Friday, November 21, 2008

The BBC doing what it does best

Today's the day the BBC Trust report back on the Brand/Ross debacle. It's widely expected they'll announce their retreat from their proposed network of local video sites at the same time. This morning's Today programme contained an excellent feature about the dilemma that Manuelgate has thrust the Corporation into.

Old generation licence fee payers, like Charles Moore, resent being asked to subsidise material that offends them. New generation licence fee payers, like Emily Bell, wonder how long people will be happy to pay the money for a TV licence when the TV is no longer the machine through which they access most of the BBC's output. Other media organisations wonder whether there are any areas that the BBC doesn't see itself getting into. Members of Parliament question why senior BBC management seems to get paid more than its counterparts in the private sector.

Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson was given the John Humphreys treatment over these and other questions. I'm not sure that she put any of them to bed but the fact that a BBC programme did this item, and did it so well, is a very strong argument for the licence fee. You can listen to it here.


  1. I must admit that's what impressed me, I never seen ITV bosses grilled like that on the main ITV news.

  2. Anonymous2:13 pm

    Ah, Charles Moore, the man least likely to get caught up in a rap feud. Well, him and 'Dickie' Bird.

    Regarding the BBC:

    In early 1999 I was visiting Ukrainian friends of mine in Odessa at the same time as NATO was conducting a bombing campaign during the Kosova war. Given their close historical ties with Serbia, there was a lot of strong feeling about this amongst Russians/Ukrainian’s. In fact Bill Clinton was a far greater hate figure at that time than George Bush was to become four years later.

    One night during my stay, I was sat watching the Ukrainian news at my friend’s apartment. This turned out to be the night that NATO bombed a refugee convoy killing scores of people:

    Needless to say, this didn’t go down well with my friends, with the father of the family becoming very animated and angrily wanting to know if “they will show this in the West”. I told him the one thing that I knew he’d readily except; “The BBC will show it”. He was still upset, but agreed with what I’d said.

    Of course, all the media outlets back home had been covering the story, but they don’t have the BBC’s standing and reputation in the world. It was a reputation I was glad of that night.


  3. I believe the licence fee is the biggest bargin we have. The BBC is a fabulous thing and the recent ruck over the Brand and Ross prank is a very good indicator of this.

    ITV for example caters for the lowest commomn demoninator. Its output is bland and sterile because it has to be in order to attract advertisers.

    The BBC on the other hand can push the envelope and give us a wide and eclectic output. I can't stand the Saturday night entertainment that BBC One puts out but millions of people do and it is a fair trade off, in my opinion, for BBC 4 and Radio 7.

    The BBC is a national treasure precisely because Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross can say the 'f' word on the radio.

  4. How many people are sent to prison each year for non payment of fines relating to not having a licence? Hundreds. But as long as arrogant tw*ts like Ross get their millions that's alright.

    Marmiteboy, you like BBC4 and Radio 7, fine, you pay for it. Don't expect everyone else to chip in as well.

    The BBC is not a national treasure, it's the middle class dole. The sooner it's scrapped the better.

  5. Andrew, I hope you enjoy The X-Factor and How To Look Good Naked, as when the licence is done away with, that's all you'll get. I wonder if those who really hate the licence fee ever go so far as to boycott all BBC output just to make their case.

    Thought not.