Silly, Silly Idea

What are these people thinking of?

A plan to end the BBC’s sole claim on the £3.2 billion licence fee and parcel it out to other broadcasters is being considered by David Cameron, The Times has learnt.

I\’m told that this is the sytem here in Portugal. You don\’t buy a licence, there\’s a tax on your electricity bill. That tax is then apportionedto hte various broadcasters based upon a mixture of audience size and lobbying ability.

Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Culture Secretary, said that in future the BBC might not be the sole recipient of the licence fee. “That’s one option because we want to make sure we aren’t exclusively dependent on the BBC for high-quality television. We want choice for consumers, and the BBC is not the only silo of good-quality television.”

Good lord, and this man is in the Tory party? "High-quality" something can only be provided by handouts from the taxation system? That would be why Eaton Square is such a slum as compared to Tower Hamlets then?

There\’s actually a very strong argument that rather than subsidizing the BBC (or any other broadcasters) we should be taxing them. They use a scarce resource, spectrum, and they don\’t pay for it (the ITV channels do, in a minor way). They should be forced to pay for it, in the same way that the 3G telecoms companies were.

Something of a problem though given that we don\’t in fact have an economically literate political party in the UK.

4 comments on “Silly, Silly Idea

  1. I reckon privatisation of the BBC is pretty close to #1 on Cameron’s wish list. It would be the best birthday present he could ever want.

    However, it is a big tiger for him to take on, and I think it would be tactically very stupid of him to make any intentions on this front clear before he is elected. If he flagged it now, the BBC would make sure he was toast. He is tactically doing the right thing making the correct noises about quality television, national institution blah blah.

    I would think it is something he announces very soon after elected. Does it quickly, clinically and without remorse, and lives with the flack (and there will be some), on the understanding that by the time of the next election, everyone will have forgotten about it.

    One other thing Cameron needs to do is get on side a certain elderly Australian gent of now American persuasion to back him. He will have no problem getting Uncle Rupert on side – Rupert would love nothing more. However, he is getting old, and the only questions are whether he will still have the energy to back Cameron on this in time for the next election, and whether his son James would also back him on this.

    Like it or not, people do still associate the BBC with quality broadcasting. It is a knee jerk reaction with little basis these days. It is a long time since the gems were produced and it is indeed an organisation that is out of control sitting on its past laurels.

    It is pathologically biased against its ‘hate list’ – the traditional family, Christianity, free markets and private business, America and Israel, the Conservative party. And biased in favour of its pet topics – Islam, non-traditional families, statism, any opponent of America and Israel (e.g. Iran, Venezuela), the Labour Party, MMGW. You can predict the angle on any news story before it starts. It doesn’t allow you to mention brands but says ‘Manchester United’ about 500 times a day on Radio 5 without realising that it is a brand, owned privately. Do the football clubs pay for this free advertising, or are we subsidising their riches through the license fees?

  2. Perhaps this is something the blogsphere could usefully put before the public. Obviously no politician can say this any more than they can propose putting VAT on newspapers However we are not dependent on the favour of such creatures.

    The method of privatisation takes some thought. Sell it as one company or separately for each channel, or keep the BBC, like railtrack, as an administrator who either auctions off airtime & its accompanying advertising or pays each programme on a set formula based on viewing numbers (if it was purely numbers it would be different from advertisers who pay more for ABC viewers). Or do we just lease or sell the airwaves to all comers (this might be very lucerative).

    Personally I would go for the Railtrack option with a multiplier for the type of programme & NO EDITORIAL INTERFERENCE. With a high multiplier for scientific programmes Martin “Global warming Swindle” Durkinw might do better than Big Brother.

