Should the BBC be broken up along national lines?


10:15 am - October 30th 2010

by Guest    


      Share on Tumblr

contribution by Marcus Warner

It might serve as but a footnote in the wider debate, but the Welsh language channel S4C might well be the catalyst for a massive change in the BBC.

It would seem at the very last minute, Jeremy Hunt has decided that S4C essentially be funded and managed by the BBC. Personal concerns about S4C retaining its independence aside, what it does represent is ‘top slicing’ by any other name.

It is my view that the BBC is simply not fit for purpose for an increasingly devolved British democracy.

The King Report was quite clear about the inadequate way the BBC covered devolved issues and also how it made clear what was ‘England only’ or not.

And to be fair, it seems that England is hardly doing well out of the current model of the BBC. England lacks a news report that Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish viewers can get. Ultimately it is increasingly difficult to tell a single British story, particularly something political.

My call is for the BBC to become as devolved and as federal as we are democratically. In fact, the new proposed model for S4C has convinced of both the practical need for it.

In Wales this would be a two channel offering in both our languages, funded by the Welsh license fee and answerable to the Welsh Assembly Government.

In this digital age viewers will of course have the option to see the other nation’s coverage. Of course I don’t want those channels to work in isolation from each other, but in terms of Wales I would see a positive outcome.

I recognise that this decoupling would not be simple and I am not naive to assume that there would not be vested interests for and against this move. But perhaps what S4C does show is that the old ‘British’ Broadcasting Corporation model does not work for a very much changed United Kingdom.

It seems a relic to a by-gone age when S4C’s future is decided by Jeremy Hunt, without consulting the Welsh Assembly Government’s Heritage Minister, in London. Wasn’t devolution supposed to solve such issues?

I think the proposed funding model for S4C essentially writes in law top-slicing of the license fee (following on from the top slicing for broadband). While not wholly connect, it does provide momentum to looking at how the BBC operates across the four nations.

The time has come to break up the BBC along national lines.

—-
Marcus Warner is a Plaid Cymru activist and Council Candidate in the South Wales Valleys

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest post.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Media

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


“… and answerable to the Welsh Assembly Government.”

Ending public broadcasting’s independence from government and making it a political state broadcaster. It shouldn’t be ‘answerable’ to government for anything but it’s financial efficiency.

Break it up full stop.
Give it to Murdoch.
At least that will stop the continuos bleating of right wing drones who bleat about bias.
Forgetting it was the BBC that swapped the TV pictures around in the 84 strike showing miners attacking the police, when it was the other way round
Yes I am talking about many right bloggers who post on this site ,who sadly have little else to with their sad lives, Nick Cohen and his standpoint mates, Martin Bright and 90% of the journos in this country who spend most of the time with their tongues up Murdoch’s ar*e.

All it needs is an “English Six” and the fencing off of sport reports across the UK.

G

In a world where digital communication means that English has become the standard communication medium internationally, what is the justification for spending inordinate swathes of public money to artificially prop up minor languages that should be allowed to die gracefully?

The only possible justification is to pander to some kind of fake national identity and that is not helpful to anyone except nationalist political parties.

@ 2 Peter Cole

I’m not a right winger but you appear to have a short memory or, you’ve been fed a load of nonsense. Have a read of this and then tell us again about police violance.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/16/newsid_2512000/2512469.stm

Yes to breaking up the BBC – just class driven rubbish now.

A Gerry Hassan article on this subject is well worth reading, as are the comments which it has attracted, I venture to suggest:

http://tinyurl.com/3xqd7vl

Ted you are a Murdoch right winger but the point was not about the miiers strike per se but bias and the BBC.
They DID change the pictures around that did not correspond with events.

@ Peter Cole no chance whatsoever on me being a right winger – a fair assumption on your part though.

As for a break up of the Beeb, good idea and let them run their business on a regional basis and raise their own revenue. Far too much public money has been poured in with no say on how it’s been spent by the public. It’s my guess that it would disappear in 5 years if regional taxpayers had to fund it.

@ Pagar:

So your sole determinant of the value of a language (and the culture and social values which adhere to it) is economic?

Your real name isn’t Phyllis Stein by any chance?

I hope I’m still around to see the “English is a world language, all others are surplus to requirements” mob brought to book if the Chinese really do become the next world economic powerhouse.

@9

Are you suggesting that it is a good idea for school children to be compelled to learn Welsh just so that the language does not become obsolete?

