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Archive for the ‘licence fee’ Category

Not a moment too soon it actually looks like the BBC’s cosy world of unaccountability, an appallingly cavalier attitude to income it does not earn but extorts from the general public for whom it has constantly shown nothing but contempt in recent years, and a severe political bias that has penetrated every level of the organisation over several decades, is about to come to an abrupt end. It certainly looks like Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative culture secretary, has actually been listening to people like me (and there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people like me) and has bravely, recognising the urgent necessity, decided to be the one to stand up to and take on the monolithic social, economic and cultural parasite that our national broadcaster, in its current form, has become.

If we are to believe what Hunt has told the Daily Telegraph, then the skids really are finally under the BBC closed shop. Furthermore, if its managers refuse to budge on certain issues, including Hunt’s very reasonable proposal that there be a significant reduction in the ridiculous licence tax given the Labour-generated current economic climate, then it could, finally, finally, herald the moment when long-overdue and massive reform comes to the creaking, unfit-for-purpose, throwback-Soviet organisation.

The Telegraph reports Hunt as saying, among other things:

There are huge numbers of things that need to be changed at the BBC. They need to demonstrate the very constrained financial situation we are now in

All the concerns I had in opposition about executive salaries and use of licence fee funds for things many people thought were extraordinary or outrageous – that (next year) will be moment when I express them

Now, I know this won’t lead to the kind of breaking-up of the corporation I want to see, with the selling off of all but the core radio and TV channels (R4, R2, Five Live, BBC1 and 2), the abolition of the jurassic licence fee (to be replaced by a central grant, charitable status and fundraising powers), but I certainly recognise that this is far more than mere gesture politics at a ripe moment. Hunt means to force the BBC into putting its house in real order, or else.

Never thought I’d see the day. Well done Jeremy Hunt. Let battle commence!

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Rod Liddle in the Speccy has quoted a first class Charles Moore piece to help him emphasise his own refreshing and welcome disdain for the direction the BBC has been taking for the past decade or so, especially as regards its squandering of the licence fee tax on overpaid and highly over-rated “talent”. He points out that Moore illustrates the contradiction that lies at the heart of the BBC’s funding-spending model and the dishonesty in senior managers’ constant attempts to deflect our attention away from it. Liddle writes:

Charles’s diary in the last edition of the magazine put far more succinctly, and clearly, the point I was trying to get at in my blog about the BBC a few items down from this one. I talked about the BBC’s moral cross-subsidisation (which is never publicly admitted by the corporation) and how this is increasingly difficult to justify. Charles puts it better, with this exposition of what lies at the heart of the “endless contradiction” which the BBC exploits

Excellent, sure, but then he goes on to quote Moore:

“When you complain that it is funded in a privileged way, it says that it does things which no one else can do. When you complain that it spends its unique funding on enormous contracts with stars, it says it has to do so in order to behave like its rivals. The truth is that the concept of the star……….is incompatible with the Public Purposes expressed in the Charter of the BBC.”

Brilliantly put. What I know is that the corruption at the centre of the BBC, and its cause has seldom been more eloquently articulated than it is by Moore here, must be challenged and the corporation reformed, broken-up or abolished altogether.

Until then, for instance, more than a quarter of all criminal court actions will continue to be licence fee-tax related. People will continue to go to jail and/or be fined extraordinarily punitive amounts in their tens of thousands simply because, as is often the case, they cannot afford to fund the lifestyle of people like Jonathan Ross.

That is unacceptable, and this government had better do something about it in this parliament or be viewed, at least by this blogger, as a failure.

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Whether it’s a typical public sector ingrained sense of entitlement or some quite new and unique phenomenon, the BBC simply isn’t learning. Now that Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, has been publicly contradicted by a putative inferior in the form of the Director General, Mark Thompson, over the publication of salaries, one can safely assume that the watering down of Lyons’ remarks that we heard on Radio 4 this morning will only gather pace. If Lyons doesn’t regain control of his underlings pretty quickly it will simply serve to send the clearest of messages to people that the corporation is out of control.

