Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Your tax money at work...

Via Vindico, it seems that our telly-tax funded BBC has an exciting new project.
The BBC has launched a new Arabic language TV channel.

The channel is free to everyone in North Africa and the Middle East with a satellite or cable connection.

Right. And since nothing comes for free, who the hell is paying for it?
The service is the BBC's first publicly-funded international TV service.

It has an annual budget of US $50m (UK £25m). This comes partly from a UK government grant, and partly from BBC World Service funds freed up by the closure of radio services, mainly to Eastern Europe.

Oh, right. Well, next time you pay your £135 (or whatever it is now) TV-tax, you can feel all warm and righteous because you are allowing the BBC to entertain people in the Middle East with £25 million per annum of your money.

And, of course, it is our money that allows the BBC to put local channels, which can't extort funds from the British people, at a competitive disadvantage, just as the Beeb does over here.

Isn't it nice that the BBC can be so generous with your cash?

UPDATE: this is one of those cases in which I am happy to admit that I have called this one wrong. Unity explains why.


John B said...

In theory, transmitting British values to Middle Easteners rather than the crazed antisemitic propaganda that state TV networks pump out could save a lot more than £50m a year in wars, terrorism, etc.

There's certainly a stronger
minarchist argument for transmitting propaganda to foreigners to improve national security than there is for, well, most things government does...

Matthew Revell said...

I'm probably being a little picky here but the Arabic channel will be funded by direct taxation and not the licence fee.

I'm not sure which is worse, though.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

I have to say, depending upon the content, I am tentatively in favour of World Service projects like this.

I cannot count the number of times I have come across instances of people relying on the World Service (which is quite different from BBC News, stylistically and in content) for vital information. For what is a drop in the ocean compared to the monolith that is the State's piggy bank, I am content to see this done. I am sure that once it stands on its own feet, there will be a commercial model for it to operate on, as some of the other international BBC services do. Otherwise, the World Service makes very good use of the very small budget that they are given by the FCO.

Unity said...

Being even pickier, the World Service is directly funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

I've responded fully here but would pick out one quotation as being likely to be of particular interest over here:

"The World Service earns every penny we put into it, by promoting our world-view and policy. It has done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future"

That was Margaret Thatcher speaking in the House of Commons in 1985.

Anonymous said...

Well, better than spending hundreds of times that much on military adventures I suppose.

I hope the Libertarian Party wouldn't countenance this sort of misuse of public funds, though.

Devil's Kitchen said...

We would abolish the telly-tax, obviously.


Unity said...

Well obviously you would, but does that necessarily mean that you wouldn't fund the World Service from central taxation in light of its role is supporting the pursuit of legitimate foreign policy objectives?

randian said...

In theory, transmitting British values to Middle Easteners rather than the crazed antisemitic propaganda that state TV networks pump out could save a lot more than £50m a year in wars, terrorism, etc.

In theory. The problem is that the BBC doesn't transmit British values. It transmits EUsocialist values or Muslim supremacist values, but not classical British values. It's as anti-western and anti-semitic as any station in Europe. I guarantee an Arab-language BBC station will be completely captured by rabidly anti-western Muslims.

Anonymous said...

randian: hasn't this happened already? I didn't have much luck tracking it down on Google, but I vaguely remember a BBC reporter making a fuss about an out-of-control Urdu section in the World Service inflaming things in Afghanistan a few years ago and putting his life at risk. Anybody remember this?

Shug Niggurath said...

Whatever the matter of funding - and of the continuation of the UK using World Service broadcasting to promote 'British' interests, it's worth bearing in mind that this station is being set up in direct competition with Al-Jazeera, a channel that is in itself the bastard child of BBC Arabic (closed down after the Saudis threatened to censor it, what's to prevent that happening again?) and the Emir of Qatar.

Al-jazeera has criticised Islamic governments in the past, and is a fairly controversial player in Arabic TV. It is relatively independent and crucially is on the way to becoming a financially independent station in the Middle East (revenue model much the same as ours, subs, advertising and sales of footage). Ironically, the BBC has a deal where it shares facilities and footage!

So the BBC is probably going to close down Al-Jazeera and then run away when the Saudis threated to pull out of another arms deal with the UK, thus leaving the Middle East with no independent broadcasts.

I'd give it 5 years.

Anonymous said...


You don't have to pay the telly tax now - just don't have a telly.

Yes you miss some quality programs but the relief of not having puerile statist views poured down your throat is immense.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I'm afraid that, alas, that is not the case, I believe. I have a computer which is capable of receiving TV, and thus would render me liable to the TV-tax anyway.

And whilst I barely turn on my TV, I do use my computer a lot...


Anonymous said...

A fucking government grant? Are they off their tiny minds? Do they seriously think that ensuring people in the Middle East can get a badly dubbed version of Eastenders is a good use of public money? That is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in ages.

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