"A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room."
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 …
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).
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.
"A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room."
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.
"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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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?
“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.”
"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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The noted jurist and legal philosopher Judge Learned Hand had the most concise statement on this subject.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
Sell BBC1. It's aimed at the same market at ITV etc so we shouldn't be funding it.
Ditto Radio 1 and 2. No need to fund that with public money.
Close BBC3 on grounds of taste.
Put electrodes on David Shukman's nipples and send a decent current through them every time he mentions carbon, climate change or global warming.
Radio 1 effectively has two distinct personas - the painfully commercial daytime schedule, and the outstanding specialist programming broadcast between 7pm to the early hours. Radio 1 is easy to dismiss for its daytime output (although despite the moronic presenters, they at least manage to cycle through rather more new music than any commercial competitor) but Radio 1 in the evening is to new music what Radio 4 is to spoken word broadcasting and is truly world class.
BBC should drop the light entertainment dept and stick to factual/news/public broadcasting, let those who want to watch cooking and talent shows pay for that and keep the licence fee at a lower level to cover costs. A lot now pay some form of subscription for TV already, and it seems to be a successful business model.
But the day the BBC starts accepting advertising is the day I sell the telly.
Subscriptions, yes - but to be honest I can't see any other UK channel that could have made e.g. last night's 'Inside No. 9' and I'll miss stuff like that. BBC2 and BBC4 and Radio 4 and Radio 2 and the rest can go hang.
"But the day the BBC starts accepting advertising is the day I sell the telly."
Good move, 60 years of TV advertising is what got us The People of Walmart on the left side of the Atlantic.
Not going to post the URL for the People of Walmart website as it ain't pretty.
As an optional subscription service those 'opting in' well end up paying same money for half the service.
The problem being that with half the service even more may drop out so you could then end up at 'pay double' for half the service.
Of course the top brass will find it attractive for its 'big bucks bonus culture'.
What does an airline actually own? The aircraft are leased, the logistics, aircrew and catering are contracted in, etc. An airline seems to own only the brand and the business model.
The BBC seems to have the old Ford's of Dagenham raw materials in at one end, cars out at the other, vertical and horizontal sprawl
Which is fine until flexibility and agility are required. Channel 4 and Netflix signpost a future in which a broadcaster can adopt the airlines business model and it seems that the BBC is behind the curve.
This would strip out swathes of overpaid middle management and strategic co-ordination roles. Or paying the "right price" for talent,
And that's before one considers whether the BBC is trying to do too much, the wrong things or how it should be funded.
Well that's fine if you want to do what airlines have been doing lately - namely racing to the bottom.
The BBC have already been moving in that direction - take the sale of BBC Outside Broadcast to SIS in 2008. Was supposed to save money, but of course it didn't. SIS Live are now getting out of the OB game because the BBC didn't renew their contract (because SIS Live turned out to be both expensive and inferior to the old in-house operation). Now lots of ex-BBC OB staff - techies, not managers - are likely to be out of a job, the BBC has no high quality in-house OB like it used to and no money has been saved.
And how does BBC R&D fit in with the airline model? Obviously, it doesn't.
I'm sorry, but I want my BBC to be like a proper airline that serves free meals and will give you that extra bottle of wine with your chicken/beef with a cheery smile, and not like Ryanair. If that's not stretching your analogy too far.
I completely agree that swathes of overpaid middle management and overpaid "talent" are a problem, I just don't think that outsourcing everything is a solution.
Producer choice in at least one case (I have no reason to doubt this was the only one) in which I was involved ended up with with an external production company making programmes for the BBC using BBC facilities and staff for cheaper rates than would have been charged internally... a ridiculous conceit. It also ended up with meetings being held in hotel rooms and conference centres while BBC meeting rooms remained empty - because it was 'cheaper' and ignored the fact that internal costs went back to the BBC while external costs were real money out of the door.
Birt had a lot to answer for, but mostly I think because he listened to MBAs... people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, and think that if they have a report with numbers in it then they're controlling it.
Though it didn't help that government requirements to use external companies to make programmes just ended up with the predictable result of the programme makers inside the BBC moving outside in droves and continuing to make the same programmes the BBC was already paying them to...
Shakespeare was wrong about killing all the laywers: first, we start with the MBAs. The laywers can wait.
Um, try looking at it from another angle: Let's say you are aware of some wonderful back-catalog BBC shows (yes, there's lots of crap on TV these days, but it isn't and wasn't all crap) but have the misfortune to live outside the UK? There is currently no legal way to access this content online (no, I am not going to pay 30 pounds (sorry, no "pound key" on this keyboard) an hour for DVD ownership of something I'd like to watch once).
