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back to article BBC hacks – tweet the crap out of the news, cries tech-dazzled Trust

BBC News reporters should tweet more and use bigger and shinier infographics to bridge the gulf between the corporation and its audience, a W1A-ish report from the BBC Trust recommends. The report, titled “Getting the best out of the BBC for licence fee payers: BBC Trust Review, BBC Network News and Current Affairs”, reveals a …

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Tabloid

I used to watch the BBC news as I felt it was a proper news channel. But clearly that wasn't working for them, and in my eyes they seem to be now verging on as much sensationalism as your average tabloid, just to get their numbers up. So I stopped watching. I blame Ron Burgandy and the introduction of 24 hour news.

Strangely I now think that The Daily Show is the only proper news show out there.

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Re: Tabloid

Fucking Greg Dyke is to blame for dumbing the news down in order to try and get more audience. And hasn't that worked well?

Good journalism will always find an audience.™

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Unhappy

Re: Tabloid

I make a point of not watching TV news, as I almost always end up angry about something when I do, so prefer to get mine from the radio (probably due to the style of reporting, I dunno). This preference for radio is probably why, if I do choose to watch TV news, I'd much rather have a sensible presenter/reporter, talking about the subject, rather than a whizzy infographic. If BBC News goes infographic-heavy, it's basically losing its USP, at least in my eyes.

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Not what it used to be

Can't comment on the television news as I don't watch it. However, it seems to me that the interweb outlet has gone from being a useful provider of news to some vacuous lifestyle magazine. Radio 4 news continues its long-term dumbing down too, and is now as likely to annoy as it is to inform.

Rant over.

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Re: Not what it used to be

Dumbing down is a hallmark of the BBC these days. Why a public-service broadcaster needs to chase ratings is beyond me. Whilst there are occasional gems (I hate to say it, but I like the format of the blind auditions in "The Voice" - though once the selections have been made, it becomes just another talent show), I almost never watch BBC 1. BBC2 gets the occasional viewing (University Challenge, mainly, with recent time spent on W1A). The BBC station I view most (and that ain't a lot), is BBC4, with its programming about music in the mid-C20th. I don't watch any TV news channel regularly - too monotonous, making headlines out of total trivia (I think the most irritating was recently when some footballer was sacked from being manager (or captain) of some team (Manchester?), and that was the headline - was there really nothing more important than that in the country/world?). I do use the BBC News website most days - learning how to use it as a tool to find actual information is worth the time (except for technology - don't get me started on the utter shite spouted by those clowns!), and it leans I can avoid the AGW propaganda quite neatly.

Odd - I'm a supporter of the BBC, and would hate to see it lose its funding model, but you wouldn't be able to tell from my comments ...

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Re: Not what it used to be

Amen. I was a keen Radio 3 fan, but then Classic FM panicked it and now it dumbs down to the point where i check to see if my radio dial has moved. No, this really is Radio 3.So now I put the headphones on and listen to various European classical-music stations and don't miss anything, as he really informative R3 discussion progammes are long gone

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This:

"Little wonder then that the middle class find the BBC a bargain - their prejudices and tastes are "super-served" by the corporation today, while their consumption is subsidised by the poorer socio-economic groups who get their news elsewhere" - and the explanation for this is bang on. I used to admire the BBC, then iit started to go sour, around about the time of the launch of iPlayer. I think it was the MS only platform (remember - iPhone started then, folks) and the cost to deliver that which suck in my gullet. I started to notice the online news become a little shallower in depth, which has become more apparent in the last few years. This 'New Media', which now is 'Digital Media' seems to be license to spout endless shallow content that you expect from Fox, but you would hope that Aunty would deride along the rest of us and stick to a well developed relay of the facts and decent analysis of the same.

What really saddens me, though, is the BBC Radio news. At one stage the Today program I admired, It seems that it also is starting to follow the trend of BBC News online. The obligatory 'find one person to interview about the subject and someone else who will just argue regardless if they can argue the point effectively' style of interviewing The regurgitating of news stories and pimping of non-news that seems to be Press releases half the time.

This will only get worse with the "BBC Twitter Push of '14". Oh Joy. Who, really, gives a crap if they twitter more? Just because a large proportion of the younger populace Tweet doesn't make it mandatory. They also do a lot of other things so what next? Live nights out and morning afters to engage with the yoof?

I'm sad.

None news aside, some still great content on the Radio. Though a little bit of danger of New Luvvies only in some cases mentioning no names oh go on then David Mitchell but not as bad as the news quiz. At least DM is rather funny. And factually accurate most of the time.

