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BBC: defend or disable?

On 3 Jan 2012 at 11:45am Southover Queen wrote:
At the risk of provoking the BBC haters hereabouts, have a look at this article by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian today. In particular, tell me why this government is so intent in cutting off at the knees an institution which generates £2 for every £1 it receives and which is a very significant foundation for the UK's pre-eminence in the creative industries.

Check it out here »
On 3 Jan 2012 at 12:17pm Viewer wrote:
Also from the Guardian - "BBC wasting nearly £80m a year through poor staff management".
On 3 Jan 2012 at 4:42pm DFL wrote:
If the BBC generates £2 for every £1, why do we still have to pay for a TV licence ?
I used to work for the beeb, and I know first hand that management is appalling at Wood Lane, the wastage is unbelievable.
I'm not a great TV watcher, so it wouldn't worry me if they went or stayed.
On 3 Jan 2012 at 5:12pm Southover Queen wrote:
It's not just tv though, DFL. It's the radio as well, and it's also the whole training ground that it represents for the rest of the broadcasting and film industries. It's symphony orchestras and support of feature films too.
Did you know that the average - AVERAGE - subscription to Sky TV is £600 pa? I think that makes the BBC the most amazing bargain, personally. The licence fee could simply be gobbled up in making programmes; instead those programmes have such value that they double the investment we make. That's good going by any measure, and it's one of the reasons that we have such a successful wider creative industry.
I started my working career at the BBC and went freelance nearly 30 years ago, as a programme maker. Management is generally awful, but why is that? I'd say that it's because they've made all their creative staff redundant, so that the only people who remain now are the "executives". Why did they do that? Because they were under threat from a government who are hell-bent on destabilising them and had inflicted major damage on the BBC's income. (And before I'm accused of being partisan, Labour also have a prickly relationship with the Corporation)

The BBC is one of our most famous institutions. Of course it has faults - major faults - but we really should value it more and attack it less.
On 3 Jan 2012 at 6:25pm Zebedee wrote:
And the BBC World Service is the supreme UK cultural tool.

Despite being increasingly crippled by successive governments it remains possibly the very best thing about UK culture. It is truly a world beater.
On 3 Jan 2012 at 10:53pm Paul Newman wrote:
Get Ms. Toynbee ..."Having spent years as social affairs editor in the newsroom, I know how nervous the BBC always is, supreme
At least if it was Peter Hitchens ( he would have a grasp that others might snort on their cornflakes not she...ah well; thats your aristocrat for you.
Its called institutional bias
On 3 Jan 2012 at 10:59pm Clifford wrote:
2253 and tired and emotional already Paul?
On 3 Jan 2012 at 11:40pm Southover Queen wrote:
Yes, I'm struggling with that too, Clifford.
On 3 Jan 2012 at 11:51pm Deelite wrote:
Polly's article is spot on. It will be a very sad day when the airwaves are ruled by immoral right wing profit driven organisations such as Murdochs. It beggars belief how anyone could trash the BBC after seeing the evil Fox News. And yes, of course Sky should pay to host the BBC channels. The entire Sky service would not be worth a jot if it did not have the BBC.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 12:27am Ho hum wrote:
Not too sure it's alcohol Paul Newman is using. His erratic posts remind me of the mess spiders make of their webs when they've been fed amphetamines (aka speed). Still, at least he seems to have finally figured out that spaces are generally placed after punctuation marks and not before.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 6:49am Paul Newman wrote:
Ooops typing with mittens and I see my fans are all out to take notes( miss me ?).The point is that Polly Toynbee was just saying how paranoid the BBC were about appearing biassed, which, she claims to know from her years as Editor of social affairs. That such an appointment could ever have been made shows that ther BBC is oblivious to accusations of bias ..got it? Need a diagram? Good. 'Institutional bias' was, of course, the conclusion of the McPherson report on the Met ( in the news no?), and the BBC suffers from a similar malady which the support of Lewes lefty Liberals demonstrates neatly.Ta.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 6:59am Paul Newman wrote:
..and the other interesting thing about that article which you have missed is the connection between the Guardians attack on Murdoch and the B Sky B takeover which the Beeb feared but could not campaign against with taxpayers money openly. The close links between Guardian and BBC are well known and there was already a full government report on illegal information with the Trinity Group being the worst offenders. Does anyone really think the timing of this was coincidence. Not Polly obviously but I have not seen an explicit link before.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 8:31am DFL wrote:
OK SQ (et al), I agree about the radio and proms and all that, BUT, there are quite a few so called managers at the beeb who are on salaries which are a joke - Mark Thomson being one, Alan Yentob another. These guys are being paid to do their hobbies !! The beeb needs a shake up at the top, well a cull would be more like it, after all they're only civil servants (didn't want to say that, but we do pay a tax to fund the licence).
On 4 Jan 2012 at 10:28am Clifford wrote:
Blimey - 6.59 and STILL tired and emotional Paul? Your liver must be a sight to see.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 10:28am Southover Queen wrote:
DFL, I don't disagree about management pay, although believe me (and you probably know this) the programme makers get a tenth of what the bosses are paid if they're very lucky and very successful. Most get a great deal less. To be honest, Thompson's pay (at around £650k pa) is unconscionable, and I don't understand why he and his fellow board members can't see how bad those salaries appear to the general public. I wouldn't agree that they're being paid to do their hobbies: Thompson is the CEO of a very big international business with all the pressures that involves. Yentob is an anomaly, and it would be a mistake to use his pay as a comparison with anyone else's given that he works as a presenter as well as holding some very ill-defined management position. I do agree it would be a good idea to sort that out, mind.