So, what about subscriptions, and uh, forget the stupid geographical restrictions? I am NOT the only one who would sign up for that one. You could get us foreigners (we foreigners? wee foreigners?) to help shoulder the load, possibly still commercial-free. BTW: lots of commercials over here, even on the government-subsidized channel - that's what DVRs are for. Just record the stuff you would otherwise watch "live" and skip over the commercials...
"wonderful back-catalog BBC shows (yes, there's lots of crap on TV these days, but it isn't and wasn't all crap) but have the misfortune to live outside the UK? There is currently no legal way to access this content online"
You can get BBC programming on Hulu and Hulu+ in the U.S. I have no idea on Hulu's availability in other markets.
Here's a link to what BBC programs are available:
The BBC iPlayer Global app – iOS only – lets you watch archived BBC content for a subscription. It's been available since 2011.
That's little consolation if you don't have an iOS device, but there are strong hints that the BBC are planning to roll out an international version of their web-based system through the bbc.com website, rather than building umpteen mobile / tablet / desktop apps instead. (Apparently, this is in direct response to Hulu and Netflix's success.)
Some problems with that;
1.) The current belief that private is always good and public is always bad means anything that depends on taxation is denigrated (cf schools).
2.) Politicians struggle to keep their fingers out of everything - put it into taxation and they'll want to controlevery little moment.
3.) The giant media corporations already do their best to undermine the Beeb, so that the public will be forced to rely on the drivel and pap they use to fill the gaps between the adverts; make it open to political control and the lobbyists will kill it off.
4.) Once it is paid for by taxation it will be seen as just another service to be slashed ( see 2 above).
As to the subscription model - that means having to rely on giving people the sort of poor quality slop that keeps them paying to watch celebrities being silly.
At least the licence fee and the Royal Charter give the BBC nominal independence from the state.
Because a letter from the head of state telling you what you're allowed to do, and a law made by the state that comes up for review every few years, gives you freedom from the state.
I wish people would stop parroting this propaganda.
Great idea! Lots of Upvotes.. However, the powers that be will have the whip hand when the The Beeb come begging for the cash from the Treasury. Less cash, poorer output - and goodness knows what sort of pressure to paint the 'powers that be' in a good light, no matter what, in order to receive the cash to continue..
Great idea, but unintended consequences...
The so called tax pays for some of the finest programming in the world, consider how much most of us pay for cable or satellite telly on a monthly basis and equate that with the quality of the programmes delivered. I am an ex-pat and would happily fork out $100 a month for BBC access. If you think the mindless pap you get there is bad you really need to spend some time on this side of the pond and watch some really really shit TV. Mindless pap is a compliment to most of it and it makes Channel 5's offerings look like Bafta award winning material.
Please tell me you are kidding. I buy DVD's of the films and TV I really like because if it is good I will want to watch it again. The most recent BBC production I own is the original house of cards (I think). I dont mind the specials of top gear but I wont go out of my way to watch it. In fact there is nothing on the BBC I go out of my way to watch.
Compare that to the many shows on sky I happily paid for and waited to watch on various channels and have bought a lot on DVD because they are worth watching again.
The BBC could fund itself from advertising revenues like any other television network, rather than denying children in poor families a vital source of entertainment.
Are you aware that the average household pays far more for the advertising-funded channels through their weekly shop than they do for the TV licence? How much would you be willing to see prices go up at Asda or Lidl to pay for an advertising-funded BBC? Or are you assuming that existing advertising budgets would just be spread more thinly, so that all the TV stations would have less money to make programmes?
Except for one small point: every TV company in the world funded by advertising (i.e. all of them except the BBC) is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The BBC is in the business of selling programmes to viewers.
It's *not* the same, and once you look past the populist drivel of soaps and game shows, you see the difference.
@ Neil Barnes
"Except for one small point: every TV company in the world funded by advertising (i.e. all of them except the BBC) is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The BBC is in the business of selling programmes to viewers."
Not doing a very good job then. If you have no interest in Dr Who then there isnt much to watch. I have no problem with people liking various programs on the BBC but what have they released that drags in the viewers apart from Dr Who (I aint a fan sorry)?
The good argument in favour of the BBC is for shows like panorama and question time but how many channels does that take up? Some people like their news, I prefer to read it online if I am bored as anything with political leanings is extremely biased.
I did try to watch their recent show 'The Musketeers'. With poor acting, a plot for kids and a lack of anything to watch ended that quickly. So again I watch nothing on the BBC yet I pay for other people's entertainment. It sucks.