Plus the world service is still a great service.

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Re: This:

Yes, I agree, forget about twitter etc, and stop dumbing down what you have. People are not all stupid so why treat them so?

Also, a hint to the beeb, particularly the PM news team - I don't need a sound effect to accompany every other line of the news you are reading to me. I know what a police siren sounds like, so I don't need you to read the news over the sound of one, so I struggle to hear what you are actually saying, and I don't need a song to be played that "cleverly" contains one line that vaguely matches the story being discussed to keep being faded in over the story either.

Agree wholeheartedly with the interview/argue point, and in another hint to auntie - constant interruption and haranguing alternated with sounding incredulous is not being edgy, it is just rude. I'd rather listen to a dickhead make a dickhead of himself than have some vacuous presenter interrupting constantly to prevent the true extent of dickheadedness from being seen.

And while we are about it, let's have more saying things like "Last week Fred Bloggs died suddenly and..." instead of playing of a snippet of last weeks news when the announcer reads "Fred Bloggs has died suddenly today", fading it out, and then continuing. It is just plain annoying.

Sorry, rant over!

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Re: This:

I rarely listen to the radio these days - since Wogan quit the morning show I've really not had much interest (which says plenty about me, I suppose) but sometimes, just sometimes, I end up listening to the Jeremy Vine show and I always regret it. You can usually work out what the BBC's editorial line is on a subject by which of his guests he decides to argue with.

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Re: This:

The old Form over Content issue !!

Plagues lots of TV and Radio output

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Re: This:

"Plus the world service is still a great service"

Perhaps not universally known BBC WS is/was a window out to the world (funnily enough...) and used to be funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It is/was remarkably high quality - e.g., IMHO, best election coverage in 2010, thoughtful and without ranty point scoring politicians shouting over each other.

Now it's funded out of the licence fee - I hope but don't hold out much hope that it will stay as good. Already there is increased programme sharing with R4

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Re: This:

Totally agree! Radio news, while better than TV, is going downhill. the PM programme has become a sort of really bad comedy show, and Today just doesn't go into any depth any more. I recently found a complete edition of Today from 1986 online, and the difference is like black and white - in-depth, serious reporting, authoritative without being condescending.

But if you think BBC radio news is bad, listen to NPR here in the US for any length of time and you'll be logging onto iPlayer faster than you can say knife: everything seems to be promped by a new book or article in the new York times or the Washington Post, nothing on its own merit. I think I'd take John Humphies' gruff handling of a useless politician any day!

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Why do they call it a "trust"...

...when the people it is comprised of inspire the opposite emotion?

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Mushroom

Actually...

They should do the opposite.

Less video, smaller graphics, more real content on their own web site. Stop pimping the proprietary, privacy slurping, ad serving, 3rd party walled gardens of Twitter and Facebook, which are at best I suppose of some value if you don't have a major web site of your own.

Companies and Organisations promoting Twitter & Facebook are not bring traffic to themselves as much as simply helping Facebook and Twitter to make money.

Reith of course would have embraced every technology to promote the BBC, but Facebook and Twitter are neither promotional tools or technology, but Advertisement hoardings that are parasites on the Web. They add no value.

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Re: Actually...

I agree.

I just wanted to mention that the BBC aren't the only organisation to think that just introducing new technology will solve all their problems. I suspect that most of the companies we work for are making the same mistake..... if only we had Big Data all our problems would be solved....... if only we used the cloud........ out sourcing will hit the nail on the head (nail in the coffin more like).......

There seems to be a general unwillingness to actually look at what's causing the company's problem(s).

Obviously, as someone who works in IT, I'm not against new technology I'm just a little bored of all these "emperor's new clothes" attitudes.

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Re: Actually...

Was encouraging "answers on a postcard" part of a sinister plot to put money in the pocket of the Royal Mail?

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Not challenging

The bbc has been regurgitating government statements and corporate PR releases both on TV and online, without challenge for years.

Unless they actually investigate and challenge these releases there is no point in the news. They should be challenging these organisations on this stuff.

They might also want to follow up on some of the corporate releases. For example BBC news stories (especially online) concerning Microsoft are simply PR statements straight from MS. They never challenge MS' assertions that the latest OS is the bees knees regardless of feedback from users or sales.

Because of this the bcc is a sort of government & corporate billboard. You only really get the news if you can read between the lines or follow up the story at some proper journalistic outlet.

Radio 4 at least attempts to dig behind some of the news stories & challenge some of the statements, however they need a few more presenters. Listening to John Humphries trying to challenge some tech story is painful indeed.

