodes meant we could recover the remaining missing Dr W episodes I'd do it in a flash.

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Re: Just a News Operation

The BBC took Dr Who of the air for years. There were campaigns to get it back on air, but the BBC knows best so no Dr Who. What is one of BBC's top programs? Dr Who. The BBC are arrogant and should be reigned in so they stop treating the paying public with contempt. Let them discover what it's like to live in the real world where doing stupid things costs you money. As it is they do whatever they like.

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Re: Just a News Operation

Actually no, the BBC has become an increasingly leftwing socialist mouthpiece for the Guardian reading chattering classes, the news is barely balanced most of the time but always tilted against anything middle of the road or even slightly right of the middle.

Proof; did anyone see that weak piece of work by Nick Robinson, touted as the definative 'the truth about immigration'?

It was weak, wet and an apology of a program. Typical BBC politics.

Having to fund themselves rather than be given tax payer money may well see a change of attitude.

They cruise along happily filling their pockets with bonus and perks, privatisation might just get them to work for a living like the rest of us.

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Re: Just a News Operation

As a child growing up in a far away land, the World Service brought us news and entertainment. Today it is, for all practical purposes, "news only". I doubt we would have listened as much to it then if it had been in the format it is now.

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Re: Just a News Operation

Oh come on, it's not like Top Gear, Doctor Who or Panorama have been about for any real length of time is it? They're just a flash in the pan!

The BBC should be a lot more dynamic, turning out quality TV shows like The X Factor. Things that will stand the test of time and bring people together from all walks of life in admiration of... I'm sorry, I feel ill from all that sarcasm.

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Re: Just a News Operation

> leave the cooking shows and talent shows to the private sector.

Best idea in a long time.

The basic problem the independent channels have is the failure to attract an audience. Why is this? becaase every soddin' 20 minutes they interrupt the programmes and try to sell us anti-aging cream, no-win-no-fee lawyering and shampoo.

The idea

If ITV et. al. could run uninterrupted programmes of the same quality as the Beeb's they would attract far more viewers. But they can't, because all the TV tax money goes to one, single, dominant, broadcaster - which uses that dosh to show exactly the same sort of popular programmes that the independent channels rely on, could easily make and would earn them the income to make "quality" telly. if only the BBC weren't giving it all away for free and undermining their potential cash-cows.

Sure: for the viewers it's great (if you like that sort of thing). But it doesn't increase choice - not when all the channels are screening wall-to-wall soaps, celebs, chat, reality and quizzes: 'cos that's what the people want - innit.

The solution

If the trash "popular" programmes were left to the independents to make money from, the BBC could go back to its original charter: entertain, educate and inform. On the basis that you wouldn't need 9 channels of TV to do this (which spend over half their time screening repeats - just to fill the time), the bandwidth they have but don't use could be rented out to other broadcasters (or mobile phone, or some other revenue generator) and that cash used to finance the content they make. If we were also to retain a licence fee, it could then be used to remove or greatly reduce the need for adverts on the commercial channels - thus making them more attractive to viewers (provided they produced programmes people wanted to watch) and as an added bonus, the reduction in advertising "space" might even result in us buying less unneccesary crap and trying to sue the arse of someone everytime we slip over in the street.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just a News Operation

Channel Four was bloody good until Grade took over. It's been mostly dross ever since. The Channel that brought us Big Brother and for several hours every night for weeks on end, year in year out. Channel Four rivalled, if not exceeded BBC2 for intelligent, quality programming until that shitehawk got his grubby mitts on it.

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Re: Just a News Operation

The obsession with "news" - which Grade shares - has done untold damage to the BBC. Its misbegotten "rolling news" channel is a ridiculous cost for the benefit it brings.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just a News Operation

Anything that bastard Grade comes up with has just got to be a bad idea.

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Re: Just a News Operation

The BBC don't really do "news" - they instead do "The BBC News".

That is, everything is looked at through a left-leaning opinionated Guardianista prism. Drives me nuts these days.

The BBC is also chock full of adverts - for their own high production value dross of course, not washing powder.

Get rid of it all. Except 6 Music.

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Pint

Re: Just a News Operation

"Channel Four was bloody good until Grade took over."

That's about the time I gave up on the idiot lantern for good. These days, I only have it on to keep the kids quiet.

Have an upvote and a pint for reminding me how good it used to be.

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Re: Just a News Operation

Left-wing bias? You do know that Nick Robinson used to be the chairman of the Young Conservatives, right?

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Re: Just a News Operation

You're too generous, all their news output is crap and lefty biased crap at that.

I dumped my tv license because I didn't want to fund the left wing bolx that the bbc churn out and I'm quite looking forward to being doorstepped by the tvla.

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Re: Just a News Operation

The last time I watched a decent Drama on BBC was Outcasts, and they cancelled that after 8 episodes.

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Re: Just a News Operation

it would in fact mean more of those because those are the BBCs highest earning DVD and overseas brands!

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MJI
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Re: Grade

He cancelled Doctor Who.

I think that says a lot.

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Re: Just a News Operation @janimal

"While you're at it grab the bastard who decided every show needs to give you a preview of what is about to happen, and then every five minutes remind you of what just happened and then at the end show you what will happen next week. Whoever you are please, please stop!"

You are aware that this is a method of turning 1 hours programming on the BBC into 1 hours programming on a commercial repeats channel by editing out the "coming up", "next week" and "previously" segments and replacing with 15 minutes advertising space, thus increasing resale revenue.