The BBC isn't in the business of doing this though, they don't have to sell anything, they get the money either way. That is entirely the problem. They do make the odd good thing that brings in high viewing figures, they have to otherwise they would be laughed at. But everything else that is not headline is utter rubbish and a waste of the money they receive.
Also, if you like the service, that is completely fair enough. But why do you think people that do not like the service should be forced to pay for it so that you can watch it? It is more socially based rubbish used as justification to take money off everyone for the good of the few used all the time in this country and one of the reasons i resent the country more and more.
@both codejunk and bigtimehustler: you're both saying that what the BBC produces is not necessarily to your taste. That's fine; the world would be a worrying place if we all liked and disliked the same stuff. But look at it the other way: the BBC produces material that appeals to a minority as well as to a majority audience.
To be sure the independents have learned this trick to some extent: they can make high production value (i.e. expensive) dramas, thrillers, and so on - but they do this because they get audience share, not for the passion of generating good TV. The good TV is an almost accidental byproduct... what you don't - as a rule - see on the independents are the depth and range of subjects covered by the Beeb - can you really see ITV doing 'favourite railway journeys' or 'six boats that made Britain great'? Never mind the range of political, financial, historic, musical, technical, scientific... and that doesn't even look at the light entertainment stuff.
Sure, there's plenty I don't watch on the Beeb but what I do watch is rarely bettered by advert-funded channels.
High viewing figures are not the be all and end all of good TV - unless you're funded by adverts.
@ Neil Barnes
"you're both saying that what the BBC produces is not necessarily to your taste. That's fine; the world would be a worrying place if we all liked and disliked the same stuff. But look at it the other way: the BBC produces material that appeals to a minority as well as to a majority audience."
You hit the nail on the head. I dont pay for Marmite either because I dont like it. I dont care if other people like it and so buy it, that is their freedom. I dont care if they produce content for the 1% and the 99% if I aint in those groups then why am I paying for someone elses entertainment (not a critical thing like health)? If I drive a toyota I dont want to be paying ford because some other people like it. If the BBC is so good then let the people who want it pay for it. If it is so bad that it cant survive that way then it either needs to appeal to the people paying or fail.
"To be sure the independents have learned this trick to some extent: they can make high production value (i.e. expensive) dramas, thrillers, and so on - but they do this because they get audience share, not for the passion of generating good TV."
Contradiction of terms- they get audience share and not for the passion of generating good TV. If you want people to watch it must be worth watching to some people. High value shows exist because people want it. The BBC has an unfair advantage of this tax yet they fail to make many good shows (and none which appeal to me).
"The good TV is an almost accidental byproduct... what you don't - as a rule - see on the independents are the depth and range of subjects covered by the Beeb"
This is where the few minor reasons for keeping the BBC exist. Yet this could easily be on fewer channels while scrapping the rubbish. Or by using their advantage to make good shows. But as it stands the BBC is such a waste of my money I am considering giving up live TV so I dont pay them for the nothing they provide.
"Sure, there's plenty I don't watch on the Beeb but what I do watch is rarely bettered by advert-funded channels."
That works for you. But I skip adverts happily and yet ALL the shows seem to watch are on advert funded channels. None (bar the once in a few month try to find something, often failing) are on the BBC.
"High viewing figures are not the be all and end all of good TV - unless you're funded by adverts."
Somewhat true but not a good sign. If people dont want to watch the channel then they probably wont want to pay for it. I dont care if you like a fancy statue I hate, pay for it yourself if you like it. But forcing others who appreciate something different to pay for your ugly rock isnt nice nor will it make the robbed happy. The same applies with entertainment.
<I'm not sure quite why I'm arguing so hard for the BBC: I worked for them twenty-six years and then they sold me off to Siemens, which I was less than amused by...>
I can see the point of your argument, but I wonder what happens to the common good if everyone follows the same logic? I use the roads, but I never use the A9 from Edinburgh to Aberdeen - should I pay for that bit? Yes, because others do and they help pay for the A505 that I do use. I like Marmite - and buy it - while you don't, and don't. Fair enough. But the only reason I *can* buy Marmite, and you can buy marmalade (other spreads are available) is not that some entrepreneur has spotted a gap in a market - it's because there *is* a market in which to have a gap. The infrastructure exists because the costs of that infrastructure are spread over a hundred thousand different products, suppliers, and purchasers. The common good is important.
