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Privatise it!

I agree with Andrew's comment, but I think that Dave's approach might be a little more politically astute.

If we want to privatise it, which I certainly do, we first need to remove its aura of perfection, by attacking it where it is vunerable.

Much more of this and The Sun will switch back to supporting the tories!

Aye but the BBC is one of the remaining things we have which have global primacy and in something so important as broadcasting values to rest of world should be strengthened. Chris Moyles, groundforce and frankly eastenders et al however should all be sacked, BBC should make more documentaries and make sure that arseholes in whatsitcalledastan can't be arseholes

Well, Cameron is criticising the BBC for demanding more taxpayers funds and using them to prevent innovative new players emerging, when that is exactly what Cameron has proposed with his state funding of political party plans!

Cameron wants to nationalise political parties to get more taxpayers funds and prevent new players from emerging.

He is hardly in a position to criticise the BBC and I am sure that nationally, the BBC is held in considerably higher regard than the Tory Party.

Leave the BBC alone and get you own house in order first.

At the very least the BBC should stop doing the stuff it is worst at and concentrate on providing public service broadcasting. They must accept that they are awfual at producing mass market television compared to the commercial sector, look at shows like Twin Peaks, The X Files, CSI, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Desparate Housewives, Friends, Will & Grace, House, The West Wing, Spaced, Green Wing ect ect. What do we get? Strictly Come Dancing, Davina, The Generation Game, Johnathan-bloody-Ross and a 24 hour "bringing you the reaction to the reaction" News channel which can't tell a media expert from a cab driver.

The BBC should be there to produce TV for people who can read and radio for people who have an attention span longer than the time between ad breaks. The rest can (see above) be produced very well by the market and if you don't like ad breaks I can only suggest you buy the box sets.

This is brave stuff from Osborne and I'm pleased he has done it.But he and we should be very careful for two reasons in my opinion.The BBC is very powerful and if we attack it we should be extremely sure of our ground and be prepared to argue against a backlash.Secondly I think the vast majority of people in Britain trust and love the BBC,certainly more than the Conservative party.As a mainstream TV and Radio broacaster it is a country mile ahead of its commmercial rivals and we should be wary of damaging something and replacing it with something inferior.

Of course it's ahead! It's like the airline industry in the 70's, how can the market get adhead when the BBC can squish it like a bug, just like British Airways tried to squish the smaller carriers?

..or like nationalised political parties that refuse funding to the smaller parties Henry?

But it wasn't always Henry. Some commercial broadcasters have in the past been much more respected and successful than they are now.ITV is perhaps the most high profile example.It has been losing audience share far faster than BBC because in my opinion it is (largely ) utter crap.I would hate to be where the Americans are with a plethora of commercial stations that are invariably rubbish.

I agree Malcolm, money does not guarantee quality. BBC news, BBC radio and BBC online, particularly the on demand shows are a fantastic service.

I appreciate there may be potential pitfalls in circumscribing the BBC. But that does not mean we should not do it. Similarly I believe the Tories should have sorted the BBC out in the Thatcher years, but better late than never. Doing nothing is not an option when there are so many reasons to abolish or privatise or simply reduce the BBC's scale of operations.

Invariably rubbish? So we can all expect shows of similar quality to ER, Southpark, Family Guy and The Simpsons on the BBC sometime soon?

I suggest you visit Biased BBC on Biased BBC to see that top quality depends really on your political outlook.

The BBC has over extended itself. Should a state broadcaster being showing reality TV shows for instance which have a commercial angle? What about all the spin offs like Top Gear magazine? A gradual roll back is needed imo.


great blog from tpa

I find it hard to understand support for the BBC.

Despite having two analogue terrestrial channels and various digital terrestrial channels, I hardly watch BBC TV at all.

As for the radio, I do listen to Radio 4 but more from faute de mieux than particular desire. There is no need for Radio 4 and 5 whose dual existence makes it harder for any aspirant commercial operator to enter that market. I cannot see the need for a tax funded Radio 1, 2 or 3. I do not need a BBC local radio station when there is a commecial one available.

I do not use the BBC websites. Why bother. I get more from the blogosphere.

Whilst I have been sceptical about the BBC for a long time, even I was dumbfounded by the leaks/reports on how much some people are alleged to be paid by the BBC.

My political outlook is Conservative Henry, so I don't buy your argument at all.As regards the US TV shows we'll just have to disagree,I tend to prefer British made shows and don't rate things like South Park or The Simpsons at all.