Likewise, when did you ever see the "news" section in a repeat of Top Gear on Dave?

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Re: Just a News Operation

Just remember who made that decision - a certain Mr Grade....

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Re: Just a News Operation

"While you're at it grab the bastard who decided every show needs to give you a preview of what is about to happen, and then every five minutes remind you of what just happened and then at the end show you what will happen next week. Whoever you are please, please stop!"

It is the "Powerpoint Presentation Generation"

1: Tell them what you are going to tell them

2: Tell them

3: Tell them what you told them

This is the formula.

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Stop

Resale ?

“You are aware that this is a method of turning 1 hours programming on the BBC into 1 hours programming on a commercial repeats channel by editing out the "coming up", "next week" and "previously" segments and replacing with 15 minutes advertising space, thus increasing resale revenue.”

Well-spotted !

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Trollface

Embargo

At this point it would be helpful to point you to the submissions these and other witnesses have made to the Select Committee’s enquiry – but we can’t, because they’re inexplicably under embargo. If you've Silverlight installed, you can watch the second session here. ®

So the second session is effectively under embargo as well?

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Linux

Re: Embargo

That's certainly true for me.

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Stop

Leave it out

The real problem is that of politicians, they like to meddle and interfere with things that pretty much work fine.

Why not meddle in the stuff that needs fixing, ie. tax evasion/avoidance

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Re: Leave it out

Re: "Why not meddle in the stuff that needs fixing, ie. tax evasion/avoidance". As far as the politicians are concerned, it's already working perfectly. You and I are paying all the taxes while they and their paymasters get to avoid them.

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Re: Leave it out

I like the way you tried to conflate evasion (illegal) and avoidance (entirely legal) as the same thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Leave it out

Morally it is, which is what matters most.

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Re: Leave it out

Technically, that would be avoision.

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@Graham Dawson - Re: Leave it out

"avoidance (entirely legal)"

But not necessarily entirely ethical...

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Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

There's nothing ethical about taxes at all. Just because a majority of people agree that it's ok to force a minority of people to give them money, under threat of force, doesn't make it right.

Tax avoidance and evasion are our moral duty. I've done the first but not the last, because I'm afraid of the government and what it would do to me. Terrorist B*stards.

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Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

Avoidance is not paying taxes that you aren't required to pay. What's unethical or immoral about that? Expecting people to fork over money they don't owe is what's immoral.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

The noted jurist and legal philosopher Judge Learned Hand had the most concise statement on this subject.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Learned_Hand

"Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."

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Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

"Avoidance is not paying taxes that you aren't required to pay. What's unethical or immoral about that?"

Ask Vodaphone or Amazon or Google or Starbucks.

Blatantly manipulating the system may be legal and profitable, but it hardly qualifies as ethical.

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Windows

BBC2 and BBC4 “spread too little money over too much,” and one of the two spectrum-hogging channels could go.

BBC4 is one of the best channels that came out on freeview. Especially when you compare it to the trash that's on BBC3...

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"spectrum-hogging channels could go"?

As opposed to the compact efficiency of ITV, ITV+1, ITV2, ITV2+1 ITV3, ITV4, CITV....?

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TRT
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Meh... It used to be the exclusive preserve of cerebral programming but the other night I saw a sitcom had crept into the schedule, and not an old one like Ever Decreasing Circles but Parks and Recreation... I thought at first it was displaced content from BBC Parliament.

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TRT
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BBC3 has the odd gem here and there, but to find it you have to dig through piles of crap. I did like Some Girls. Hate Live at the Electric, Ja'mie, Sun Sex and Gullible Attention Seeking Idiots, Sexy (some strange new definition of the word) Beasts etc.

And just WTF is it with Total Wipeout? Why bother with all the water troughs and swinging punch bags? Just film their arrival at the airport in Argentina. What a spectacle it would make, them running the gauntlet as soon as they've presented their British passports. Anyone that actually makes it through customs deserves an automatic place in the final.

I also like Charlie Booker's Weekly Wipe.

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BBC4 is one of the best channels that came out on freeview. Especially when you compare it to the trash that's on BBC3...

Very true, but this is exactly where we used to be with BBC2 v BBC1. BBC3 and 4 were created as "digital" channels, to persuade people to get digital services. New programmes aired first on BBC3/4, as an incentive.

Why not just close BBC3 and BBC4 now, they've done their job. Put the BBC2+BBC4 programmes on BBC2 again, and the BBC3+BBC1 programmes on BBC1. They each repeat so much of their own and the other's programming that there won't be anything that can't be fitted in. Use the money to improve BBC1/2 programming.

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@TRT - Oddly enough

My cousin is married to an Argentinian, and when he goes to visit the in-laws he claims he has no problems at all. The examples you do hear about are mostly political showboating designed to distract the local population.

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Repeats?

But with all those extra programmes there'd be no room for the repeats of Porridge, The Good Life and Dads Army in the BBC 2 schedule. Whatever would happen to Egg Heads? Or Great British X

I've decided to boycott any programme that has "Great British" in it. I'm expecting an apology from the BBC and a rapid change to their schedules. I won't be able to tell you about their apology because it will be embargoed under the Chatham House rule.

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Anonymous Coward

It doesn't really matter how many BBC channels - or indeed ITV - there are or ever were. The really, really brilliantly written/produced/performed output has always been dropped to make way for whichever mass appeal event and apparently always will.

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