The definition of 'good' TV will of course vary by the viewer's expectations and tastes. I will be the first to admit that the BBC produces some (to me) absolute and utter crap - yet, to my shock and horror, people watch it and seem to enjoy it. Must be good to them, then? It seems that my tastes and yours are unlikely to be congruent - but I suspect that we could both agree on whether a particular programme, irrespective of content and irrespective of whether we *liked* it or not, was 'good' or 'bad' in terms of production values, as vague and subjective as those terms are.
It's interesting that elsewhere in this thread people have advocated both that TV is an absolute necessity and that it is unnecessary; that it should be provided for all and that it should be provided only for those who want/can pay for it. It's also been pointed out that the TV licence is not a tax and that it does not directly pay for the BBC. I'd add to that the point that although the independents in the UK regularly clamour for the licence fee to be removed, I suspect that as soon as the BBC started taking advertising, there would be such a cry for it to be forbidden - I know where I'd put my money if I were an advertiser; the BBC is a *very* strong brand.
But it does occur to me that the way do to what you're suggesting already exists: stop paying the 'BBC Tax' and do everything online, using paid services. The choice is there.
@ Neil Barnes
"I use the roads, but I never use the A9 from Edinburgh to Aberdeen - should I pay for that bit?"
Of course, because you do use the roads and you do have the freedom to all of the roads with no additional cost (bar london with the hated congestion charge). That is similar to the idea of paying for a sky package that doesnt include sports but accepting you probably contribute to the sports entertainment. That is perfectly acceptable because if you want the virgin service you do not pay for their rival 'sky'. Owning a TV does not cause the BBC tax, watching anyone's live broadcast regardless of who or what technology automatically forces you to have to pay for the BBC. Even if you want nothing to do with them.
"The definition of 'good' TV will of course vary by the viewer's expectations and tastes."
This is the perfect argument against the BBC on 2 fronts. First it is fair for a person to pay for what they want without being forced to pay for something completely disconnected from what they want. This is the free market system our entire working world pretty much works on with very few deviations. Second the BBC has this ridiculous advantage so surely they should be able to make something for almost everyone. This is across multiple channels and no need for adverts! This huge advantage gives us TV which I dont find interesting and a few people I know dont watch it either (not a large sample but surely this should be almost none). And all of these people watch a lot of TV/video.
"It's interesting that elsewhere in this thread people have advocated both that TV is an absolute necessity and that it is unnecessary"
It isnt quite a necessity, entertainment is. However in this country there is limited entertainment of any affordable price and so TV has taken the slot almost exclusively for a lot of people. And as we agree people have different tastes. And the BBC have a huge advantage over everyone. So why do so many people not watch the BBC? Why dont the BBC use this advantage to make good shows? They had Sherlock and Dr Who (not my interests but I accept they were popular). They even had a popularity show didnt they (dance I think)? They have a kids channel which might be popular? So how many channels do they need if this is their content we are forced to pay for if we want to watch shows of our own interest?
I used to accept the BBC on the basis of their news. However it leans so hard and is so badly biased on anything with a political impact that parts of its news are more propaganda.
The BBC is a strong brand which seems to be so due to its history. I would like the BBC to either become interesting or cut back. The only other alternative is for me to give up on live TV no matter how much I would like to support the channels that DO bring interesting content. Instead buy DVD and use online catch up services. Something the BBC recently considered putting a price on!
The UK is one of the few places on earth where television actually works. Even ITV has some fairly decent programming since there is the BBC trying to make good television without any fear of loosing their income. In Germany for example, public TV stopped caring about quality and commercial stations noticed they neither needed to care.
The UK system works. Sure it has flaws and isn't perfect, but it's better then what the rest of the world has. Please, I beg you, don't throw away what you've got.
I would like to lend support to that point. I have lived in the UK for the last 15 years. You don't know the value of what you have, and you won't know until after you have destroyed it through greed, ignorance and indifference. Shame on you. The BBC is worth every penny, and more.
I've lived and worked in a number of countries and *nothing* comes close to the BBC in terms of quality. And, yes, most continental European countries not only have their own state-funded TV stations, but those TV stations _also_ have ads, and produce nowhere near as much quality content. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licence – check out Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Still think the BBC is terrible value for money?)
Considering the tiny budgets the BBC makes its programming for – even Doctor Who is made for a fraction of the cost of typical US telefantasy productions – it's a miracle they produce as much as they do, let alone produce content that many other countries, including the US, are willing to pay for. And at least you're not getting ads *and* having to pay a license fee regardless, as Italians, Germans and French TV viewers do.
While I agree that the license fee is not an ideal form of payment, it is by far the least worst option available at present.