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How to make news popular?

You're asking for news that's still basically about politics, just a bit different. But the other news outlets that aim to be popular don't do that. They go for celebrities, sport, bashing whatever group is out of favour and dissimilar from their audience, and inaccurate sensational stories about health and the weather. That seems to work pretty well. There doesn't seem to be much evidence that any sort of hard news can be very popular.

I don't think hard news has ever been popular with young people, apart from a few politics geeks. They're usually preoccupied with sorting out their own lives. That's just one of the reasons why they shouldn't be allowed to vote.

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Re: How to make news popular?

Have you seen the BBC News page recently? I can't believe you have. Most of the space is "Features", "Magazine", "Most Popular", and other dumbed-down stuff. What's "Most Popular" right now? The Return of the Dimpled Pint Glass.

One good thing - they block people in the UK from looking at bbc.com, because that's even more dumbed down.

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Re: people in the UK from looking at bbc.com

Outside UK it's been impossible to see full UK or N.I. news any more. bbc.co.uk automatically loads bbc.com

I gave up on BBC videos ages ago as all are prefixed by un-skipable adverts. Except many links that are really video are not "flagged" with the icon they use for video content.

What is the difficulty with letting people choose? Also surely only some video and audio need to be geoblocked. It's an insult to anyone resident in UK on a business trip or holiday and a bit naff for British Citizens who for whatever reason can't be living in the UK.

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Re: people in the UK from looking at bbc.com

"Outside UK it's been impossible to see full UK or N.I. news any more. bbc.co.uk automatically loads bbc.com"

Try it with Javascript switched off. I can see bbc.co.uk fine here in Europe.

WTF they demand Flash for listening to the radio is a complete mystery. NO I am not going to buy an Internet aware radio just for that, as they suggest.

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And I haven't yet seen an "infographic" that couldn't be better expressed as a paragraph.

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Happy

Infographics

News for those who are allowed to play with fonts and crayons but are yet to move beyond the picture book and animal sounds.

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Good infographics can be really good additions to a story and I'm a fan of them in general. http://gapminder.org has some great examples.

Of course, like the currency cat, they can also be completely crap.

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Flash?

As far as I know most mobile devices do not easily support Flash content.

However thr BBC seems determined to ignore this.

Could this be one reason the under 25s largely ignore the BBC?

As for dumbing down, most news media these days seem to have realised that it is cheaper to surf Facebook and Twitter for trivia than employ investigative journalists.

Have you noticed how much news at online sites for newspapers and in print is a rehash of another newspaper's story, with a credit?

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Re: Flash?

Yeah, I keep getting 'you do not have the most up to date version of flash installed' message coming up (on the admittely rare occassion I try to watch a news excerpt, I prefer to read). I check only to find I have the exact version installed (Archlinux), but it thinks I don't.

Seriously, Yahoo have more detail in their news than bbc.co.uk (and unfortunately three times as much mindless nonsense).

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JDX
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Re: Flash?

>>As far as I know most mobile devices do not easily support Flash content.

>>However thr BBC seems determined to ignore this.

Their live sport doesn't require Flash, and this is a welcome improvement. I think it's the same for coverage of music stuff e.g. festivals - I hadn't realised news wasn't the same,

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Disappointed by the BBC recently

I don't watch much of the BBC news on the telly, but I've been really disappointed and frustrated by the BBC website recently.

A poster above mentioned that it was reading more like a sensationalist magazine and I think that really is the case. It's starting to look more like a cross between Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail. As I look at the top ten stories now - here are some of them

* The man with 42 hours to get home

* The return of the dimpled pint glass

* We are all monkeys

* Has wealth made Qatar happy?

Just lots and lots of puff pieces really. Plus the BBC's inability to mention a news story without padding half of it with what someone or other said on Twitter is just frustrating.

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Re: Disappointed by the BBC recently

"Are you affected by the return of the dimpled pint glass? Write and tell us."

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Re: Disappointed by the BBC recently

Isn't the popular now piece auto-generated by what people click on? Which in itself is targeted by twitter campaigns to push random items up the list?

If you look at the BBC front page there is;

Sacking over poor elderly home care

Stop and search powers to be reviewed

Farage will not stand in by-election

Oklahoma inmate dies after 'botched' lethal injection

You pick you choose, its not all fluffy stuff.

Personally I watch Ch4 news as its more indepth.

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Re: Disappointed by the BBC recently

>As I look at the top ten stories now

You've missed the point. Those are the stories that people want to read (most). There's plenty more to choose from.