Or is it for the additional understanding gained by studying the great Welsh poets and philosophers in the vernacular?

Let me give you a clue.

It has nothing to do with heritage but has everything to do with satisfying the demands of a self-serving, self-absorbed clique of quasi-nationalists who have taken advantage of the currently fashionable multi-cultural meme to trouser some easy dosh.

2 & 8
Not a good example of the miner’s strike and tragic for the victim, but be assured that, on the other side of the debate, are many tragic suicides caused by mass unemployment and the closure of the majority of pits. And at least that incident received accurage coverage by the press,

@ 11. steveb

You may not be aware but this was a murder conviction. Suicide, though sad does not compare as it is no longer illegal.

My link at posting 5 is the very reason public support for the miners strike dropped dramatically and trade unionism as an institution was dealt a blow from which it has never fully recovered.

Media coverage of these events is never fair or accurate according to the guilty and violent participants ! !

Pagar @10

An ever increasing number of parents are choosing to send their children to welsh medium schools. Its about 33% of children are sent here.

By their parent’s choice.

Welsh is popular and trendy.

Pagar@10:

“Are you suggesting that it is a good idea for school children to be compelled to learn Welsh just so that the language does not become obsolete?”

Ah! Anti-Welsh meme #4: “They’re forcin’ the langwich down our kiddies froats!”.

No child is ‘forced’ to learn Welsh in school any more than they’re ‘forced’ to learn RE (if it’s still called that). And as ian b pointed out, many parents want their children schooled in the two languages of their country rather than in just the dominant one, because they recognise the value of having full access to both.

“It has nothing to do with heritage but has everything to do with satisfying the demands of a self-serving, self-absorbed clique of quasi-nationalists…”

“Quasi-” ? Hmm, when I next see some of them, I’ll have to tell them they’re not trying hard enough…

“…who have taken advantage of the currently fashionable multi-cultural meme to trouser some easy dosh.”

The drive for Welsh-language education for any child in Wales whose parents want them to have it is decades old – back to at least the 1930s, in fact – and pre-dates whatever your definition of “political correctness GAWWNN MAAAAD!” consists of.

The beeb if not abolished altogether should be broken up along national lines and the costs of of running it should be devolved along national lines. The beeb would be obliged to fairly report English affairs that they are supposed to do under the King report but are currently masqueraded as british affairs.

Great Idea!

Although, in all fairness, it would probably be better to break it up into 5 distinct entities. A national entity for each nation’s sport, politics, news and current affairs in general, and a small 5th pan-national “British” entity to share the costs of UK-wide programming such as drama serials.

17. Mungo Bellistre

Its the british broadcasting corporation not the english broadcasting corporation, they just want to see it broken up as murdoch hates it and he along with ‘lord’ ashcroft bankrolled them into ‘power’….

18. Home Rule for England

I am 100% in favour of the BBC being no more. I want an English Broadcasting Corporation EBC. I also want an independent England.

#18 Home Rule for England

You’ve already got an English Broadcasting Corporation: the BBC, which is referred to in Scotland, with rapidly increasing hostility, as the Anglo-saxophone.

#19:

“the BBC, which is referred to in Scotland, with rapidly increasing hostility, as the Anglo-saxophone”

Love it!

@ 18

Top answer so far.

I agree with Marcus that there is a devolution deficit in British Broadcasting, but I’m not sure that devolving the BBC is the answer. If BBC Wales was devolved there is a danger that some of the BBC programmes that now come from Wales, Dr Who, Merlin, Casualty (from next year) and Question Time (produced by an independent Welsh company for the BBC) would no longer be Welsh productions – and that would have a knock on affect for the viability of S4C.

The problem seems to be in the area of news sport and current affairs.

Next Saturday I will be told on Report Wales that the Welsh rugby team has secured an historic victory / defeat against Australia, but it won’t be news to me because I will have heard it ten minutes earlier on the British News. 95% of the others who hear the story on the British News probably couldn’t give a damn either way!

Rather than going the whole independence hog, surely the best compromise would be for one or two of the peak time news programmes to be nation specific. A Scottish Six, and English Six etc?

@ The Judge

No child is ‘forced’ to learn Welsh in school

Under the National Curriculum, schoolchildren in Wales must study Welsh up to the age of 16 and many choose to continue with it in their A levels and college years. All Local Education Authorities in Wales have schools providing bilingual or Welsh-medium education. The remainder study Welsh as a second language in English-medium schools.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_language

12
So where did you gain knowledge of the miner’s strike? although this is slightly OT, when someone asserts that another has been fed a load of nonsense@5 it would be useful to quote the source of your assertion or at least some evidence to uphold your argument.