And no, the Queen does not count as "state interference". Yes, she's the head of state, but she's apolitical – she has to be, given how long she's been in the job. The Windsors, for all their faults, do at least provide a level of long-term continuity, countering the short-termism endemic to elected representatives. This is one of the few advantages of a royal family, and one that shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. The UK could certainly do a better job of making use of this feature of a monarchy, but it absolutely should not remove it. Not unless they can come up with something better.
The original post asserted that playing the national anthem on TV is government propaganda. It isn't. Closing each day's TV with a party political broadcast by the prime minister would be government propaganda. Broadcasting the national anthem at closedown, although perhaps archaic these days, is not, any more than a US TV station that broadcasts the President's "State of the Union" address would be a "propaganda mouthpiece". The Queen represents the permanent state, not the transient government.
Whilst so-called "road tax" goes into the same big pot of general taxation as everything else (at least in the UK), if you don't have a motor vehicle, you don't pay road tax.
Electric bicycles with a motor power of less than 250 watts and a top speed of less than 15mph do not count as motor vehicles in UK law, by the way. Your mileage may vary, but considering you're calling it "a motorway" and not "a freeway", I guess not.
Also little 50cc thingies that aren't allowed on motorways pay vastly, immensely less road tax than a car or more powerful motorbike.
What this has to do with the goggle box, I have no idea. Nevertheless, next please!
M Gale - *NOBODY* pays "Road Tax" and haven't done since just after WWII, you are taxed on your ownership of a motor vehicle but you don't get a discount because "I don't use that sort of road, therefore I won't pay for it."
I'll spell out what this has to with the Goggle box: It's just like someone saying "I don't watch the BBC therefore I shouldn't have to pay for it." Is that clear now?
(Oh and BTW, if you ride a motorbike, which does not contribute to congestion and causes less damage to a road than a small car, you *still* have to pay VED, even though its capacity is less than those cars which are exempted from VED.)
The colloquial term is road tax, and you can wriggle as much as you like. If you're on a scooter, which can't go on motorways, you pay massively less tax on it. If you're on a bicycle, you don't pay any tax on it.
And it's still a stupid analogy, which has nothing to do with the idiot box. However, your insistance that I call road tax "vehicle excise duty" shines a light on the whole "it's not a tax, it's a license" bullshit. It is a tax. On the idiot box.
It needs to go.
You are mistaken, if someone wants to watch television in the UK but never watches the BBC they still have to pay the BBC TV licence.
The fair way to do it would be a subscription, where you decide if you want to watch the BBC (not television in general) and if you do not want to watch the BBC you do not pay the subscription.
The BBC tax is unfair (technically: regressive). The reason being that everyone pays the same amount, irrespective of their ability to pay. The modern trend with taxation is for the rich to pay more than the poor. Sure, there are some subsidies available with the BBC licence fee, such as a 50% reduction for the blind, but otherwise if you're on the minimum wage you pay the same licence fee as if you earn a million a year.
As far as hypothecation goes (tax paid to finance a specific thing), yes it is - and that level of transparency is good.
However, once the money gets given to the BBC, all transparency is lost. Who decides whether "our (TV) taxes" should be spent on a new costume drama, or adding stuff to their website, sending hundreds of staff on a foreign "jolly" to cover an event, or pissed against the wall on a digitisation plan that was totally mismanaged? The public pay billions every year for all these things, but the democratic process fails completely in giving us any say on where "our" money gets spent, or who gets to spend it.
"The BBC tax is unfair (technically: regressive). The reason being that everyone pays the same amount, irrespective of their ability to pay."
The BBC License Fee is not a tax. The clue's in the name. It's a part of the price of owning a TV; the TV itself merely provides the machinery with which to receive the broadcasts.
The BBC is a Corporation with a Royal Charter, not a subsidiary of a government ministry. It is a legal entity that has been granted very specific powers. This is an uncommon form of business these days, but it's the same mechanism that was used to create the University of Cambridge, the East India Company, and the Bank of England.
Also, how is everyone paying the same amount "unfair"? I don't get a discount on shoes, clothing or food based on my "ability to pay", so why should I expect a discount on a luxury item like a television set? Do Sky give you a discount on their subscriptions based on your level of income? Do Tescos give you an "I never watch TV adverts" discount on the stuff you've bought from them?
A television is a luxury, not a basic necessity. I haven't owned a TV since 1996, so it is most certainly possible to live without one.
> The BBC License Fee is not a tax. The clue's in the name.
It's a tax. Merely changing the name fools nobody (well, almost nobody - just ask the people who live near
Windscale Sellafield). As for the wiki-gasm about the BBC's legal status? Well, nobody cares about that distinction, either.
