Classic bureaucratic move from the BBC here

A huge public outcry, including a petition signed by more than 159,000 people, has provoked a climbdown at the BBC, which promised to keep many of its most popular recipes online less than 24 hours after announcing the closure of its food website.

So the bureaucracy has to save money. In order to do so (and who the fuck spends £15 million a year on a recipes site?) cut the one thing lots of people like. Instead of the choccie biccies at the meetings, or the pensions or pay of those attending the meetings. when the public kick up insist that this shows that no cuts are possible.

Gaspingly transparent but sadly effective.

33 thoughts on “Classic bureaucratic move from the BBC here”

  1. Actually, there was pressure from the Government to cut the things that the BBC has no mandate for, like running a recipe website (or a news website, for that matter). But guess what? The BBC can’t even cut that.

    The recipe site is actually useful. But 15 million pounds a year? 15 million? I could run exactly the same site for $1500 a year.

  2. The Inimitable Steve

    Or one of their superfluous television and radio channels: BBC 3, BBC 4, the Asian network, etc. etc.

  3. Or perhaps a shot in the foot? They are supposed to be trialing a subscription model. Here is a prime candidate. Although it will undoubtedly fail commercially, even with such a large back catalog.

  4. How does reducing the number of recipies on their website save money? The only thing consumed is electricity, which is more-or-less the same whether you have 1 recipe on the site or 1 million. It’s not like the 1970s tape-wiping scandal where re-using tapes of Patrick Trouton’s Doctor was cheaper than buying new tapes and building another cupboard.

  5. Good grief, I see mountains of cookbooks available for pennies in every bootsale I visit and charity shop window I walk past.

    Have we become so lazy we can’t take a book down from a shelf & thumb through the pages any more?

  6. MC

    Indeed.

    Cuts in local authority funding? Then cut the things that folk will notice, such as road repairs, street cleaning and the kiddies’ section in local libraries. Never, ever, get rid of a couple of Corporate Directors and their legions of bureaucratic minions.

    My local council has removed two litter bins on our street — one from outside a take-away – because they are allegedly too expensive to empty regularly. Meanwhile, the grants to theatre groups, artists and sundry other wankers continue.

  7. It is my go-to site for a first approximation to a new dish.

    It is good to very good. Maybe the BBC shouldn’t be doing it (and at that level of cost they shouldn’t), but I like it.

    Still don’t believe the c**p they put out on the news though.

    It certainly ought to be monetisable through cheap subscrition and reasonable levels of advertising.

  8. Wasn’t there a Yes Minister episode about this (not a food website, of course; back then people did know how to read books).

  9. But yes, it ought to make money from advertising and it shouldn’t cost £15 million to run. Either do it profitably or flog it off.

  10. The Heinz Salad Cream gambit didn’t work with BBC3, gone from the channel list to online only and now Channel 5 is in HD as it was supposed to have been.

    Did work with 6Music though. The ‘right’ people got worked up about that one.

    I’m unsure if the recipe site is costing £15m. The Guardian describe it getting the chop *as part of* a £15m saving exercise. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the billions the BBC receive though.

    Also from the article: “A BBC spokesperson said: “We currently have two websites and we’ll move to one. ”

    I wonder how many other instances of needless duplication there are.

  11. It’s only effective as a small propaganda win, and even then, how many of those 150,000 are the sort of people who deep throat David Attenborough at every opportunity and refer to it as “envy of the world” at any available moment?

    Ultimately, in its current form, longer term, it’s fucked and nothing is going to change that. We don’t need the BBC supplying recipes. There’s dozens, hundreds of recipe sites out there that do the same job. Young people don’t want a license fee. To them, the BBC is just another media company, not Auntie. And it does the odd good thing that you can lump into “public service broadcasting” like Horrible Histories or that thing on BBC4 explaining the history of opera voices, but celebrity dance contests and cookery shows just aren’t.

  12. Gareth,

    “The Heinz Salad Cream gambit didn’t work with BBC3, gone from the channel list to online only and now Channel 5 is in HD as it was supposed to have been.

    Did work with 6Music though. The ‘right’ people got worked up about that one.

    The pity is that BBC3 actually had some good stuff on it. Some of it was a bit trash but Being Human was really good and Mongrels and Monkey Dust were the sort of experimental stuff the BBC should do. 6Music is just a load of old fucking indie.

  13. The Inimitable Steve

    If our Prime Minister wasn’t such a smug metropolitan establishment prat, he could easily spay and neuter the BBC – which is just the broadcasting wing of the Labour Party – permanently.

    Simply decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee.

    It’d be popular, cost nothing, and be very difficult for a future Labour government to reverse. (What, you want to arrest little old ladies and poor single mums?)

    In the meantime we’d enjoy the splendid fun of the Beeb scrambling to adjust to straitened circumstances and begging people to pay up.

  14. The Inimitable Steve,

    “If our Prime Minister wasn’t such a smug metropolitan establishment prat, he could easily spay and neuter the BBC – which is just the broadcasting wing of the Labour Party – permanently.

    Simply decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee.”

    Yup. Sajid Javid might just do it. He’s a Thatcher fanboy. He’s doing a review. We’ll see whether he’s loaded that with the right people to get the answer we want, though.

