What’s wrong with a slimmer BBC?


8:00 am - March 4th 2010

by Claude Carpentieri    


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Calls in favour of reducing the cost of running the BBC by 25% haven’t gone down well. Facebook campaigns are being set up and accusations are being flung that the cuts are “politically motivated” to butter up the Tories.

In short, the sceptics argue that weakening the BBC will be a gift to its private competitors and a blow to public services on both radio and television.

I am totally in favour of the BBC. I think a competitive state-owned TV is sacrosanct and whoever thinks the BBC should be dismantled and/or privatised is purely driven by rampant ideology.

However, the current cost of a TV licence is £142.50. In 2000, it was just £104. In ten years, an increase of around 36% – without anyone asking licence payers if they agreed with the way the corporation expanded.

Aside from areas where everyone agrees the BBC was “largin’ it” (i.e. Jonathan Ross’s salary), why does the corporation have to cover so much stuff: from news in 32 languages through TV channels abroad all the way to Radio Times?

Are we sure it is the duty of a UK taxpayer-funded public service to include, say, BBC Canada? Then why not BBC Denmark or BBC Spain?

Is BBC Prime really that essential? Are we certain dismantling it would be “allowing the corporate media barons to have (it) their way”? And how about BBC Lifestyle for Singapore and Hong Kong?

Does the BBC need so many radio stations (in succession: One, 1Extra, Two, Three, Four, Five Live, Sports Extra, 6 Music, Seven, Asian Network)? And, yes, it’s a shame if 6 Music went. But it’s not as if music was dying before its creation.

Does the website need to be so gigantic? If it was a tenth its current size, it’d be already one of the biggest and most effective online resources available. What’s the need for comprehensive gardening or travel sections? Again, are we sure that’s a public body’s obligation?

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t come for free. Many would rather have a slightly smaller BBC and a slightly reduced scope but an improvement in quality and service. Many others would rather the TV licence didn’t go up faster than inflation.

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About the author
Claude is a regular contributor, and blogs more regularly at: Hagley Road to Ladywood
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Reader comments


You seem to be assuming that the Radio Times and BBC Canada etc are loss-making. If this is not the case and they either break even or return a profit to the licence-payer (and bear in mind that in foreign countries the BBC has adverts) then what possible objection can there be to having them? Indeed, until someone has researched whether they are loss-making (though, of course, loss-making enterprises sometimes are in the public interest), no one can speculate on whether, if they were abolished or sold, there would be upward pressure on the licence fee instead of downward (for any gains from a sale would obviously be temporary).

As for foreign-language radio services and the BBC Arabic TV station, these are funded by the Foreign Office, not by the licence fee. So while you can have a debate over whether we should fund them, it’s a separate issue from the licence fee.

It is very important for the editorial independence of the BBC that the licence fee should be fixed for long periods and not constantly reviewed. The disadvantage of using straightforward income tax or the like is the greater difficulty in fixing the fee long-term. Parties would have to agree that it was not subject to annual spending reviews and would remain fixed as at present.

If the BBC website is cutback, I think it will be a very great shame. I also cannot understand the logic in halving it. Surely the vast majority of BBC web content must consist of legacy and archive material (e.g. thousands upon thousands of old news stories) which require no maintenance and can simply be kept online indefinitely.

2. Flowerpower

I think a competitive state-owned TV is sacrosanct

A small quibble, but an important one: the BBC is not ‘state-owned’, but an example of a different model of popular ownership. It belongs to its licence payers directly and is run by an independent trust.

The BBC is far from perfect, but a state broadcaster would be worse.

Re: 2

The state can prosecute you for not paying that license, so I feel that’s a rather cosmetic distinction in some ways.

Agree with the article, it’s what I was banging on about in the other thread but phrased rather more skilfully.