As for why the tax is unfair, it's a shame you never managed to read past my second sentence or you would have seen the reason why that is.
So you don't have a TV - that's nice, if irrelevant. Some people choose to go without carbs, or meat, or clothes¹ too.. Does that mean they are "luxury" items? No of course it doesn't. So far as having a TV is concerned for a lot of the lowest paid workers, and those who don't/won't/can't work a TV is a necessity. If you have children there is nothing comparable to keep them occupied. The same can be said for adults, too, especially the housebound - if you can't afford other ways of occupying your "leisure" time, then a TV is vital. That's one reason why you find TVs in all parts of the world from Manhattan to Somalia. People are willing to forgo better food in order to have some source information and a way to add a little "sunshine" into their lives.
 The naked rambler.
Except that isn't true is it. If I don't want to watch any of the BBC channels but do indeed want to watch Discovery channels on sky. I do have to pay the tax. What you mean is that if i don't want to watch all live TV so as to avoid the BBC I don't have to pay the tax. Thats not the same thing, it forces people who would otherwise do without the BBC to pay the tax unfairly.
But that's because the tax is not 'to watch the BBC'. It's to receive and watch real-time TV. The grant the BBC receives from the government - and has to negotiate for every few years - while on the same general level as the expected tax take is not the exact value.
The tax from the independents is on every item you buy, whether you watch it or not. And when you add in a subscription as well... that's adding insult to injury.
Perhaps you in the UK could adopt the model we use on the left side of the pond: Pay exorbitant cable/satellite rates AND contend with a ridiculous number of ads AND have to put up with the ever-increasing (in both number and physical size) and highly distracting promo ads for upcoming shows in the corner of the screen. All for shows that are of dubious quality at best. And that doesn't even count the channels that are *all* ads/infomercials/shopping.
Personally, I'd jump at the chance to pay an annual fee/tax and be done with all forms of commercial advertising on television..
I still can't understand why they are going on about Subscriptions.
That ship sailed when HD boxes came on the market and there were no card slots.
The majority of Freeview equipment in use today does not have any conditional access equipment, and therefore it would require everyone who wanted to continue watching the BBC to replace their equipment, that simply is not going to happen.
The best they could hope for would be a phasing in (over at least a decade) of a subscription - but that would require manufacturers who are currently making the cheap freeview kit - adding CA to their kit and still keeping the cost down.
If it turns out that the UK Gov switched off Analogue - while promising that Freeview would still provide access to the channels, a pay once, watch forever deal (the freeview advert still says that) and then now that there is no-way back they change the system - there will be absolute hell to pay.
I think many people are more than happy to pay £140 odd each year to watch TV without adverts interrupting what they are watching, where you get 3 minutes from the end, then 4 minutes of adverts before they give you the final 1 minute of the show and then credits.
Could the BBC *really* show Watchdog slamming down on Company X when Company X is a major advertising provider? (yeah, you wanna show that, you lose millions in advertising, understood?). Lack of adverts allows for better impartiality for us, the consumer..
Not that I watch much TV, maybe an hour a day, but even then I think it's worth it to not have Top Gear cut down by 12 minutes just to show adverts.
Always surprises me that people still don't know that you don't need a licence for a TV if you aren't watching or recording programmes as they are being broadcast.
I know TVL are a PITA, but if you genuinely don't watch or record live TV, tell them to eff off and take you to court, then just bin any correspondence you receive from them. They've no legal right, as far as I know, to 'inspect' your equipment. Just don't lie about it and unplug any receiving equipment from the aerial/satellite sockets.
Even easier with smart TVs these days, plug into network and carry on watching catch up TV to your hearts content. Just don't watch anything live.
...from having that talentless smirking POS John Birt put in charge of it. The same formula seems to have been applied to nearly everything else since then, ie: destroy anything that works, usually by throwing accountants at it. Why don't we just sell the entire country for scrap and emigrate?
The BBC should be split into two halves.
One half should be funded by the public purse (taxation, license fee, whatever) and do public service broadcasting. e.g. apolitical news & current affairs, documentaries, etc. Maybe even trialling new technologies.
The second half should be either advertising or subscription funded (but not both, it shouldn't be another Sky) and do the rest of the commercial pap.
The problem with these sorts of "thought experiments" is it tends to come across as an advert for lobbying services.
There might be a lot of cruft at the BBC, there may have been some dumbing down, it might not be very consistent.
But NOTHING compares to the cynical commercial exploitation of any sports fan, or of any other media made outside of the UK, or of any media that may appear in a cinema.