    The whole idea of the BBC is just fucking scandalous today. You wouldn’t create it today, so it should be mostly killed off. I’ve no problem with paying for CBeebies, but if that’s a good thing for little kids, we pay for it with general taxation, not forcing the parents of poor little kids to pay for it. I’m mostly not even convinced by the arts. Why does the BBC need to pay millions to fund The Proms when pretty much every piece of classical music has a dozen recordings on YouTube and Spotify?

  15. Handy recipe site, I use it a lot.
    I have hundreds of recipe books too. People can use both.

  16. The Inimitable Steve

    The Stigler – that would make me so happy.

    CeeBeebies is fine, but they only seem to have about 6 different shows and maybe 5 presenters. Which is OK, tots love repetition.

    However, since the Beeb is burning £15m a year just to post recipes on the internet, I hate to think how much Mr Tumbles is costing us.

  17. JuliaM

    Absolutely – in addition there are a number of Apps costing less than a fiver which contain huge numbers of recipes so the idea that people who are inclined to cook ‘need’ such a repository is faintly comical

  18. CeeBeebies is no better than similar kids’ package shows on other channels. In fact, it’s worse in some ways, because most of the shows are limp-wristed, non-threatening PC pap that kids find pretty boring pretty quickly.

  19. “Yup. Sajid Javid might just do it. He’s a Thatcher fanboy. He’s doing a review. We’ll see whether he’s loaded that with the right people to get the answer we want, though.”

    I would’t get your hopes up. I think with the Brexit issue Javid proved that he’s really a wet blanket. Like most Tories.

  20. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

    My local Labour concil’s latest ploy is to cancel the garden waste bin collections, because it’s something people ( presumably especially garden owning tories ) will notice.

  21. Tel,

    “CeeBeebies is no better than similar kids’ package shows on other channels. In fact, it’s worse in some ways, because most of the shows are limp-wristed, non-threatening PC pap that kids find pretty boring pretty quickly.”

    I just mean that I’m pretty cool with that sort of TV being produced for kids as basically, a free, government supplied thing. Strictly Dancing Hasbeens should be optional.

  22. Bloke in Costa Rica

    If it is a) something people want (hence valuable) b) not part of the BBC’s remit to provide then instead of nuking it, auction the fucker off. Whoever buys it gets the copyright in the data and the CMS to keep it running. Rebrand it with some new logos, have a redirect from BBC food for a couple of months until the engines have spidered it and you’re done. How the buyer would monetise it is an open question, but that would figure in how much it raised at auction.

    Adding new content to such a site in a way that maintained quality in the absence of supporting infrastructure (in this case BBC food shows doing the heavy lifting of creating and validating new recipes, doing the nutritional breakdowns etc.) would be a cost, but I doubt it would run eight figures a year.

  23. My mother is a hardcore ‘keep your hands off the BBC its a national treasure’ type. So I explained to her that we have a local radio station here called ‘BBC Radio Herts, Beds and Bucks’. There is also a ‘BBC Radio Essex & Kent’ (or whatever). So mum – why do we need that? Immediately she accepts the example, and in doing so accepts the principle – we are only discussing the size of the cuts and where they fall. And we have already agreed the first candidate list.
    Simples.

  24. The BBC don’t make programs anymore. The whole enterprise consists of a bunch of commissioning editors buying the talent and programs, who are overseen by a massive bureaucracy which in turn is run by a bunch of failed politicians.

    No wonder they support the EU.

    So of course, when the politicians threaten to not give them the huge increase in the licence fee that they demand, (‘massive tory cuts’), they can’t get rid of any of the permanent parasites so they cut the product.

    We can observe the same sort of behavior in the NHS, the Armed forces, the Education system or any of the large NGOs.

  25. Jeez. How many recipes do we ever actually cook anyway? I’m sure one decent generic cookbook would supply every recipe you ever needed. After that it is all celebrity chef bollocks like Histonblom or whatever his name is cooking a pork chip wrapped in a yak’s stomach using a flame thrower after it’s been coated in whale sperm and buried on a beach for a week.

  26. I want a recipe to give me a solution to a problem such as this : I have an onion, a pork chop, a can of beer, some carrots and a banana. Can I make something wholesome out of this? The BBC site is no help

  27. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Yes. Eat the banana. Shred the carrots and onions into a pyrex and place the pork chop on top. Cover with foil and bake in a medium hot oven for 45 mins. Remove the chop and cover it to keep it warm. Put the onion and carrot in a saucepan, add the beer and reduce it to make gravy. Pour over the chop. Yum.

    Bilbaoboy is right. The chief virtue of recipe sites is as inspiration for when you can’t decide what to eat and to get a rough idea of ingredient quantities.

  28. Richard,

    Wasn’t there a Yes Minister episode about this[?]

    Indeed there was. I always think of it as the Sir Humphrey “close the children’s hospitals first” Appleby maneuver myself, although obviously it’s much older.

  29. “How the buyer would monetise it is an open question, but that would figure in how much it raised at auction.”

    It would actually be difficult to monetize. The reason why people like my wife use it is because, as well as being reasonably good, it’s free ((at the point of use). Also, it comes out near the top of Google searches. But if you had to pay for it I don’t think she and most other people would bother — there are plenty of other good free recipes on the web.

    And that’s the problem with the BBC in a nutshell. They have lots of viewers, as they’re always boasting, but ask the viewers to pay upfront and it’ll be Tumbleweed City.

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