Well I dont want to privatise he BBC at all (I like watching TV without adverts and "sponsored by the Stupid Phone Company" all the time), and i think the licence fee is good value for money, but I agree with Osborne that it should stop expanding into every form of media and pseudo-social services, and concentrate on broadcasting quality programmes. And stop advertisng itself and/or digital TV so much between programmes. And get rid of those flamenco/ethnic/disabled dancers. And stop advertising its own programes in the guise of news reports.

"This is brave stuff from Osborne and I'm pleased he has done it.But he and we should be very careful for two reasons in my opinion"

Why is it "brave stuff"? Should the Conservative Party fear the BBC and if so, why? After all we all know that the BBC is "impartial". Should you complain to it that it is n't, an employee will write back and tell you that it is,indeed - impartial. So there cannot be any problem there then and don't forget the "vast majority of people in Britain love and trust the BBC".

I am informed that the numbers of punters watching BBC television is falling. A poll I saw last year stated that the majority did not want the BBC funded by the TV tax (failure to pay could send you to to prison).

"The BBC is very powerful and if we attack it we should be extremely sure of our ground and be prepared to argue against a backlash".

Why should there be a "backlash" from the BBC - don't be nasty to our Beeb. Auntie is above such small mindedness and I repeat, as anyone that works there will tell you, including the governors, the BBC is "impartial". The fact that the governors found that the BBC were guilty of bias in favour of the Jews and against Palestine proves conclusively it's supreme "impartiality". Hear, hear, we all agree with that, don't we (don't bother to read Melanie Phillip's comments nor the Times).

I suppose Oberon or someone will soon be telling us of his/her dislike of American television because it is n't funded the same as the BBC - I'll take their word for it, but in New Zealand the Kiwis refused to pay a TV licencse fee and it had to go, neither do that pay a license fee in Australia. The standard of television programmes in Oz is the equivalent to Britain's. ABC television is modelled on the BBC. The Aussies mainly ignore it and vote for the conservative Howard.

Last year I remember reading an article in the Telegraph by our one and only Boris Johnson (our "Just William" of politics). Boris was upset; he warned the BBC that the Tories would not always be out of power. I can't possible think why he wrote it - can you? (perhaps he thought it was biased against the Tories - what a disgusting thought).

You were right about Osborne being brave, Malcolm, but I would differ with you as to the reasons, but what a boring world it would be if we all agreed.

If the BBC is that great, surely the license fee could be optional?

With digital technology, it would not be difficult to only offer BBC channels to those who have bought a licence.

Those that think the BBC is wonderful can buy a license; it is however a Stalinist mentality to force people to buy a license if they don't want to pay for the BBC.

A characteristically well argued post Don'tmakemelaugh.Every poll that has looked at the subject has suggested that the BBC is liked and trusted to a greater extent than other news organisations in this country.You and I may not like that but it's tough .That was why I called Osbornes action brave,do you think it's cowardly?

I know you are going to accuse me of banging on about the same theme but the parallel is huge.

Audiences are falling so why should the public pay for the BBC?
Political party membership is falling so why should the public pay for them?

If the BBC is that great, surely the license fee could be optional?
Well, the same should apply to paying for political parties too!

I really think the BBC is a great service, but I also agree it has overstepped its reach and damaged small commercial services but the Tories are in no position to lead that criticism when they are seeking to behave in exactly the same way.

Until Cameron drops his state funding plans, criticsm of a nationalised taxpayer funded service damaging smaller rivals is the highest form of hypocrisy.

I don't care what they do as long as they leave the BBC News website alone!

Ah yes, the Beeb website, where you can post comments on Don't Have Your Say (Fully Moderated) and can read gems like this

And you can keep fully up to date on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with storys form their entirely objective journalists, like Barabara Plett

this should work for the plett story

From todays BBC news website:

"The PS3 will arrive in November and cost $499 (499 euros) for a basic model with a 20GB hard drive."

As most license payers use sterling, any idea why the price is given in dollars and euros? Is that a bit of bias slipping in?

Sorry for the "storys" btw. :-)

I was referring to the structure and content of their website rather than its political bias. If I want to see what's going on in the world the BBC News website is the first webite I'll go to. I find it to be far superior to any others.

"idea why the price is given in dollars and euros? Is that a bit of bias slipping in?"

The BBC's well known love of the almighty dollar and all things American?

Good for George.