Both Sky ITV and the whole host of "pseudo-channels" padding the spectrum with fake quizs, hypnotic selling, advert-pepper replayed content, etc etc etc all profit handsomely by slicing and dicing the content you can see.
Let us all remember that there are powerful media forces, and the government that would all love to have a much smaller BBC to bully into their service.
It may need reform, but the decoupling from "taxation" has kept it largely away from the whims of government....
... documentaries like Michael Moseley comes up with? Pain, Pus and Poison? Eww! Nobody wants to watch that!
Or what about Danny Baker's Rockin' Decades? A bunch of people sat around a table nattering about music? Too boring (the fact that the guy has forgotten more about music than most people know seems to be irrelevant).
And The Sky at Night would get the axe because it has no mass-market appeal.
I'll leave the last word(s) to Mitch Benn... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3q2iZuU5WM
I don't enjoy paying the licence, but I have seen some American shows and they can be obscene in the amount of blatant advertising. If you want a funny example watch an episode of Top Chef!
All the kitchen equipment is name checked by manufaturer, the cameras linger on the logos all the time. The contestents don't just go and get ingredients, they take the Toyota Rav4 to Wholefoods. They have to include Philadelphia cream cheese in the recipe for this challenge, etc.
I realise it's how the show is funded though, these companies are providing the equipment and prizes because there's no other way of funding it
The concepts of "TV channels" and linear-viewing are essentially alien to anyone under-40: they're all grabbing stuff to watch on their mobes and tablets and don't really care about the provider or what 'channel' it is on.
My issue with the BBC is that as a potential TV-viewer you're obliged to fund it even if you never intend to watch it: imagine the outcry if you were obliged to pay for copies of The Guardian even if you only ever read the Financial Times and Country Life?
[My house has been BBC-free for the last couple of decades. I don't have a TV licence either]
Convert rhe BBC intoi a subscription-service? Yes please! [alas, as someone else has said, the tacky "freeview" boxes don't have any kind of conditional-access/viewing-card mechanism, otherwise your annual TV-licence could have included a card to enable your box to decode the BBC channels].
Yes we moan about the licence fee, but what's the alternative? Watch ITV? I'd rather sh*t in my hands and clap!
We've got enough detritus on TV with Big brother, Strictly come dive with me, Jeremy Kyle, mind numbing soaps (they should seriously have a health warning stating long term exposure will turn you into an ignorant drama queen), and enough cooking and "talent" shows to numb the mind of even Steven Hawkins.
Certainly, by far and away, the BBC has the greatest wildlife and science documentaries in the world by several light-years. The factually tepid rivals, such as the penguin movie voiced by Morgan Freeman simply highlight how lucky we are. No matter how much money other enterprises from other countries throw at their own attempts, there is always that tangible stain of "dumbed down" that decades of catering to the lowest common denominator always leaves.
I would be out on the street with Molotov cocktails if they attempted to take one penny away from these. The vast majority of outspoken complainers simply don't know how lucky we are. If you'd like an education, try watching American TV! You'll be kissing the ground in Heathrow airport and offering up your first-born to David Cameron to get back in after a week!
I certainly agree that the BBC does need more focus, though. In the technology fields, there does seem to be a lot of wheel reinventing.
> the BBC has the greatest wildlife and science documentaries in the world by several light-years. ...
> I would be out on the street with Molotov cocktails if they attempted to take one penny away from these
Better get the firebombs ready then. Their latest financial statement (for 2012/2013) shows that BBC2 had it's funding cut by £6M (that's a lot of "one penny"'s) compared to the previous year and BBC4 suffered a £2½M cut. BBC1 on the other hand (not known for its documentaries: science, wildlife or otherwise) gained over £120 Mil. Even though the corporation as a whole received £50M less than the previous year.
It would appear that Strictly (that is a BBC show, isn't it?) is where the funding is going and "serious" programmes are being cut to pay for it.
It's not a fire service. Or an ambulance service. It's not even the police. It's not a school. It's not a hospital. It has fuck all to do with your life that is essential beyond plonking your arse down in front of a screen and vegetating. Don't give me that but-must-provide-educational-programming bullshit. That can happen without a tax. It's called "government owned", which the BBC is.
Now get your fucking hands out of my pockets and pay for it yourself if you want it so bad.
Although the BBC is not perfect by any means it is still massively better in value than Sky / Virgin and has far better content than Ad only channels like ITV and 4. So if people want to scrap the BBC a suitable replacement where you can listen to Ad free Radio and watch Ad free TV for £12.13 a month needs to be offered. This for me is vital on the radio as the Adverts are so terrible!