Paul, you can't just chuck assertions into a bucket and then fish them out as fact. I'm amused you think you've identified another dark lefty conspiracy in this "close link" between the BBC and Guardian. I don't think there's any such thing and should love to know what you mean by it. I do think there's quite clearly a problem with the Tory/Murdoch press and their relationship to the BBC, but to be honest that's because they resent the competition and want to see it "cut down to size" so they can make more money (or survive at all, TBH). Witness the fuss about the website being unfair: what they really mean is they don't want the public to have access to free information. There is a huge problem for all the print media, but that's not the Beeb's fault: newspapers are just not profitable any more. The BBC is just a convenient Aunt Sally.

Internationally the BBC is a cultural icon admired and trusted by hundreds of millions. The licence fee is a creaky institution, but the alternatives (subscription or direct government funding) would wound it fatally.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 4:28pm Twister wrote:
Defend, defend and defend.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 4:29pm DFL wrote:
SQ, like some of your points , but, Thomson is not under any pressure, the people under pressure are the programme schedulers, and they ARE paid peanuts !
On 4 Jan 2012 at 4:46pm Southover Queen wrote:
DFL, let's agree to disagree then. I'm the last person to defend senior BBC management, who I think have shown themselves to be remarkably out of touch as well as making some really bad management decisions. Nevertheless the job is a huge one with vast responsibilities. If it were a commercial company then maybe you could justify such a huge salary, but not as the CEO of a publicly funded entity like the Beeb.

