Tuesday, May 29, 2007


A little while ago, The Dude wrote a post in which he defended the BBC.
Despite this, I am a supporter not only of the BBC, but of the licence fee too. And are you going to tell me that the BBC is in the Governments pocket? OK, they may only attack from the left - but at least there's no overt party political bias. In time and with focus, I think they might just balance their political reportage, and there are signs that they are waking up to the problem. The trick is to take the time to complain every time you notice a biased programme and report. Eventually they'll get the message.
The whole post is well worth reading, and it's one that I broadly agree with. I enjoy watching television without adverts and I will admit that, amongst the increasing crap that it outputs in a desperate scramble to get ratings that it doesn't need, the BBC does broadcast some excellent stuff. Just because the news reporting is a little biased isn't a decent reason to abandon the whole structure.

However, there are a few things that I do disagree with. I object to the Licence Fee being raised in order to subsidise the BBC's expansion into commercial, i.e. advert-carrying, digital channels. If they are going to carry adverts, then the BBC should compete on the same level as all the other companies; besides, my chief enjoyment is TV without the adverts and it makes me extremely unhappy that I should have to foot a massive increase in the tax and watch adverts.

The second thing that I dislike is that the Licence Fee is linked to the possession of a TV: why? One doesn't have to pay a fee to listen to the radio, why should one pay if one possesses a TV? One could see the point before the late 70s, when the only channels one received were BBC ones, but that is no longer the case.

Now, if one were to make the BBC a subscription channel, then one could see that their revenue might well drop to the point where they might need to take adverts, thus disrupting my personal enjoyment. But how about a service from which you can opt out?

Very soon, we will have digital receivers and many more people will have set-top boxes of one sort or another, so it should be technologically possible to simply switch off those channels to which you are not subscribed (it happens through cable, certainly).

If you do not wish to pay the Licence Fee, you can simply choose to opt out online or through a call centre, and you will no longer receive BBC Channels. That seems fair enough, doesn't it? In this way, I believe that the vast majority of people would continue to pay the fee but those who do not wish to subscribe to the Bolshevik Broadcasting Association can quite easily opt out and continue to watch ITV1 or Channel 4 (or, of course, the plethora of other cable, Freeview or Sky channels) without the Telly Tax inspectors banging on their doors.


Bag said...

If you give people an option they would opt out. All the other news channels are free on cable. Why would you pay for the BBC News.

The other BBC channels are all for narrow niche markets and would people be prepared to pay for them? I wouldn't. The old shows were worth watching but very little from this new lot.

They would lose a fortune and it would have to go mainstream like ITV with adverts and , god forbid, programmes we wanted to watch. Bang goes all this cultural crap the toffs get because we subsidise it.

Not Saussure said...

Has the BBC started showing cultural programmes? Why has no one told me? I might start watching it again for something other than Dr Who.

Tito said...

I see no reason to opt out of Channel 4, one simply has to neglect the 4 on the remote.

A BBC opt out would be useful though, I certainly wouldn't pay a penny piece to an organisation that repeatedly insults my political opinion.

mitch said...

if i had the chance i would opt out i dont watch their lefty claptrap anyway.The extra pint a week would be
a better use of my money.Its a tax and not based on ability to pay so minimum wagers get caned and fatcats lose a bottle of wine hmmmm thats not quite fair.

Bishop Hill said...

"OK, they may only attack from the left - but at least there's no overt party political bias."

What, they welcome any left-wing view and attack any right wing one, and that's OK?

JuliaM said...

"The trick is to take the time to complain every time you notice a biased programme and report. Eventually they'll get the message."

What message.?

That they need to change to a really neutral point of view? Or simply that they they need to hide their bias bettr in future...?

Tim Almond said...

"Very soon, we will have digital receivers and many more people will have set-top boxes of one sort or another, so it should be technologically possible to simply switch off those channels to which you are not subscribed (it happens through cable, certainly)."

Difficult with most low-end freeview boxes as there's no card slots. They'd have to get people to buy new or pay for replacement boxes with card slots.

Devil's Kitchen said...

OK, well, we'll leave aside the technology for the moment.

In terms of bias, we are introducing a market, aren't we? albeit a limited one. Might it not encourage the Beeb not only to look at their bias but to do something about it?


AD627 said...

What an amazingly restrained post! Are you keeping future employment options open?!

The BBC’s bias is a long-standing disgrace, as I was reminded when I caught a little of the recent repeat of the 1997 election night coverage, during which the unconscious bias was tangible. Signs of potential improvement is hardly an encouragement after it has actively contributed towards ten years of New Labour failure (and 30 years of EU failure for that matter).