I'd certainly like to see the wretched thing privatised, but we can all see the public still have a general affection for it.

The middle way is to strip out all the non-public service elements, reducing the licence fee accordingly. According to yesterday's S Times, we could have BBC2 and all the national radio stations for £30 pa. Dumping BBC1, Freeview, and all that anti-competitive regional gubbins would save us about £75 pa.

BBC TV to comprise only improving progs about Shakespeare and British history. The News to be read simultaneously on BBC TV and the Home Service by Alvar Liddell.

Henry thanks for the above Gem - others may like to know that Gordo (Just like Uncle Jo Stalin) works tirelessly on our behalf

"Mr Brown said among the biggest challenges he faced was ensuring people's hard earned cash was properly prioritised when he made spending decisions"

It's so good to know he has it all under control - what a fine job the BBC does of reporting the news impartially and without fear or favour.

I like the BBC. I like television without adverts. I’m happy with a lot of its programming. Like, I suspect, most of the electorate, I would be extremely wary of any move to change it.

But it needs to change. It’s a compulsorily-funded monopoly. Its news is frequently slower to come in than Sky’s, and often of a poorer quality. It squeezes out competitors. And it wastes a lot of money on froth, from bureaucracy to star wages, to foreign imports – all of which do little to advance British Broadcasting. But the question isn't whether the BBC itself is any good, but rather – is it any better than its alternatives?

Most obviously, watching television shows free of adverts is usually much more fun than wading through adverts – especially in films, drama and comedy. In terms of programming, America has obviously had The West Wing and the X-Files and suchlike -- but it's also come up with Married By America and America’s Next Top Model and goodness knows what else. Meanwhile, the BBC has plenty to be proud of: The Office, This Week, Newsnight, Life on Mars, Child of Our Time, Doctor Who, Clocking Off, Question Time and so on. I'm not a big fan of Jonathan Ross, Eastenders or Strictly Come Dancing myself, but clearly many people are and it would be churlish to suggest that they be stopped. The viewers of those shows paid for the BBC too!

So what’s the alternative? American-style free markets seem to promote the 'lowest common denominator' over niche or radical works. Shows like ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Extras’ are funded by HBO, a subscriptions channel not accessible to all. The media anyone can access is judged on different criteria from customer satisfaction. First criteria: do people buy the products advertised while the show is on? Second criteria: are there enough people watching (especially from specific target audiences) to be able to convince advertisers to buy advertising time. Then, the third criteria: does the show have critical acclaim which might benefit the reputation of the channel anyway? Not that Emmy-winning shows have avoided the chop before! None of these measures are necessarily indications of the quality of the programme, or the enjoyment people get from them.

Luckily, I think technology is starting to reach the stage where the audience can genuinely have an impact on what they watch. The BBC already has an audience 'appreciation index' which provides a rating for the popularity of television shows among those who watched them. With the growth of digital technology, it should soon be feasible for this feedback to be instantaneous -- at the click of a button -- and much more detailed. Popularity doesn't mean quality, but it is a sound basis for calculating relative success. Which satisfies its audiences better: Channel 4 News or Sky News? Religious programming might be niche: but how important is it to the people who watch it? It's a free market -- but not a free market of money. Rather, one of quality. Suddenly, the BBC’s big claim – that it guarantees fee-payers a top-quality service – can be tested.

Then you have to ask whether the BBC is for the promotion of quality British programming, or to operate as a tax-funded corporation? If the former is the case, then there’s no need for a big bureaucracy and a rigid family of channels any more. Lisence fee money can be poured straight into:

- The development of new and perhaps experimental programming.
- Uninterrupted airings of *first-run* British programming – as far as I can see, Corrie is as deserving as Eastenders, Shameless as deserving as The Street, and the Bradford Riots as deserving as The Virgin Queen.
- Programmes dealing with art, current affairs, religion and other topics which might be uncommercial but have clear educational or moral value.

What it wouldn't support is:

- Reruns. Eastenders, Doctor Who, Life on Mars and so on seem to get frequent repeat airings on the BBC; and that’s to say nothing of ‘classics’ which get frequent repeats. Why should these not be opened up to advertisers?
- Imported shows. I like television from abroad -- I'm just not sure why we should be forced to pay for some imported programmes and not others. Besides, many imported shows are designed to air with advert breaks at specific intervals.
- Successful programming where adverts are unlikely to be that intrusive. Does 'Big Brother' really suffer for having adverts? In productions of operas and plays where act breaks would exist in theatres, advert breaks are sometimes extremely welcome! And while I’d rather have half-time commentary than adverts in sports fixtures, some amount of sponsorship seems fairly harmless given that sports clubs and players are generally sponsored to the hilt already!