4. Adam Lucas

Anyone not happy about the licence fee should see what Sky offer . . . . £16 of utter trash “Celebrity Dogs Go Shopping” before you get the chance to pay for some semi-decent stuff. The BBC is incredible value. Think of the alternatives, rabid neo-cons and/or corporate Mcdictators setting the agenda – unthinkable.

I resent the Tories allowing Murdoch to dictate their media policies. The BBC should stick up to the bullies.

Frankly, I think the Murdoch family are pure evil, they only care about their business empire . . . they have some toxic values . . . God knows what family get-togethers are like, like a board meeting in a funeral home I expect.

5. Adam Lucas

Slight typo . . .

When I said: “£16 of utter trash” I meant “£16pm for utter trash”. Everything else stands!

And what’s with this new BBC philosophy: “making space for the commercial sector”? As if big corporate interests need protecting!!

Re3
The state can also prosecute you if you steal from a private company, by watching tv (even if you don’t watch any of the BBC channels), you are, in effect, stealing, in that the law says you must have a licence to receive.
In fact, the state intervenes, in one way or another, with all private companies and will act against any individual, who contravenes the law, against any one of those companies.

BBC Canada is part of BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC. It is not ‘state funded’ (not directly at least)- in fact it makes a profit.

I’d rather the BBC stop providing the same dross as the commercial channels put out – i.e. most of what’s on BBC 1 and Radio 1.

BBC 1 costs £1.4bn/year. BBC 4 costs £0.07bn a year. I know which one I think better represents what I think the BBC should be producing.

Get rid of Jonathan Woss.

Stop paying newsreaders £92,000 (thanks Lord Foulkes).

Get rid of Strictly Come Dancing.

Get rid of all the shit on daytime TV.

All of this will save a lot more than cutting quirky music and the Asian service.

A lot of the people calling for the slow death of the BBC are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of the cancellation of Asian Network. “A White Network would be considered racist,” they say.

Are these the people you want to line up with, Claude? I suppose you do support the Afghanistan war.

10. Mike Killingworth

Quite agree about Sky – why they haven’t been made to unbundle I don’t know (although I think they are beginning to as their business model may not work so well in a recession/depression).

There is one problem with Claude’s analysis (and that of all those who say “the BBC is wonderful but…”). If it really belongs to us, the licence-fee payers, why can’t we elect its governors – or board of directors or whoever it is that hires and fires its top executives – ourselves? What is the argument in favour of having some political appointees do it?

Are we sure it is the duty of a UK taxpayer-funded public service to include, say, BBC Canada? Then why not BBC Denmark or BBC Spain?

Is BBC Prime really that essential? Are we certain dismantling it would be “allowing the corporate media barons to have (it) their way”? And how about BBC Lifestyle for Singapore and Hong Kong?
These are not funded by the license fee. They’re funded by BBC Worldwide and, in the cases of BBCs Persia and Arabic, by the World Service.

12. John Meredith

“In short, the sceptics argue that weakening the BBC will be a gift to its private competitors”

I mostly agree with this article but just want to reiterate that the BBC does not have ‘private competitors’, it does not have any competitiors, that is, or is supposed to be, the point of public service broacasting. If it is in competition with the private sector is is self-evidently unjust.

Re: 6

I think bringing the issue of theft into this is unwise; nobody would argue that watching Coronation Street without a license could be classed as theft, no matter how true the analogy would be for Eastenders or 24.

14. Mike Killingworth

[12] An interesting point.

What might I be doing if I wasn’t listening to BBC radio or watching BBC TV? Well, I might be listening to or watching one of their commercial rivals, but equally I might listen to a CD or MP3 of music I bought earlier (radio) or to a DVD of a film I’ve bought or rented (TV).

If such competition is “unjust” it certainly isn’t self-evident to me. You might as well say that Tesco and M&S face “unfair” competition from Waitrose.