Did somebody just accidenatlly leave the madhouse door open?

@ Pagar (#23)

And your point here is?

My objection is your use of the loaded word “forced” in this context. Would you talk of pupils being “forced” to learn Geography? “Forced” to learn History?

@ Cherub

Yes they did. Now get back in there, please.

#26 The Judge

“@ Cherub

Yes they did. Now get back in there, please.”

Love it!

I’m sad to say that I’m an unwilling enemy of the BBC.

I think we need a media outlet totally independent of commercial interests, but also one independent of political bias. A tough call that the BBC fails to rise to.

The Beeb are British state-nationalists when it come to Scotland and Wales. their more wary when it comes to Ireland as the UK’s had such a bloody nose from the Irish question.

When it comes to Cornwall then aggressive English nationalism is the order of the day.

Over the past few decades Cornwall has seen a resurgence in its identity and desire to be treated differently. Even the mealy mouthed Royal Kilbrandon report in the 70’s into the constitution recommended that Cornwall be referred to as a Duchy in light of its identity and constitutional position. The BBC have ignored this and all other calls to give some recognition to Kernow and continue to describe Cornwall as an English county on ALL possible occasions. They’ve even lent their support to various Devonwall projects designed to blend Cornwall out of existence.

This hostile English nationalism from the BBC towards the Cornish national minority is unjust and must stop!

29. Stephen Gash

Chancellor George Osborne has frozen the TV licence for six years. This is nowhere near enough. Like Sky, the BBC should be funded by subscription. There are many unemployed people on benefits who cannot afford the licence fee, preferring to use the money for a bus fair, to look for work. However, refusing to pay the BBC’s “poll tax” means forfeiting their televisions, thus depriving them of free-to-view services. This is palpably unfair and arguably against their human rights, perhaps requiring a judicial review under the appropriate legislation.

Likewise there are many small-business owners feeling the pinch who may prefer putting money into their beleaguered pensions rather than pay for what Director General Mark Thompson confessed as the BBC’s “massive bias to the Left”. Instead they have to subsidise BBC pensions. However, this does not stop BBC journalists from striking.

Similarly, there are many who prefer Sky, but cannot afford both it and the licence fee, so are forced to watch the BBC.

As we are having digital reception foisted on us, making the BBC a subscription-only service would be a small technical task and also fulfil the “fairness” politicians of all persuasions keep banging on about.

The BBC is palpably anti-English anyway and I would much prefer an English broadcasting organisation that promotes England and Englishness with English accents instead of the plethora of “Celtic” accents we are presently subjected to.

#29 Stephen Gash

Not enough English twitter twattery on the BBC? Disgraceful.

Free England now.

EBC – England
SBC – Scotland
WBC – Wales
NIBC – Northern Ireland
CBC – Cornwall

great idea!
Although maybe England could be split as well.

Does putting, “BBC” in any header automatically attract the Have Your Say pondlife? It would appear so!

Ted
You are mising the point as most right wingers do.
The discussion is about the BBC not trades unions.
Also like Nick Cohen, you are as right wing as Maggie but haven’t the backbone to admit it.
As for breaking up the BBC, why not but also break up the monarchy as well.
That wouldn’t survive without public money

#32 and #25 Cherub

“a profoundly intolerant, arrogant, insensitive sort of brutish, bullying Britishness” (Gerry Hassan, http://tinyurl.com/3xqd7vl)

This evidently applies to you.

There seems be a misunderstanding about the status of England that does not exist politically or democratically being just a colony of the United Kingdom ruled directly by Britain in Westminster and with no one able to speak for it. Until the devolution system is completed with and English Parliament and Executive problems like tmhis will continue.

English parliament
Nice idea and forever Tory

@26 – “My objection is your use of the loaded word “forced” in this context. Would you talk of pupils being “forced” to learn Geography? “Forced” to learn History?”

Obviously.

If the teaching (I hesitate to say “learning”) of a subject is mandatory, presumably sanctions apply if you obstinately refuse to turn up to lessons – so it’s not unreasonable to suggest that it’s “forced”.

The same applies to history, mathematics, etc. – and would apply to, say, “the history of why Jews are all crooks” as taught in Nazi Germany.

It is the value judgements you place on these subjects that differ. (And that tends to tell you more about the commentator and his or her prejudices than anything else…)

Wales should go independent before Scotland so they can show how to destroy a country without subsidies from England.