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personal data leaks

Every time a BBC presenter encourages/extols the use of "social media" by its listeners/viewers, there should be an accompanying data health warning. The Beeb is constantly "advertising" Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. alongside reports of identity fraud, cyber-bullying, and so forth. Its like promoting "sports drinks" alongside healthy living and obesity/diabetes warning programmes.

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Byz

All style no substance

The BBC used to be a place where the researched things thoroughly. The great shows like the Burke Special, Horizon (before it was dumbed down), tomorrows world (I know it could be crap at times)...etc

Now what they put out on horizon would have taken up 5 minutes 20 years ago, the amount of recaps, pre-caps...etc

The news is based on reading an article on wikipedia half the time and when they are not doing that they are placing articles in the news to subconsciously suggest things about the next article, while sweeping their own dirty laundry under the carpet :(

In the past I've had to complain numerous times about blatant inaccuracies and it is only after you complain about the initial reply that they take it seriously. They should rename it the ministry of misinformation :(

My kids don't watch it because they have brains and 90% of the current output is either written for the in-crowd by the in-crowd or to brainwash the masses with Eastenders :(

Mr Grade (the one who cancelled Dr Who...etc) has a lot to answer for.

The BBC used to be great for its output, whereas now it is pretty on the eyes but doesn't make your brain do any work, that's why they don't attract the young I only watch out of habit, but when my brain engages i change channel or put on some music (If you have cable or satellite go and watch PBS some great documentaries).

:(

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ignored because the preoccupations of the BBC

Yes as well as the excellent examples they are also obsessed with DAB, Facebook, Twitter and especially promotion of LBGT in as many programs as possible.

I actually support Reith's idea of giving people what they should get and not just what they think they want (there is ITV for that) but BBC today has a very very narrow viewpoint. The replies to criticism that does make to air on Feedback (the web site is strangely limited despite comments enabled on some articles) are extremely self serving and patronising.

Still have you watched / listened / read :

Irish State Broadcaster RTE

Italian Media

US TV/Radio

German TV

CCTV

Arriang

Russia Today

Even with the terrible short comings of BBC they are still better.

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Re: ignored because the preoccupations of the BBC

News on German public TV isn't too bad to be honest and it get's very local: from 19:00 to 20:15 I have regional, local and national news. I know my mum would love the 30 minutes given over to local news.

Channel 4 News is still a good attempt and informing and educating. Yes, the presenters still have obligatory Twitter handles but the fluff stops there.

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FAIL

No, NO, NO!

I'm sick to death of going to the "News" sites to see crap like.

#Breaking news in @London, Today #InLondon a #tubestrike has occurred. @TFL say #theywanttoreach an agreement.

Al-Jazeera is the place to go if you still want proper news.

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Holmes

W1A is a documentary

I listen to the World Service by preference as I find Radio 4 too London-focused; it used to be news bulletins with selections from BBC Radio features, but the features have been cut and the extra 'news' is full of opinions/feelings.

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No news is good news

When something momentous happens: some fool starts a war, the Martians land, a plane flies into a building then the whole country thinks "Hmmm, I should find out more about that" and accesses a news service - for big events and the BBC still seems to be the source of choice.

However, we live in an era where there aren't any wars (at least, wars in any timezone that are likely to cause us to flee our homes), the Martians have seen our TV programming and decided to stay away and there aren't that many crazies in control of aircraft. Under those circumstances, where most of the events that will actually have a material affect on most people are either political (new laws) or economic (no money) - both of which are abstract, complicated and out of our control, is it any surprise that most people don't actually care? It's not like the (good old) cold-war days, when the news programmes could dangle the threat of nuclear annihilation as a carrot to watch, and "big up" the fact that some foreign leader hadn't been seen in public and the new guy might press the button.

So what do the news people fill all these empty hours, on channels too numerous to mention, with? Stories about minor celebrities and who they snog, marry or avoid. Lurid, voyeuristic footage of suffering in far away countries and the random doings of sports "personalities" who can't string together a coherent sentence to explain themselves - if you know what I mean (harry).

In short, we have news broadcasts coming out of our ears, 24 hour rolling news channels that have 15 minutes of stories on a loop (and that hardly ever change at weekends as the news staff aren't working - but when most people would have the time to watch) for most of the day - and most of the night, too. Channels that are so desperate to cheaply fill their air-time and website space that they have descended into trivia and celebrity instead of going for depth and analysis. And using the televised, in-your-face, suffering of genuine victims, used merely to attract viewers: sitting on their couches shoving crisps down their necks, as people watch their houses being destroyed.