More generally, if we accept that competition (by which we must mean competition on a level playing field) is a good thing in other markets, then to justify the BBC’s continued existence we need to assert what it is that makes broadcasting the exception.

Equally seriously, the licence fee is grotesque. It is a regressive tax that is inefficient to collect and involves substantial invasion of privacy and erosion of liberty in order to enforce it. Moreover, since it was decided that imprisoning single mothers for failure to pay was untenable, it has largely been a tax on the cooperative and law-abiding, giving the feckless a free pass. That the licence fee exists in the 21st century is an indication of the power the beeb wields, since no mainstream politician has felt able to acknowledge that the licence fee is unjustifiable and take on the beeb.

Incidentally, ITV started broadcasting in the 1950s, not the 1970s, and satellite radio in the US has demonstrated that consumers can be persuaded to choose subscription funding over advertising.

Anonymous said...

INtroduce an opt out and I'll agree with you DK, but until then, the cunts need shooting and it's a fucking rip-off.

Even if the licence fee was in some way justified, we actually pay directly to watch programming we get for free...

Mark Wadsworth said...

The TV licence fee is in practive a totally unfair Poll Tax, so it is one of the taxes that I am going to get rid of in the move to Land Value Tax (along with Council Tax, SDLT, IHT and CGT).

Anonymous said...

I would love to see our biased Beeb reform, that won't happen ,neither will any goverment do anything about them ,as they will still need the studios plus kit in an emergency ,ie floods ,civil unrest etc, I think one thing we should do to hurt them would be to take over their library ,and flog it off ,for loads of money ,that the only way of bringing them into line.

Martin said...


Re subscription -

Several years ago David Elstein, the ex-head of Channel 5 and producer of 'The World at War', produced a report for the Tories suggesting making the BBC subscription only, precisely because of the arguments you make here. The rationale was that it would enable them to be slightly more Harrods than Somerfields.

If the subscribers don't come, then they can go under. If you pay both a licence fee and a digital subscription (which I have to - my block has no external aerial, and there's no way I'm giving Murdoch a penny more than I have to; a decision more than justified by his son's pissing about with my TV package because he wants to crush Beardy Branson like Rommel at El Alamein), you're already paying for the same service twice.

Heraklites said...

This sounds reactionary no doubt. But is there an argument (at least in theory) for publicly subsidised television and radio channels, so that not everything is homogenised pap with 25% commercial time?

In practice I agree that the BBC may no longer be the corporation to provide these, so it may be better to abolish the license fee. “Cultural crap the toffs get”? As NS says, this is surely on the decline, in favour of what BBC executives believe is sure to appeal to ordinary folk.

The BBC admits it is biased. Could this be interpreted as a sign that their preferred world view is now considered so morally superior that they feel they don’t need to apologise for it?

Anonymous said...

Got video editing software on your PC? Make a video on BBC bias and upload to YouTube. There are hundreds of high-res images of articles about the BBC's Leftist, anti-American, Anti-Christian, anti-Israeli, pro-Muslim extremist reporting here:


They can be found in the various folders beginning 100-112.

Here's an example of what can be done with just a small fraction of the images available:


Guido Faux said...

There is probably a demand for lefty bias but unfortunately there's no money in it since lefties don't actually work.

The BBC could branch into a more profitable business to subsidise their money-losing media output - like GMG do (well, did) with autotrader.

Sean said...

Ah yes, the old BBC lefty bias accusation rears its head again. Just so I understand: this is the same BBC that devotes an hour before Breakfast for business reports around the world; the same BBC that has regular dispatches from the Stock Exchange during the subsequent programme; the very same BBC that stuffs the majority of its daytime output with property programmes promoting such socialist ideas as making a killing in property auctions; the same BBC that masturbates furiously at the altar of Thatcher with programmes like The Apprentice and Dragons' Den; the same BBC which recently launched an Apprentice-lite for kids?

That BBC? Yeah, a regular televised Socialist Worker eh? It must be hell for all you conservatives, having little more than the entire output of News International, The Mail, The Express, The Telegraph and most of the BBC to rely on. Poor dears.

Anonymous said...

Sean, you are a moron.

The BBC will stuff its prigrammes with easy news and programming, like DIY shows and business news available elsewhere and better, and then when you think it is safe it stuffs the programming with lefty shite.

If you don't see it, and the BBC does itself you fucking mong, then you are trying to justify your own job.