#38 Cassandrina

No such demonstration is needed, as, despite being subsidized by Scotland, the anglo-state has deftly manoeuvred itself on to the brink of bankruptcy, as we know, and is setting about wreaking serious damage to the economies of both Wales and Scotland by slowing their economies down at exactly the wrong time, according to Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank who is a member of the Scottish Government’s council of economic advisers and who supports its policy of establishing an oil fund to prevent the UK state from squandering any more of Scotland’s still very substantial oil wealth.

But, of course, you wouldn’t know anything about any of that, if you get your news from the Anglo-saxophone and perhaps the Tory Dailygraph and assorted tabloid comics that pass for newspapers in Blighty these days.

40. Marcus Warner

Hi All,

Many thanks for the number if not the content of the comments. The anti-welsh diatribes are nothing more than ignorance towards people daring to speak their own language in their own land.

Welsh medium education is exploding in demand, at a time when more generally there is a huge amount of empty places in english medium schools. They are not all nats, terrorists or even political people – they are just carrying out what many people believe is important – parental choice.

Anyway back to the point.

I think the devolving of certain programmes is a fair minded compromise which I would be willing to explore. A news at 6/10 along devolved lines, Question Time, Newsnight and even Breakfast would be a thoroughly good idea.

I will give you an example of how difficult the current BBC set up makes it for all. Currently the condems want to have the AV referendum on the same day as the Assembly elections. This means the primary media outlets for people in Wales (The BBC, London Based media) will be full of the debate around AV, with the assembly elections being relegated to a non-event.

In terms of the BBC, it’s remit has to be to inform. But I fail to see how sufficient time will be spent on the further powers referendum and the assembly elections WITHOUT frankly pissing english viewers off. The fact is that the BBC will fail in its core principle of informing the people of Wales sufficiently.

The same thing happens with question time. It is simply ignorant of the BBC to assume that english viewers have no interest in devolved politics – last week it was in Scotland, a few months ago in Wales, and we are not allowed any questions on devolved politics. In Cardiff a question about John Terry was discussed at length, but we are not allowed to have even one question on a devolved issue.

I have an interest in english, scottish and northern irish affairs, I think it would be healthy for all four nations to have an understanding of the differences in our politics. The BBC thinks that it only swings one way – that us celts are dying to hear about British/English politics.

“Welsh medium education is exploding in demand, at a time when more generally there is a huge amount of empty places in english medium schools. They are not all nats, terrorists or even political people – they are just carrying out what many people believe is important – parental choice. ”

Marcus, don’t you think it’s really ironic that the people who constantly advocate vouchers for schools on here are also the ones spouting the usual ill informed prejudiced stuff about welsh people?

(I’m a non welsh speaker btw)

42. Marcus Warner

“Marcus, don’t you think it’s really ironic that the people who constantly advocate vouchers for schools on here are also the ones spouting the usual ill informed prejudiced stuff about welsh people?

(I’m a non welsh speaker btw)”

Nor am I, although I getting closer to fluency truth be told. My three kids will be starting welsh school in the next few years and there are many reasons why parents wish for their children to be educated in Welsh medium. The school that my kids will attend has 95% of parents who cannot speak welsh.

The point is that these parents are choosing this, despite still there being lack of places and often having to travel further just to get welsh medium provision.

To return to your point, it does crack me up to be honest. It seems that parents are only allowed a certain type of choice. Thankfully we don’t have ‘free schools’ in Wales, but I would love to see the arguments carried out by the proponents of them if there was a whole raft of new Welsh medium free schools – to be honest, given the demand for Welsh medium you can only guess at how many would come about.

It seems all parents are equal, but some choices are more equal than others.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  2. Lawrence Mills

    No. Go away. RT @libcon: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  3. Bella Caledonia

    RT @libcon: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  4. Frankly's Blogue

    RT @libcon: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  5. Gordon Fraser

    RT @libcon: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  6. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  7. whiterose1314

    RT @libcon: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? http://bit.ly/cZjzzf

  8. Hotspur

    Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/IkYEc21 via @libcon

  9. FloTom

    RT @stgeorgeiscross: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/IkYEc21 via @libcon

  10. Cornish Republican

    Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/63n1c4U via @libcon A CBC one day then?

  11. RobSimmons

    RT @TheCornishRep: Should the BBC be broken up along national lines? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/63n1c4U via @libcon A CBC one day then





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.