12
As I have already mentioned on the previous thread, the BBC has to compete for staff and for resources such as sports coverage. Even the NHS has to compete for staff. There is no straight-forward business model to appeal to as it’s foot is in both the public and private sector. Consequently there is a good argument for being both competative and non-competative.

13
Not so, the licence covers the receiving of television broadcast, consequently, watching ‘Eastenders’ or ‘Coronation Street’, without a licence, is still against the law eg.you are stealing broadcasted material. But the point is that state legislation covers both the public and the private, the law does not stop at the door of plcs.

17. John Meredith

“As I have already mentioned on the previous thread, the BBC has to compete for staff and for resources such as sports coverage.”

But it does not have to compete for income, which is really the point. In the usual sense of the word, the BBC does not have competitors. It needn’t even ‘compete’ for resources such as sports coverage, because not winning them will not affect revenues. Do you think Sky would compete fopr the sports if it made no difference to the bottom line. And the BBC has massive advantages in competition for broadcasting talent, precisely because it need not have commercial concerns.

This is what the licence fee funds directly:

BBC One and BBC Two, the BBC News channel, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Parliament, regional versions of BBC One and BBC Two, BBC HD and Red Button interactive services;
Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Live, and on the digital-only stations 1Xtra, 5 Live Sports Extra, 6 Music, Radio 7 and Asian Network;
national stations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and 39 English local radio stations;
the entire BBC website and iPlayer;

Some commenters rightly pointed out that BBC Canada and all the abroad channels are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But the irony that escapes them is that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is the government, therefore it’s publicly (read taxpayer)- funded!

Then there’s the so-called “commercial wing” of the BBC.

Blanco,

All of this will save a lot more than cutting quirky music and the Asian service.

It’s not really an Asian service though. Hardly any Asian people listen to it, and it has lost hundreds of thousands of listeners recently. If you ask me, the Beeb has included 6 Music with Asian Network as a sort of bargaining chip. Save 6 Music then it looks like a concession to public opinion, but the Asian Network is definitely getting canned.

20. John Meredith

“If such competition is “unjust” it certainly isn’t self-evident to me. ”

Well, think of it like this, if Manchester United were awarded a £140 annual tax from every person in the UK who attended or watched an Premiership football and enforced through the jailing of defaulters, would you think it a little unfair on the competition? I am pretty sure you would. That is because Manchester United are in competition with the other premiership clubs (well, four of them, anyway).

QUOTE: “Does the BBC need so many radio stations (in succession: One, 1Extra, Two, Three, Four, Five Live, Sports Extra, 6 Music, Seven, Asian Network)? And, yes, it’s a shame if 6 Music went. But it’s not as if music was dying before its creation. Does the website need to be so gigantic? If it was a tenth its current size, it’d be already one of the biggest” UNQUOTE

—————————-

Toxic stuff. Is Claude Carpentieri a pseudonym for James Murdoch?

The usual “I am totally in favour of the BBC … ” start, before some of the closet hatred takes over.

This is supposed to be Liberal Conspiracy, if I wanted ‘ConservativeHome’ or ‘Guido Fawkes’ blog’ I’d go there. Don’t do Murdoch’s and the Tories work for them!

I think the BBC is incredible value for money, yes fully open to criticism – bot don’t cut down it’s size or budget … it needs it in this era of corporate megamedia. I’m not in the slightest bothered about “making space for the corporates”, choke the bastards, they won’t hesitate to do the same if (when) they get the chance.

The BBC is an expensive anachronism that distorts the market for media.

When there was only the technical ability to broadcast a few TV and radio channels it could be argued that the license fee made some sense. Now that cable, satellite and DAB allow the broadcasting of multiple channels it is only logical that the public should expect to pay directly for the media they want to consume.

The argument that this will result in a loss of quality in programming may be true but is wrong headed. Overall we will get the quality that is demanded by the appetite and intelligence of the audience. If that transpires to be, in your and my view, trash, you are welcome to join my Misanthrope Club.