Sir Francis Walsingham said...

The BBC quietly pushed for the standard for the Freeview boxes/TV cards *not* to include provision fro pay per view. So not every manufacturer put provsion for this in. This means that taking the BBC pay-per-view will not work, unless some people buy new boxes/TVs.


Geezer said...

Of course, what the BBC didn't bargain for, when it was trying to fix the Freeview Standard, is that the cost of the technology is coming down all the time. By 2012, when the analogue signal is switched off completely, Digital Terrestrial TV would have been around for 14 years. Boxes, even with card readers becoming ever cheaper to produce, thanks mainly to our Chinese friends. The number of people who don't have a card reading DTT box or Freeview TV with built in CAM slot, wouldn't be that great and could probably be provided free with their first subscription, or at least the cost could be covered by a very small amount. Don't forget, even Channel 5, found the money to send engineers to every household with a VCR, to retune it so we wouldn't get interference! The incompatibility argument doesn't stand up.

AD627 said...

News International’s output has been consistently pro-New Labour since before the 1997 election. The Express was also a New Labour paper for most of the past decade, as has been the FT and Independent, while the Guardian and Mirror are Labour papers. The Telegraph and Mail (despite Dacre’s own friendship with Brown) have been the only Tory papers and neither has exactly toed the party line.

Anyone that watches the BBC’s so-called business coverage should be acutely aware it is no such thing – it is merely consumerist rubbish branded as business reporting. The BBC’s compliance with New Labour’s original “rip off Britain” campaign is one of the reasons that the savings ratio in this country is so horrendously low – consumers decided that they could no longer trust savings products and punted on the property market instead.

garypowell said...

You call yourself a libertarian?

You have either gone mad or you have always been mad. I think the later but, you can correct me if I am wrong about the timing.

One things for sure you have no idear whatsoever what a libertarian is. Please get a book on the subject, or kindly never use the word ever again.

Martin said...


You write,

"The BBC’s compliance with New Labour’s original “rip off Britain” campaign is one of the reasons that the savings ratio in this country is so horrendously low – consumers decided that they could no longer trust savings products and punted on the property market instead."

I'd be very sure of your facts befo writing that.

There's a school of thought that believes the UK's property boom to be as manufactured as my keyboard. Acording to Stephen Roach, the dotcom collapse so rattled both the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England that they only way they perceived avoiding total financial collapse was to loosen the money supply to the extent that lenders were able to borrow sums grossly disproportionate to their incomes.

It has been artificially cheap money that's fuelled the boom, not fear of saving.

Fidothedog said...

Damn fine idea, there is almost nothing I ever watch on El Beeb. Roll on the day I can opt out from paying for lazy BBC employees to sponge off of my taxes.

Bastards. Sack em all and make em work in the real work like the rest of us.

V said...

Wish I could find the figures, but an internal BBC report found that if people were given the option to opt out of the licence fee, and, as a result, lose all BBC access, 58% of people would go ahead anyway!!

On a second point to one of the commentators, I think it was Sean the Moron, the BBC has recently had its knuckles wrapped because it employed business illiterates, like Sean, to report on the business world!


It seems one of the qualifications for being a lefty is that you need to have a complete disregard for how wealth is created. Here is a hint, it isn't the workers or the government who create it!

Marconis revenge said...

The licence fee should be no more the 30 quid for that you get BBC1/2 TV and Radio 1/2/3/4/5 if you want local radio perhaps a really local radio that's really community based otherwise there's plenty out there from commercial sources.
Any thing else subsciption.
The BBC pay too many crap performers too much money.

AD627 said...

I didn't argue that the wall of liquidity didn’t exist - I merely identified lefty propaganda as one reason that the savings ratio in this country is so low. If cheap money were the only reason for a low savings ratio then I would expect to see a higher savings ratio in the UK than in continental Europe and Japan, where money really is cheap.

I completely agree with you that a combination of lax fiscal policy and fixing the inflation figures has left us with a ludicrously loose momentary regime that has resulted in an asset price bubble of almost unprecedented proportions.

Guido Faux said...


Suralan is a Labour donor. I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

There are many newsworthy events consistently omitted from BBC news programs because the story doesn't sit well with their leftist views.

You cannot escape the fact that the BBC is supposed to be constitutionally impartial, and it has failed dismally to honour that obligation.

I would abolish the licence fee and let the punters who want it pay for it - that would force them to cut their wasting ways (and huge carbon footprint).

A rubbish fairytale

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