Sunday, October 18, 2009

Destroy The BBC

Here we go again, pressure is building in political circles and in the media, well, in those parts of the media owned by News International, to dismantle the media monster that is the BBC and sell of its anti-competitive assets to the highest bidder......News International perhaps.

Various MP's have weighed into the argument claiming that the £139.50 Licence Fee that the BBC gathers is an unfair tax and should be abolished, forcing the BBC to fend for itself. Of course, our current batch of MP's know all about unfair tax systems as many of them have been manipulating the same things to feather their nests for some time now, and MP's are glad of pretty much any issue to deflect public attention from their own numerous shortcomings.

I would to present a defence of the BBC though, because I think that the BBC is absolutely on of the very best things about the UK. Nowhere across the world, and I have travelled quite a bit and experienced media in many other countries, do we have a public broadcasting service of the breadth and quality of the BBC.

My personal usage of the BBC is as follows.... - I click on the website daily for news and sports results, plus taking in a few science articles, magazine articles and music reviews when time allows.

Radio - I listen to the news on R5 most days, and I enjoy the more in depth news pieces and magazine programmes on R4 as well, and then there is Test Match Special of course, that most English of programmes and perhaps the most wonderful thing that sports radio has ever accomplished.

Downloads - I download news and programme podcasts from R4, music news from R6, folk music from R2

TV - I don't watch a lot of television, but BBC News, 24 or not, is always worth catching up with and for a few specific programmes that I love, the Licence Fee is always going to be worth paying. I will always willingly shell out my hard earned money for the well researched and beautifully made nature programmes made by the BBC, Life On Earth, Wild, Blue Planet, Nature's Great Events, Spring/Autumn Watch, all are fantastic.

The BBC do drama brilliantly as well, I'm a big fan of Waking The Dead, Mrs YS loves Eastenders which has millions of loyal fans, they do wonderful one off or short series drama and of course nobody else does costumed / period drama quite as well as the BBC.

i-Player - As an offshoot of the BBC TV this is a brilliant idea, I work a lot of evenings and I'm quite absent minded, so I often miss programmes that look quite interesting, but now I can watch them at a time of my own choosing on my PC.

All this costs me (and each of you in the UK) £139.50 a year.
£11.63 a month
Just 39 pence a day.

The BBC is a national institution, and one we can be justifiably proud of. It produces a wealth of high quality programming across the broadest spectrum of interests and demographics, no matter what your age, political or religious persuasion or specific interest group, there will be something on the BBC that appeals to you.

I do worry that with the groundswell of moaning about the Licence Fee and the size and scope of the BBC that we run the risk of damaging beyond repair something that works extremely well for the widest part of the community. What is it in the future that we want our broadcaster to be ? Do we really want to break the BBC up and have each part of it reduced to a share owned business competing against all the other media interests ? Just have a look at today's programmes on Sky 1....

Malcolm In The Middle
WWE Experience
Oops Tv
Project Runway
New UK Border Force
Modern Family

And over on BBC 1

The Big Questions
Country Tracks
The Politics Show
'Allo 'Allo
Points Of View
Sport - Grand Prix
Film - Good Will Hunting

This is a fairly typical pattern, whilst the BBC schedule is largely made up of programmes produced by the corporation, Sky's schedule is largely made up of foreign (and by this I mean US) imports with only a tiny fraction of the material shown being made by Sky for a British audience. I am not arguing against the quality of Sky's shows here (except in the case of the number of cheap reality police shows currently proliferating, across all channels), indeed I am fan of Lost and I am getting into the (Lost-a-like) Flash Forward, but the fact remains that other channels tend to buy in rather than produce. I also accept that this buying in to pack out the schedule may be partly as a result of the BBC's funding, but I do not see it as an argument for dismantling the BBC itself.

We also run the risk of damaging another strand of our cultural identity, programmes made by, featuring, and intended for the British are a vital part of what we are. I feel that already there is far too much American influence in the media, in mass market films, tv and music, let's not have this influence extended further into the UK's consciousness, be proud of what you and what you can be as a Brit, don't be constantly looking to the US as more glamorous and interesting.

Sometimes people say you don't know what you've got until it's gone, and this really could be the case of the BBC, we have a wonderful service in the Licence Fee funded broadcaster, let's not ruin it.


  1. Saying all that the US dramas we've seen recently from the likes of HBO far outstrip what little drama output the Beeb comes up with.

    The Beeb really don't help themselves.

  2. Dr. Who
    Criminal Justice
    Bleak House
    Little Dorrit
    Sense and Sensibility
    Jane Eyre
    The 39 Steps
    The Tudors
    Life On Mars
    The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
    Silent Witness

    Didn't the Beeb also have a hand in the fantastic Band of Brothers ?

  3. Dr. Who - kiddies focus group driven drivel, not a patch on original.
    CJ - dire, could have been done in 2 hours, every BBC sterotype imaginable.
    Bleak House - was excellent, shake me up Judy.
    LD - There are other writers, yeah I know I liked BH.
    SaS - There are other writers than Austen, how many times have they "made" it?
    JE - they've made that how many times?
    39 Steps - If you're going to make the ultimate version actually follow the book and don't create 21st century PC characters.
    Archangel - OK but seen better
    The Tudors - you are having a laugh aren't ya, more to do with the rubbish Yank crap you were talking about.
    LoM - Good, notice you don't include the dire sequel.
    No. 1 - Alright as gentle Sunday night stuff goes.
    Silent Witness - Oh dear god, almost makes CSI Miami watchable.
    BoB - yes they did, though it was an HBO job.

  4. Paddy9:46 am

    Regardless of anything else £139.50 for TMS seems like a complete bargain to me.


  5. Yeah but their even trying to destroy TMS with the useless new "presenters", Arlo White and the likes. And anyway it should be on a Beeb telly channel with Aggers etc available via the red button.

    But then they'd have to bin Ross, Norton, Fry's excessive handouts and reschedule all the cheap daytime dross.

  6. Funny, I'm a Yank and some of my favorite shows are Top Gear, Dragon's Den, and Kitchen Nightmares. I love BBC America.