But the only rationale for producing an expensive drama series or running an experimental music channel when there is an insufficient audience to make it commercially viable is that someone, somewhere, is saying that there is a public interest in trying to upgrade the intellectual content of what the public watch or listen to. Might have been arguable with three channels but not now.

And I’d rather pay to subsidise George Osborne’s ticket to Covent Garden and watch Somalia’s Next Top Masterchef followed by Wheelchairs On Ice than pay that person to patronise me.

23. John Meredith

“I think the BBC is incredible value for money”

Well, good for you. But the point is, or may be, that you might find it less good value for money if the people who don’t watch it weren’t forced to pay for it and the full cost fell on people like you who get the benefit. This argument from personal preference misses the point. We know that many opeople like the BBC and want others who like it less to have to share the cost, but is that right? I am guessing that you would be unchuffed at the idea of having to pay for Sky TV whether or not you watch it?

Hardly any Asian people listen to it, and it has lost hundreds of thousands of listeners recently

99% of statistics are made up on the spot. Not everything is black and white ( (C) Guiness

Simon A

This is supposed to be Liberal Conspiracy, if I wanted ‘ConservativeHome’ or ‘Guido Fawkes’ blog’ I’d go there. Don’t do Murdoch’s and the Tories work for them!

I think the BBC is incredible value for money, yes fully open to criticism – bot don’t cut down it’s size or budget … it needs it in this era of corporate megamedia. I’m not in the slightest bothered about “making space for the corporates”, choke the bastards, they won’t hesitate to do the same if (when) they get the chance.

And if I wanted TrotsUnlimited.org I’d have gone there, too!

Blanco, the stats are publicly available through Rajar. You fail.

27. Shatterface

‘Toxic stuff. Is Claude Carpentieri a pseudonym for James Murdoch?

‘The usual “I am totally in favour of the BBC … ” start, before some of the closet hatred takes over.’

Pretty much demonstrating how hysteria has devalued the word ‘hatred’ to the point of utter uselessness.

I’m starting to miss Sunny.

28. Mike Killingworth

[20] A ridiculous analogy. Why do you use it?

The BBC provides a lot of educational/experimental stuff that the market wouldn’t. If you think it provides unfair competition, you could say the same about the NHS vis-a-vis private clinics or state schools vis-avis Eton and Roedean.

Perhaps you would. But, as Simon says [21], you can’t do that and pretend to be anything other than a gung-ho free marketeer.

29. Strategist

@22 Pagar, your position has an intellectual coherence, although I don’t share it.

A couple of questions for you:

1) If there were a totally free market for media, pretty quickly we would see a Murdoch monopoly enforced through buying out of competitors, price war on those competitors who refuse to sell, denial of access to the satellite platform to others, perpetual cross-marketing of Murdoch channels in his print media and so on. Would you be content with that situation? What “distortions” of an entirely free market would you be prepared to accept to stop this happening?

2) What Murdoch would do with his monopoly is the two things he is already doing, but many times worse: (i) ensure that all politicians are very clear that if they want a career, they do what he wants (ii) get to work on the opinions of the British public.

People accept & believe what the get from the TV, even more than they do from the print media. A British Fox TV would be given the task of shifting the “centre of debate” far to the right, ruthlessly denying airtime to “liberal” and “left” opinions, so that over time these points of view would become counter-intuitive, literally unthinkable to the British public. It’d be the same form of media blackout that the BBC already practises, x100. Beyond that, I don’t doubt that Murdoch would be quite happy to use his channels to whip up public hatred against dissenting voices, so that they could be physically silenced if the media blackout wasn’t working.

Would be prepared to accept distortion of the workings of the totally free market to stop this happening?

30. Mike Killingworth

[29]

Beyond that, I don’t doubt that Murdoch would be quite happy to use his channels to whip up public hatred against dissenting voices, so that they could be physically silenced if the media blackout wasn’t working.