It is any wonder that most right-thinking people reject this form of "news" and only care about whether it will rain today, or if there are traffic jams on their way in to work? Having bigger or flashier graphics and tweets won't make any difference here, guys. The basic problem is one of quality and relevance.

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Re: No news is good news

Quite so. I call this "the curse of bandwidth".

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Anonymous Coward

employee benefits

Since I left they dumbed down the pension and redundancy terms, I didn't realise that they gave out benefits like private health and dentist, I thought it was only through approved tax dodging salary sacrifice, SSSI the employee is paying just gets it tax free.

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WTF?

Re: employee benefits

"* Perhaps because for a lucky few, they can buy their way out of such a fate. The BBC's generic recruitment page - here - includes dental insurance, critical illness insurance and private medical insurance amongst the perks. Just sayin'."

Hidden agenda maybe?? If you read the page it states under *VOLUNTARY BENEFITS*;

We also offer other optional benefits that can be paid through *net pay deductions.*

So its opt-in and paid for by the employee after tax and the employee is then additionally taxed benefit in kind by the government. (1) Hardly a free lunch but what I would expect from any large corporation (like FTSE 100 companies) that can cut deals with big health providers. You know the bit about trying to be nice to your employees, investors in people, all that stuff.

1) It's more annoying that the tax man feels everything in life is a perk and should be taxed, hot food the peasant class should eat food cold, Energy saving materials pah freeze you filth....

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Reform or die

Microsoft seems to have learned its lessons, and is changing. When will the Beeb?

I used to support the TV licence, now I resent it.

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Re: Reform or die

"I used to support the TV licence, now I resent it."

Me too.

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

Thomas Jefferson, 1779

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BBC Stop just Stop!

Stop regurgitating other people news stories and make your own

Stop taking the side of a particular party and report the news as is

Stop pretending all your audience are upper to middle class

Stop being so polite during interviews we want the hard truth not some tribal whimpering pandering

Stop pretending its your money your spending and not the license payers

Stop having an upper class Eton/Cambridge attitude to everyone else

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Populism and the Licence

My Dad worked for the BBC. He would from time to time tell us that the BBC felt it had to keep a respectable audience share - 30% to 40% - because it was paid for by the universal licence. So it would not, for example, tailor itself to the 5% who are worthy of a university education.

However, they are failing in their intended aims. Their liberal metropolitan attitudes are alien to about 95% of people.Change that, and you then ask why not leave the resulting type of programmes to commercial TV.

Indeed, in today's world, why have a BBC?

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Re: Populism and the Licence

Why have public service broadcasting? Because it is the only place you can really try hard to have something that is independent of both government and commercial interests.

Their liberal metropolitan attitudes are alien to about 95% of people.

I doubt that very much. It's probably true to say that not all of their attitudes are shared by a majority of the population. But that is actually fine if there is space for other reasonably held views - it's a mistake to think that giving equal time to everyone's point of view is balanced. Focussing more on professional journalism and less on fluff would automatically redress the balance.

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Re: Populism and the Licence

> audience share - 30% to 40% - because it was paid for by the universal licence

The logic is inescapable: what right does an organisation have to require a payment, if it provides nothing in return?

However, the idea that the BBC should cater for the masses falls into the "give a man a fish ... " category. If all it does is make itself accessible by adhering to the same standards of taste, intelligence and popular, faddish programme content as the commercial channels (and scheduling them head-to-head, then calling it "choice") then it's valid to ask: why have it at all, if it doesn't provide anything different or apply pressure to raise the overall standard?

For most people (well, most people here at least) the BBC has two unique properties: Dr. Who and no advertisements. Oh: and the silly notion that it's "free", just like the health service isn't. Given that the vast majority don't watch the programmes that have otherwise been tagged as "upper class" and "elitist", maybe the time has come to dump the licence fee and the ITV-esque (matron! he's using complicated words again) channels and simply have BBC2 & Radio 4 paid for by and only accessible to, the 40% tax-payers or those with a masters degree?

Or is it a case of: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?

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Re: Populism and the Licence

The main problem with the BBC news output is that it is basically The Guardian TV. When I worked there a large proportion of their external recruitment was done using adverts in the Guardian media section on Mondays, so it is hardly surprising that if you recruit using a certain newspaper that you end up with a disproportionate number of their readers among your workforce.

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Re: Populism and the Licence

Is that what you think a university education is - a reward for being 'clever'?

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