But why has Mark Thompson decided to go down this road of secrecy? He says it’s because the BBC needs to be able to compete for the ‘best talent’ and its being forced to reveal pay levels when other stations don’t would lead to their having an unfair advantage.

OK, let’s deal with that first then: what utter, dishonest tosh! He and his ilk really do think we’re that stupid. The BBC already has a massive ‘unfair advantage’ in that it can legally extort under penalty of fine and imprisonment a large sum of money from the vast majority of the adult population of Great Britain. And yet the salaries go on secretly increasing and programmes just keep on getting worse and worse. That’s not just my opinion, the BBC Trust has just said so too. Let’s not hear talk of unfair advantages again then, lest we move on to the BBC’s virtual monopoly of radio in this country and its sinister and vastly expensive occupation of vast tracts of cyberspace.

How has this come to pass? Because people like Thompson over the years have transformed the BBC from public service broadcaster, paid for out of a modest appliance licence fee, into some form of parasitical organism which pretends benevolence but in actual fact is gradually sucking the life out of its host. The BBC’s host is Britain. You can say whatever you like about the BBC, but if it is positive, then I’m likely to disagree. Why? Well, you want to know the real reason why Thompson doesn’t want salaries published? I’ll give you a clue: it has nothing to do with paying incredible fortunes for top talent – you know, ‘top talent’ like Fiona Bruce or Jonathan “Top Ranker” Woss (at least he’s gone) – and everything to do with his ever-ballooning salary and the generous salaries of the managerial class that’s taken over that organisation. That’s how the parasitism incubates itself and then spreads throughout the entire organism. It has managed to reproduce itself, with its eggs usually being transmitted through the crap that comes out of the mouths of public sector managers everywhere, in just about every public body in the nation now.

It happened to the BBC some time ago (perhaps the BBC was the first); it happened to the NHS, another deeply infected body, generally over the last 13 nightmare years of a Labour government. Thompson, like all fakes, is uncertain about whether he’s worth the money he pays himself. If he is certain, then he should declare all and stop hiding behind this fatuous argument about ‘attracting the best talent’ (for one thing, it’s not the BBC’s job to compete with commercial television, for another, its job is to grow new talent, not hire overpriced old hands). Failing that, Thompson, after these new Telegraph revelations, should resign – or be sacked by the coalition government. New broom and all that.

In the end, the most depressing thing about all this is that, for whatever pathetic reason, since it’s now crystal clear the BBC just isn’t learning, it must be forced to see the error of its ways with sackings and the genuine threat of ‘restructuring’.

Humph. If this interesting David Blackburn take on events ‘t Beeb is anything to go on, then fat chance!

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The treatment of its captive audience by the BBC has long been a total scandal, especially in the area of funding, where its behaviour, especially over the past ten to fifteen years, has become beyond sinister and threatening to the point where it could well be – and probably is – illegal according to international law.

But I had no idea just how big an impact the BBC’s licence fee collection army has on the entire legal system until, that is, I started following Charles Moore’s protest of disobedience at the handling of the Ross-Brand outrage in 2008. Today, he’s written what I imagine will be his last piece on the now-resolved case (which he lost, naturally) in which he reveals some truly chilling facts, especially towards the end, about just how massive a drain on the nation’s resources the BBC has become, in every sense:

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing I have discovered over the past 20 months is the vast tide of small-scale human misery which the licence fee causes. In 2008-09, there were 168,800 prosecutions for licence-fee evasion. That is nearly 15 per cent of all prosecutions. Almost all the people charged are poor. The telly is one of their few pleasures, and they tend not to watch the BBC on it. And yet, for want of £142.50, tens of thousands clog up the courts every year.

Yesterday in Hastings, a young single mother was tried for the same offence as mine. She had a baby in a pushchair, and I agreed with the clerk to let her case go first, so that she could get out in time to fetch her other children out of school. I can see no justice and no humour in a situation where people like her are punished, so that people like Ross can get his £6 million.

The BBC is a parasitical organism, draining life out of our culture, our society, our politics and our economy with its PC anti-intellectualism, its decadence, its political bias and its greed.

It’s time this particular disease of the body politic was cured.

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