Interesting. About six weeks ago I sent Sunny an article outlining how this could come about. He declined to publish it.

Claude:

I think we need to be clear about one thing here.

What the Foreign Office funds is the World Service and, particularly, foreign language broadcasting.

Although editorially independent of the FO, the World Service is an important arm of British foreign policy.

What is does, in the main, is broadcast uncensored news into regions where local news reports are heavily censored by oppressive states.

This explains why the World Service recently underwent a major reconfiguration of its foreign language services, cutting almost all of its Eastern European services, which ran through the Cold War but have now become redundant, to refocus largely on its services to the Arab World, which now include a TV news station that competes with Al-Jazeera.

In short, there is no way on earth that any British government will scale back the World Service, least of all a Tory government.

18 Claude: I accept that the fact that certain services are funded by the Foreign Office doesn’t exempt them from the debate over whether they should be publicly funded. But we should separate those from the debate over the level and existence of the licence fee. In other words one must be careful not to imply that if we cut back on World Service radio then we’d have a lower licence fee.

It is also important to note that some services are profitable and are part of BBC Worldwide. If they did not exist, the BBC would obviously cease to make money from them and so presumably the licence fee would have to rise, not fall, or further cutbacks would have to make. It is wrong to suggest abolishing a profitable service as a way of cutting costs! That is what you gave the impression of suggesting.

8 Rik, you suggested cutting BBC1 and Radio 1. That would be the perfect way (though it’s not your intention) to undermine public support for the BBC (perhaps fatally). It would also mean a severe reduction in the opportunities that most people get to watch TV that is mercifully free of commercial advertising.

33. Strategist

@30 While the cat’s away (backpacking), the mice shall play!

This is a terrible attempt at an article, full of assumptions and inaccuracies about services and funding.

£142.50/365 = 0.39

It’s forty pence a day. That’s not even per person. That’s per household. Think about that. Actually THINK about it. Think about the value it represents. What else can you buy for 40p a day? If you think that’s not good value, you’re some kind of ideologically driven free marketeer headcase whose opinions on most topics should probably be written off out of hand.

Re: 16

But that’s what I’m saying, in moral terms if you watch Eastenders without a license then it’s clearly stealing, but Coronation Street doesn’t see a penny of license fee money so the analogy breaks down.

All I’m saying is that the offence of theft is the wrong paradigm to use in any discussion of license fee ethics, it’s more like a refusal to pay tax.

This doesn’t affect any discussion about whether the tax is fair, of course.

36. Mike Killingworth

[33] A nice idea, but I don’t have the necessary tech skills. Anyway, it would be a low blow to take advantage of SH’s absence, don’t you think?

37. John Meredith

“It’s forty pence a day. That’s not even per person. That’s per household. Think about that. Actually THINK about it. Think about the value it represents. ”

I find this sort of argument really infuriating. Yes, I know some people think it is good value. But it is only such good value for them because those that disagree are forced to contribute too. And 40p a day is not an insignifcant sum to many people or even most people. I wish the people who think 40p a day to be negligible would have just a little senstitivity and think twice.

17, 20
You are attempting to apply an analysis of the BBC based on market theory, as you point-out, it is publicly funded but it also has to compete, in the same way as the NHS. The BBC is more analogous to the council tax in which we are charged for services we don’t use eg ‘meal on wheels’.
Part of the BBC’s public service comittment was to educate (whether you agree with this or not is a different argument) this is why opera, classical drama, and many other genres with a limited audience is produced. It goes without saying that if people are unaware of their existence they are not going to demand them, this is why simplistic market theory cannot be applied.
In fact, many years ago I worked for a private publisher who would load the price of best-selling books in order to cover the cost of producing books for the niche markets, I believe fly-fishing was one of them.