  3. Why should the Tory party provoke a head on confrontation with the BBC in which the latter will use its control of the medium to manage the narrative to its advantage when an infinitely more subtle approach is available.
    Technological developments are under way that will result in increasing amounts of media content migrating to broadband internet. As 99% of TV is watched with the receiving instrument plugged into the wall for power and/or aerial broadcasting a radio signal is an anachronism. It can come down a cable with better quality, higher definition and an almost infinite number of channels. It’s not without reason that the BBC would like to see the Licence Fee extended to cover broadband connections. This has already happened in Germany.
    The Tories’ best policy is to facilitate this change. Restrict the Licence to TV’s receiving radio broadcasts. If a telecom provider wants to put a video stream down a cable why should this be any concern of the BBC? On that basis they should be getting a precept from every CCT camera in the country. Coincidentally & conveniently the conventional TV receiver is on the way out. The set-top box & video recorder started the trend two decades ago. Increasingly the display, the audio output & the box of tricks that makes it happen are separate modules. The future is entertainment streaming within the home. The demarcation between what we used to call hi-fi , video and TV is becoming so hazy as to be indiscernible. Now we’re getting Utube & internet radio, MP3 downloads & video streaming. A member of the public could experience 24/7 entertainment for a month without once enjoying any of the output of Shepherds Bush. Why should they pay Shepherds Bush for the privilege?
    Let the BBC keep its status as the nations public service broadcaster. Let them keep the revenue from the Licence Fee, with some subtle redefinitions. The public will applaud it. Meanwhile Licence receipts will steadily decline & as they do so the marginal cost of enforcing them will rise. Eventually the BBC will be dying of slow starvation. That is then the time that a canny Tory government steps in to rescue the viable parts by privatisation. It also gets the chance to sell off all those digital frequencies that will be redundant before the ‘Big Changeover’ is even complete.

  4. I think Cameron will get what he wants and easily so. Most of the damage has already been done, so Camers will just get to do what Tebbit used to masturbate himself to sleep over – the final destruction of the BBC.
    The Beeb has already had it’s balls ripped off by Campbell and Co and thanks to new DG, Mark “Gnasher” Thompson it’s guts have been opened up [a la samurai suicide] and now have spilled all over the Indy floor.
    The Current Affairs dept has been sliced to ribbons with the main movers and shakers either let go, moved or abandoned in White City’s numerous mini-departments. Some are hanging on by their fingernails but see their contracts ending and are contemplating either joining an indy or buggering off to Al Jazeera.
    News is living off shakey news standards and anyone who’s done more than a decade with the organisation has been promoted to a position where their half-brained idea is given credit.
    Anyone who’s done two decades can see bullshit and piss-poor journalistic twatisms for what they are and hope they can hang on until the pension offer becomes more appealing.
    The three decades lot have gone and they’ve had to launch a “journalism college” at the organisation that used to have that skill in excess because they drew people with exceptional talents to them, not bring in 21-year-old Cambridge and Oxford bimbos call Tarquin or Caroline who have done 18 months “work experience” at Channel 4 as a researcher cum coffee-getter and wouldn’t know McNaes book if you repeatedly smashed them in the face with it. You only need to teach journalism skills if people don’t already have them, and no-one at the BBC who does news or current affairs should be there if they aren’t already journalisticly savvy.
    It’s amazing to think the station is still hanging in there though.
    Effing and Blinding may well think there’s been no quality stuff at BBC, but I bet he watched State of Play and Life on Mars (made by indy’s, turned down by ITV and bought by BBC) and may have watched The Secret Policeman Panorama special a couple of years back. The same people who whine about the lack of family TV as of the 70s, watch Strictly Come Dancing and Cranford and instantly forget when they get in front of yet another Tory blog [or Labour for that matter] and berate the BBC, but conveniently forget who bloody awful Sky is.
    You’ll be armchair generals come the next war…

    (saying that though PJ is closest – the Tories will pick over the bones of the BBC, look for even more profits from what remains to be sold, and ensure their reign will not have to endure any spotlights or uncomfortable questions. Why risk an attack on a 45-mins to destruction claim – or a which-way-was-the-Belgrano-going question when you can just destroy the organisation which asks those questions.
    It’s worrying to think, but in the future, the only people who will ask the tough questions may well be bloggers. Problem is, by then no-one will hear them or even care. I mean, if a gnat farts in a forest, could anyone hear it if they were there or not?)

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