As you say, the vast majority of people, whether staff or contractors, earn nothing like those sums. In fact the majority of creative workers at the Beeb are now freelancers who come in to do a job of work and then go, and that's really affected the experience of the workplace - and not for the better.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 4:58pm jrsussex wrote:
Bottom line is that the BBC does indeed represent tremendous value for money, particularly when compared with BskyB etc. In my life I have been lucky and travelled quite a bit, both work and pleasure, and anyone who has done that knows the BBC is held in extremely high regard throughout the world, particularly in countries that are not democracies.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 6:06pm Deelite wrote:
The BBC is the best ambassador the UK has. Public relations with no equal. It is the best thing produced by this squalid little country by a very long way. It is our jewel in the crown. Only blinkered idiots (see above), those with political axes to grind (see above) and those with vested interests (Murdoch) would want it gone or neutered..
On 4 Jan 2012 at 6:25pm Clifford wrote:
You have to remember, Deelite, that the free market nuts live in a similar intellectual world as Marxists do - reality has always to be squeezed into the theoretical model.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 7:19pm Soul provider wrote:
How about we bin all stuff on BBC that other people provide free of charge on freesat etc? Make a long list and cull it all. I'll start:
Most of radio 1 pop sh1te - put the unique stuff on other stations and bin all high paid DJs. If you like them listen to them on one of the umpteen other free pop stations
On 4 Jan 2012 at 8:14pm Paul Newman wrote:
Good point Soul Provider. Radio 1 was invented when the BBC began to lose control of popular culture to Radio Caroline and the like, part of its on going me-too-ism, adding nothing itself,(see Breakfast TV, 24 hour news and much more). The BBC has go occupy every crevice to justify its anachronistic fundin . The problem is that by desperately crowding out the market it ends up chiefly doing things the market will provide better. This is why it is trying to kill of the Free on line Press by dumping no-cost journalism paid for by a tax on TVs, go figure. State pop music, state celebrity dancing competitions, state purchased US product. Only the truly weird can defend it as it is.
It should be a much smaller organisation providing what the market will not and paid out of general taxation. I have to say ( Clifford) my chief objection to the BBC is not so much its bias and cultural statism as the awful dreariness it drips down to the rest of the country. Every drama occupying the same weary furrow. I guess that to philistines who ask the Government to dress them and spoon feed them cabbage soup if they could, this is probably not a problem.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 9:10pm Deelite wrote:
Wow. I understood that. You on the wagon now Paul?

I don't think the BBC needs a great deal of slimming down. Personally I very much like the dispassionate, unbiased online news and the intelligent and fair analysis (so far removed from the secretly funded right wing think tanks Paul Newman is so fond of quoting). I trust it more than any other source. Radio 1, 2, 5 and 5 live I could do without, but that's just me. BBC1, BBC2, Radio 4, 4 Extra and the World Service especially are invaluable. as is the BBC web site and iPlayer. I just wish they had a decent iPhone or mobile app (but this is something that Sky's lobbying has denied them).

As for awful dreariness. Have you seen the rubbish on Sky Paul? Even the BBCs most awfully dreary programming beats the pants off the majority of it's stupid and banal advertising-destroyed output. I'd have thought the natural home of your philistines would definitely be Sky, not the BBC.
On 4 Jan 2012 at 10:57pm Clifford wrote:
'crowding out' - that's why we like reading you so much Paul. You can always be guaranteed to parrot the latest Central Office buzzwords. Do you get speech notes from HQ to guide you?
On 4 Jan 2012 at 11:53pm Southover Queen wrote:
Oh well, each to his own. I've just been watching Sherlock on iPlayer: absolutely brilliant. Brilliantly shot, brilliantly directed, brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, brilliantly cast. It won a BAFTA last year and probably will again.

A big reason that it was so brilliantly done is because there is a thriving television sector in this country, and that's because the BBC exists. The free market simply could not not have allowed the BBC to emerge and would not now support it, and removing the "popular" bits from its remit merely makes it open to the charge of being an elitist organisation with no popular support: something the Tory libertarians know all too well. I have no use whatsoever for Radio 1, 2 or 5live (or 6, for that matter) nowadays, but I was once the keenest of Radio 1 fans. I've since graduated, as will millions of others. The BBC must cater to every section of the population (which is why half the remaining staff have just been uprooted to Salford).

The Beeb is, as many have said here, one of the few examples of excellence this country has left. We don't lead the world in much else (except, apparently, arms manufacturing). Do you know what? I'd rather have the BBC.
On 5 Jan 2012 at 7:29am Deekite wrote:
There is also no evidence whatsoever that the BBC has crowded anything out. Have you seen this interwebby thing Paul? Chock-a-block. You should try it. There also seems to be a plethora of non-BBC TV channels available. And radio stations too. Bleak Expectations (wasn't Gilian Anderson fantastic?), The Fades, Outcasts, Sherlock, Dr Who, Top Gear, Have I Got News for You. Any single one worth the cost of the licence. Paul. You are truly insane.
On 5 Jan 2012 at 8:32am DFL wrote:
OK, ok, I agree that we keep the BBC, BUT, can we please get rid of Radio 1 and Eastenders, they drive me nuts !!
On 5 Jan 2012 at 1:18pm Old Cynic wrote:
Im still laughing at PN banging on about bias - pots and kettles?

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