Some commenters rightly pointed out that BBC Canada and all the abroad channels are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Except as has been repeatedly pointed out, BBC Canada is not so funded – like BBC America, it is a franchise operation ultimately funded by Canadian consumers who pay for the advertising that appears on it. It is 80% owned by CW media, with BBC Worldwide having a 20% stake. Quite a few of the programmes it buys are actually produced by ITV or C4.

Now if, hypothetically, you owned a rival US or Canadian station, you might have some kind of point that that is unfair dumping. Given that you probably don’t, then as it doesn’t seem to be prohibited by law or treaty, and does makes money for the thing you do very likely have a stake in, it seems a strange thing to complain about.

I think we need to balance the status quo with what the tories may intend.

First, the independant channels aren’t free, consumers pay towards them through the price of goods they buy. I’m sure free market fetishists will argue about the amounts, but in this case you very much get what you pay for.

Second, even though he’s a craven tosser Thompson is more independant than any of Murdoch’s editors. Remember the Digger owns The Times, The Sun and the News of the World in the print media and all of Sky. If the torie’s plans to reduce the Beeb go ahead we will have very little mainstream alternative media to argue with Uncle Rupe. That really worries me.

Strategist @ 29

The answer to your Murdoch question is a simple one.

The government has failed over many years to implement coherent competition legislation in the area of media as well as in many others. That Murdoch should have been allowed to build up the UK media empire that he has is a disgrace and we can only assume that successive Labour and Tory regimes have been bought off.

The government have the duty and responsibility to allow a free market in print and broadcast media and to prevent domination both within and across media sectors. To do so they should control the technical infrastructure and license the airwaves to ensure a diverse range of programme makers can have access to air their content.

I can understand why people are afraid of Murdoch’s power- they are right to be. But it could be easily sorted by a less pusillanimous and corrupt government.

BBC Canada and America etc are part of the commercial arm of the BBC and operate independently of any licence fee funding

43. John Meredith

“Part of the BBC’s public service comittment was to educate (whether you agree with this or not is a different argument) this is why opera, classical drama, and many other genres with a limited audience is produced. ”

If only. How much opera and classical drama can you find on tthe BBC? Now compare with reality TV and soap. That is what we are complaining about.

I can understand why people are afraid of Murdoch’s power- they are right to be. But it could be easily sorted by a less pusillanimous and corrupt government.

If it is ‘easy’, presumably you can point at some government somewhere in the world that has had some level of success in doing so?

In a modern liberal democracy, media owners simply have more power than elected governments. It is pretty much just the way things are, something that would take a change in government system to alter. Journalists dictate laws, judges get to demur if they can find a rival faction of journalists to back their position. Politicians have only the most incidental and procedural input to that process.

It is really hard to blame anyone for losing a fight with someone more powerful than them: exhorting them to go charge the machine gun nests one more time hardly helps.

43
Why do I have to repeat myself? I have already said (post 15) that there is a good argument to be both competative and non-competative, do I really have to spell it out – I enjoy folk-music, which doesn’t get played on many stations, BBC 4 is my favourite tv channel, also, it serves the function of introducing this genre to people who otherwise may not be already into folk.
The BBC also provides programmes for a mass audience, in other words, it also responds to demand.

Re: 43

Actually there’s quite a lot of opera and classical drama on BBC4. A minute’s research before commenting can go a long way!

47. John Meredith

“Actually there’s quite a lot of opera and classical drama on BBC4. A minute’s research before commenting can go a long way!”

There really isn’t. Opera is very rare and classical mucis barely noticed except during the Proms. I don’t think I have seen ANY classical drama. And we are, of course, talking about the tiny part-time ghetto of BBC4. Where is this stuff on BBC 1 and 2?

48. John Meredith

“The BBC also provides programmes for a mass audience, in other words, it also responds to demand.”

And the question is ‘why?’. If there is a mass demand, it will be supplied by the market. Why should the BBC not, for example, supply the demand for porn? Because we think the BBC is for ‘public service broacasting’, don’t we?

