Saturday, August 25, 2007

Helping ourselves to the BBC

Between putting a few old adversaries back in their boxes and making it pretty clear he wasn't planning to move to Salford Quays, Jeremy Paxman made some good points in his lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival.
The licence fee will not last forever. The BBC can't do everything. The more they do the less scrutiny the individual bits get. The marriage of convenience between the news organisations and the political parties has eroded our faith in the institutions of government. It's all about money.
His plea was for the BBC to work out its priorities and to put more emphasis on what is delivers rather than how it delivers it. Because Paxman is a big old fashioned TV anchor, buried at the heart of his argument was a tacit assumption that TV news is of massive importance to our national well being and that we are all thirsting for the next award-winning TV hit, the next "Life On Earth" or "Bleak House".
I don't know about this. Here's my BBC diet nowadays.
BBC-1: only for football
BBC-2: rarely
BBC-3: Never
BBC-4: Lots
BBC News 24: hardly ever
Radio One: Never
Radio Two: Never
Radio Three: Never
Radio Four: All the time
Five Live: All weekend
Digital music stations - never
Local radio - never - all the time
So if the BBC ever does have to cut back to the core how does it decide what constitutes that core? It's no use justifying my licence fee on the basis of how much EastEnders it buys, how much of Jonathan Ross's salary it pays or how good it makes Newsnight, because I never watch any of them. I watch TV for maybe an hour a day and only by accident do I ever end up watching any of those things that TV executives spend their time worrying about. I'm a fringe TV user. That's just the way things are.
Although I concur with Paxman's view that the Corporation is besotted with pointless interactivity and "tell us what you think by text", money spent on making the BBC's material more available to me at the time I want it is money well spent as far as I'm concerned. And the medium I shall be using to access most of that material is the web. Which, as far as I'm concerned, Jeremy, is more interesting, congenial and ultimately more important than TV.


  1. I had similar thoughts about all this on seeing some a massive poster campaign for Eastenders and having no idea who any of the people where and realising I hardly ever watch BBC1. The favourites on my freeview boxs are getting slowly whittled down to less than 10 stations, 3 of which are radio channels. Even the radio lost out the other day when some witless bafoon on radio 6 with no irony commented that " the singer from the sugarcubes sounds very much like bjork" Newsnight when ever i catch it can be amazing tedious and pointless they seem to talk to the same 7 people all the time to no avail. I do think that if the BBC were to go we would loose a great deal, Maybe they should just wind down BBC1 and loose news 24

  2. Anonymous6:23 pm

    My usage of the BBC is almost exactly the same as yours, although I also listen sometimes to 6Music. I did, however, make the mistake of turning it on this morning at breakfast, and the DJ was a woman so witless and thick I had to turn it off.

    BBC3 - who watches it? Morons?

  3. Anonymous6:39 pm

    6 music was great to begin with and now it's really gormless. they're always trying to be so down with the kids getting some comedy dick to front a music show with their funny mates. The biggest turn off is 'text and email me with what you've done', make up your own fucking content you twats, the worst example was on Radio 1 last winter - text your pictures of the snow to us. Why? It's a RADIO station.
    Sorry for sweary, but it drives me mad

  4. Totally agree about the web. That's where the enquiring minds have migrated. It must be TV's biggest problem.

  5. No local radio? So you don't listen to Danny Baker? That's a shame because he's always plugging The Word. Like yourself, he also does an excellent (albeit soon to cost a few quid) podcast.

    I'm a big fan of the BBC and am prepared to accept that not all their output is going to be targeted at my particular demographic. I just wish they'd get out of making reality game shows like DanceX etc. Leave that rubbish to ITV. It's simply the latest manifestation of It's a Royal Knockout - patronising, and ultimately detrimental and demeaning to both participant and broadcaster.

    I think I can live with most of the BBC's faults (although they do seem to be increasing of late). A network-wide, fully commercial output on our screens would be the nightmare scenario.

    Like yourself, I can't stand the obsession with asking people to text in, but watching a visibly uncomfortable Dimbleby have to plug that aspect on Question Time is strangely satisfying.

  6. I've never understood the apparent demarcation of BBC TV channels. If I see a programme listed I'll watch it. BBC3 has some fine comedies but that doesn't mean that they all are. I see that next week on BBC4 there's a Paul Simon concert called something like "BBC One Concert Series" Why? Either show it on BBC1 or call it Paul Simon in concert! A far as I'm concerned, I watch 2 channels the list from by Freeview recorder and the list from my Sky+ box. The only reason I know which real channel they were recorded from is that some airhead has decided that all BBC3 and BBC4 output is improved by the addition of a DOG.

  7. Anonymous9:46 am

    Against my better judgement I put on 6Music again this morning. The DJ, one 'Natasha', was playing fruit related songs! So she played the likes of Raspberry Beret, Peaches, Pineapple Head, and (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP) Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday!!!

  8. Anonymous12:30 pm

    I'm another whose BBC intake is pretty similar to yours. However my main exposure to BBC News 24 has been on holiday when it's one of the few English language channels available. What dismays me is the paucity of information they provide. They carry about half a dozen stories, recycled again and again. There is a whole world of news out there which just gets ignored.
    The other thing the annoys the hell out of me, and is one of the things Paxman touched on, is the obsession with live news against analysis. If there is no reporter standing in front of a building (or in a flooded field or whatever) there is no story. We get the ridiculous sight of reporters standing in front of Parliament or the Foreign Office or the Stock Exchange, late at night as though this adds some extra dimension of authenticity to what they are saying.

  9. I live in the USA now.

    As Joni might have it, you don't know what you've got till it's gone: I miss the BBC, with all it's faults, like mad.

    Having said that, BBC3 is crap.