The BBC is a massive market distortion which is kept alive by the licence tax. It inhibits competition in this market. It delayed adoption of digital technologies back in the mid 1990's.
I read someone here complaining that it would just be more cooking programmes. So Come Dancing is cultural education? It produces truly miserable programmes like Holby City, Casualty and Eastenders. Really, does the country need to be made depressed at it's own expense? These programmes would not be made by a commercial companies because there would not be a market for them. Do they sell abroad competing with programmes set in places with faultless weather? Not a hope except to that small set of places with a local community of ex-pats nostalgic for a cloud over their heads.
Of course the BBC does produce some good programmes. With the resources it has at it's disposal at least some of it's programmes have to be OK in the same way the a broken analogue clock shows the right time twice a day. There are so many examples. Comedy is one. Why would any other station attempt to put on comedy shows when the BBC stamps all over the market inflating costs. Mock the Week and Have I got New for You are funny. Live at the Apollo is funny too. But they block out many aspiring comedians and shows. The result is the same few people on our screens telling jokes and in the same style. Perhaps the only other example if 8 out of 10 Cats but that's shown on BBC-lite, Channel 4. Oh, and pretty much the same cast of characters. By the way, does anyone else but me think Stephen Fry is over exposed?
Do we need 4 BBC TV channels and CBeebies and 6 radio channels plus the countless regional channels? Does the BBC need reporters everywhere? Very often the BBC lunch time news is on when I have lunch and I'm dismayed at how many time the 'news' is regurgitated stories form Yahoo! or some other site.
It's probably due cost cutting so the staff can continue to receive their benefits. How much did staff get paid over their contractual limit when fired? How much was the BBC paying 'celebrities'? I'm happy to go on and on but you get the message. The BBC is a massive and legally mandated market distortion.
Back in Reith's day it was necessary to build new infrastructure for the BBC - transmitters all over the empire, support companies creating radio and TV sets, devise standards, build studios - a massive project and expensive. So there was the choice of funding the generation of a whole industry and the nascent BBC out of general taxation or a hypothecated tax and a special tax was chosen.
However that time has passed. market is mature, the studios built and the standards used are set by bodies outside the UK. It's time the BBC were cut free. Those who want the BBC can, like Sky or Virgin Media users, buy subscriptions.
ok I'll bite.
1) Pass a law then, subscription channels by corporations, but make it illegal to have any advertisements within a program, and perhaps mandatory publishing of ratio of "unique content/repeat content".
2) have programs jammed full of adverts.
Anything else is a ripoff to consumers.
How about while were being radical, all paid for (subscription) sports to be shown without adverts? Mandatory.
Let's call it the "sole source media funding act".
The reason the BBC is the least worst option is because it is people who make art/music/telly we watch, and there is a degree of risk in producing a product that your customers are not forced to buy.
Not a problem had by "channel resellers" as they just buy what's popular, and some even have exclusive contracts to deliberately inflate the price.
What we have now is the BBC (option 1) or the worst possible mixture of paying exorbitant rates for 1) divided into ever smaller chunks and actually getting 2).
Turn the BBC into a non-profit. It would therefore be freed of the requirement to bow to the Establishment (i.e. whichever party is in power at the time) for fear of being dealt a rough hand in the next Charter Renewal (so for example on the news front could move towards more balance with an aim of impartiality); while it would also be freed from the commercial pressure to produce "safe" programming that would attract oodles of people to watch adverts. By being non-profit, it would be responsible only to its viewers, and if the revenue department was a completely separate division from the programming department with minimal links between the two, it could produce programming for everyone, rather than the top donors. Alongside the change, severely cut back on management roles and replace the crust with fresh meat.
I think part of the problem with the current output of the BBC is that it tries to be everything to everyone, so understandably fails because different demographics have different preferences. Having said that, perhaps they could donate the formats for many BBC3 shows to Channel 4 and Channel 5, and have quality programming aimed at teenagers / young adults instead.
Heck, quality programming and high viewings aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and needn't be lavish dramas that soak up bucketloads of cash. Even with game and quiz shows, there must be a middle ground between the mindless tat seen across many channels (including the BBC) and those perceived as 'highbrow' e.g. University Challenge, Mastermind. Perhaps take a leaf out of the concepts of Countdown and Millionaire - a challenge that sounds simple, but is deceptively complex. The more highbrow shows also don't need large pots of prize money to motivate the contestants - the experience alone, with possibly something relatively low value such as a mug, dictionary or small trophy as the ultimate prize.
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