Sunday, July 06, 2008

Time to Shrink the BBC 2

I notice that my suggestion that the BBC should be reduced to one TV channel and one radio station is now being embraced by a think tank and the Observer. I came round to the view once it became clear that the BBC's versions of popular genres were no better and frequently much worse than those produced commercially. Once that happens there can be no justification for the BBC making such programmes. It is worth noting, in this context, that none of the cop shows I discuss today is on the BBC. When I floated BBC shrinkage, I assumed it was impossible, given the power of the organisation and the inertia of media politics. But if it's being floated in a media house journal like the Observer.... well, it's probably going to happen.


  1. Indeed, one can take Channel Dave as a proof-of-concept in these terms, given that it already shows the only BBC programmes worth watching.

  2. This will happen when pigs fly. When did any empire voluntarily shrink itself?

  3. Just read the sad news of the death of Charles Wheeler, his analysis of the BBC was very much to the point, basically it was disappearing up its own posterior.

  4. is it an unpopular tax? compared to what, all other taxation? if it wasn't a ''tax'' and people had to pay 33p a day for a ''service'', I bet most would happily pay up.
    I always say we get what we deserve. yes, by and large it's crap but then so is everything else.

  5. The only program I watch regularly on BBC1 is Have I Got News for You which was originally a BBC2 series anyway.
    The quandary for the BBC is that they have to attract a large number of viewers to justify their existence while be seen to be fulfilling their remit of public service broadcasting.
    They seem to have tried to meet both aims by putting all the rubbishy ITV style programs, that people will watch in vast numbers,on BBC1 and 2 while most of the good things are on BBC4 where hardly anyone sees them.
    I wouldn't mind if they slimmed down to 2 channels, one for the prole feed and one for the quality viewers.
    As for BBC Radio...Since Humphrey Lyttleton died they can shut the whole operation down for all I care.

  6. There is a secret internal BBC memo from 2000 floating around the net which shows that given a choice, 58% of people would not watch or pay for a BBC service.

    Top Gear is the only BBC programme I watch, although this might change next year with the MotoGP having left Eurosport.

    Why should I need to pay 33p a week for a programme which only has 12 or so episodes per annum? I would much prefer to spend £20 to buy the DVD and know that my money wasn't being used to fund the propaganda of ideas I don't believe in.

    It is time we saw the BBC as offering one place where you can find Free to Air unbiased news and public information films. Everything else can be bought if needed- for a lot less than 33p a day!

  7. Collapse the BBC into News and Weather, with ABSOLUTELY NO COMMENT.

    Turn the rest into a commercially viable business, then from the profits, pay back the "License Fees" they have received from viewers the last 20 years - in the form of a donation to the NHS.

    I am serious.

  8. The problem is how, these days, to ideologically justify a preference for a notion of 'popularity-independent' quality.

    This notion relies on understandings of High culture which, though I embrace them personally (and perhaps many more would if they could -if they weren't so besmirched), are profoundly unpopular for reasons which should be unpacked and explored...and justified, publically.

    The idea that 'We know what's best for you. We know what's good for you' is not in-itself, actually, the problem. If it were we would not be as bossed around as we are today by the Government and by Brussels, who cleearly see no problem with the principle when they are the 'We' in question.

    Though this is what 'anti-elitists', of course, will say is the problem about the traditional basis upon which the BBC was founded if asked to justify their shameless pursuit of ratings, at the taxpayers expense, beyond mere marketing considerations.

    It is something about the very nature of high how it takes thought, and reckons with a higher spiritual meaning to life in general that is so offensive to the philistines sat in high places, I believe.

    And then these culturally sceptical ruling classes have the gall and cheek to turn round on people, whom they, and they alone, have deprived of high culture and patronise them for being chavs and boorish and crude, blah blah, as if it were not totally obvious that there is a connection between how you educate a person's mind and soul and how he behaves.

    If I was given to theories of middle class contempt for the masses more than I am, I would wonder if this is all a case of "keep them thick, and keep them down".

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  10. 'The quandary for the BBC is that they have to attract a large number of viewers to justify their existence while be seen to be fulfilling their remit of public service broadcasting.'

    A question to ask, though, Stephen is - why would people not want to watch programmes of innate quality (once we've won the debate on the very existence of 'innate quality'..a tall order perhaps). It just seems deeply patronising (and snobbish) to me to blanketly suppose they wouldn't. The myth of the unthinking, unreflective working class man is surely operative here? While its true chavery grows and is real, it is in no way the whole story.

    But even if it were more true than it is, the tastes of most people regarding the life of the mind and the aesthetic sensibility, get formed earlier on, before they choose whether to watch quality TV or not..namely at school.

    Given our educational superficiality and excessive neglect of the humanities and high culture, is it any wonder people might not want to watch a certain programme, even though at a deeper level something within them might actually want to...but feels excluded and debarred from doing so by the perception of the inaccessible attaching to these programmes, formed in them because they had not been prepared for them by their education. What a long sentence...

    As I see it, if the BBC is not to be an influence to promote quality in broadcasting for reasons separate from maximising ratings - as against commercial channels - then what exactly is its reason for existing? It has an opportunity and freedom to raise its sights, culturally speaking, that commercial channels lack to a far greater extent, because of the bottom line imperatives which, without tax income, they are indeed entirely governed by.

    So why doesn't it do this more than it does?

    It should of course exist, but surely people through their tax payments to the BBC, are expecting to be educated and shown something different and interesting, not just the same stuff they can get on the other channel for the price of enduring commercials.

    I will say, however, after all my anti-Auntie wrath, that I think the BBC websites is very good..and much appreciated here in the desert.

    But yes Bryan, the BBC could be shrunk -IF that was then passed over into lower tax obligations for people. But would it? Or would the money just go elsewhere?

  11. for goodness sake dont stop the tv license now when I have paid it all these years, I get mine free in january, come on , play the game lads