In a modern liberal democracy, media owners simply have more power than elected governments.

Sorry Soru.

Media owners can have influence on who gets elected but Governments have control of the means of violence within the state and can do anything they like providing they retain the allegience of the armed forces.

So they are, quite clearly, much more powerful.

That successive governments have not controlled the development of the Murdoch monopoly is, as I said, shameful. But, given the will, they could easily destroy it and they should do so.

Re: 47

“And we are, of course, talking about the tiny part-time ghetto of BBC4. Where is this stuff on BBC 1 and 2?”

Wish I knew.

51. Strategist

@49 pagar “Governments have control of the means of violence within the state and can do anything they like providing they retain the allegience of the armed forces. ”

An interesting take on our unwritten constitution!
I think they need first to pass a law to make “anything they like” legal…
On the latter, I suppose there is some protection in the Queen – she only assents to everything handed to her out of convention, so I wonder if something very outrageous could get refused royal assent?

@41 “The government have the duty and responsibility to allow a free market in print and broadcast media and to prevent domination both within and across media sectors. To do so they should control the technical infrastructure and license the airwaves to ensure a diverse range of programme makers can have access to air their content.”

I agree with this – albeit I hadn’t previously had the idea of the government seizing control of the printing presses at Wapping etc, which your post implies you’d like to see.

But I can’t see how these measures could not be called state interference in private property rights and distortion of the outcomes of the workings of the free market. So you are clearly an interventionist.

Having faced up to the truth of being the interventionist that you are, why not free your mind and extend that pragmatism to acknowledging the need for a public service broadcaster too?

Governments have control of the means of violence within the state and can do anything they like providing they retain the allegience of the armed forces

Before resorting to an armed coup, I think it would be better all round if, rather than destroying the BBC, it were to be given to Murdoch as a gift.

Simply transfer title of ownership to the Murdoch family in return for a nominal payment of, say, one pound sterling. Maybe have some kind of PFI or something the important thing is that all the money we all spend on the BBC each year should be seen by him as his.

And then make it clear we will continue on giving him that money, but only if the BBC is kept largely the way we like it.

If that fails, by all means roll out the tanks…

@ 51

Firstly, you are correct that the unwritten constitution provides some protection from government excesses. There was speculation recently the the Queen was having private meetings with Jock Stirrup because she was concerned about Brown’s actions. Having said that, there are big disincentives to her prompting a constitutional crisis and she has signed some rubbish over the last twelve years!!!!

Secondly, I am not an interventionist except to the extent that it is the role of the state (and the supra state authorities) to allow markets to work properly by preventing abuse by monopolies and cartels. News International should never have been allowed to grow so big and should now be compelled to dismantle. It is even more important that the guy who owns the satellite or cable should not be able to control or dictate what passes through it.

It is not about distorting markets, it is about freeing them to work properly.

54. Strategist

Distortion is in the eye of the beholder.
You accept the need for intervention, so you are an interventionist. You accept that market failure is inevitable – so why not accept the case for a public service broadcaster too?

However, the current cost of a TV licence is £142.50. In 2000, it was just £104. In ten years, an increase of around 36% – without anyone asking licence payers if they agreed with the way the corporation expanded.

INFLATION FAIL.

£104 in 2000 money is the equivalent of £133 in 2008 money (see http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/historic-inflation-calculator). Not sure about the 2010 figure. They deliberately increased above-inflation at one point to help fund digital switchover. The Tories have said that they want to redirect a portion of the licence fee to fund the expansion of broadband networks; Labour policy to use a tax on landlines instead.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Friedrich Hohenzoll

    RT @stuartamdouglas2010Even Liberal Conspiracy sometimes talks nonsense: http://bit.ly/dvXK1B £142.50 = BARGAIN #bbc

  2. Alda Telles

    What’s wrong with a slimmer BBC? http://bit.ly/dalwKb Defending a competitive state-owned TV





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