I still think the BBC is a great service, and we shouldn’t lose what makes it good – programming for everyone, accessible to everyone, without commercial interruption. But that doesn’t mean it needs to exist as a vast corporate entity to meet those goals.

Quite funny to hear Conservatives arguing vehemently against the license fee "poll tax" ;-)

The BBC may well be a good service, and a majority of people might think of it as a good thing, but unlike roads or hospitals or schools I don't see why I should have to pay for any of it. If I just want to have a TV to watch dvd's of movies and American tv shows then I should be able to do so without receiving a court summons leading to a massive fine. This isn't an issue where I should have to agree to disagree because there is a not inconsiderable ammount of my money to be considered.

The BBC doesn't care about your feedback. They've already got your money, citizen.

George Osborne champions the BBC's competitors
Well let's hope that the BBC takes George's advice fully on board and champions the small political parties that would get crushed by Cameron's state funding plans!

Seeing as George is so keen that small players are protected, perhaps the BBC will do the honourable thing and give a greater airtime to the small parties in the run up to future local and national elections etc.

I'm sure Cameron and Osborne would not object to giving up some of the airtime allocated to the Tory Party in order to ensure the small players are protected and get their message out too.

I'm afraid the BBC is "institutionally anti-tory" and no amount of reform is going to change that.

Government should recognise that the days of the TV Tax are coming to an end and look to a mixture of cable, internet and satelite as a means of turning the BBC into a portal for the transmission of programme content made by others and either delivered free - probably with adverts - or paid for if without them. It could easily rival Google/Yahoo as the search engine of choice for entertainment content if it did, but it needs to be quick as Gates is already talking to Murdoch about just this sort of link up.

If the BBC then took a tiny fee for transmitting the content, and used its vast archive, which would obviously be available to download at very cheap rates, it could easily fund the news and other programme content that the market doesn't do. It would also probably return a healthy profit back to the Government which could be used to cut taxes.

The local commercial radio in our area is fantastic. The DJ's are approachable, and to my knowledge are never patronising or arrogant. You can ring in about accidents and the information is broadcast straightaway. The DJ's are known and interact with the community quite closely.

Over the years, and in various circumstances I have observed how patronising and arrogant the BBC presenters are, as if removed (nose in the air) from the hoi pelloi. I wouldn't want more of the same in our area.

Like a Dalek I say Privatise-exterminate, Privatise-exterminate!!

To use quite an old argument, the stone age didn't end because people ran out of stones, it ended because we learned how to work bronze. The only thing which will kill off a state monopoly like the BBC is either the recognition that a monopoly, especially one run by the state, is always a bad thing or a massive shift in the way in which people get their media. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the first, but fortunately the second is happening right now.

It was the BBC whch broke the story of the Labour Party's 'sexing up' military intelligence pre-Iraq. They paid a heavy price for doing so - Greg Dyke, Andrew Gilligan and all. Maybe they could have stopped the war, if they had not been silenced.

The independence of the media has been severely compromised under Labour. I don't care how we pay for them. We need a strong and independent news service which the Government cannot control. If that means a dominant BBC, that's a price I'm prepared to pay.

We don't want a Labour-compliant BBC to be replaced by a Cameron/Osborne compliant one. We need to hear the truth whether it is convenient to the government or not.

William, have you ever listened to the Today Programme? Here is a choice example from March 3rd this year. Coleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant US Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy is not even allowed to answer the questions Humphreys puts to her about Guantanamo .

The video download market? That's called "bit torrent"! If there ever was a more stillborn business plan, I've not heard of it. BBC will get a look-in only because it's planning on giving away freebies.

The internet nowadays does all the high minded stuff that BBC was invented to do, equally free, and without picking anyone's pocket. Wikipedia, blogs, podcasts etc. There's no reason at all to keep the telly tax, except inertia.

Thank goodness that at least Malcolm is prepared to be the voice of reason on this thread.

I will never understand the determination of Conservatives, supposedly the staunchest defenders of Britain and the best of British culture, to run down the BBC, which is a national treasure and arguably the only British institution that remains the envy of the world.

Moving towards privatisation/commercialisation of the BBC is something that fills me with dread when I consider the dumbing down of standards and drive towards populism that would inevitably follow.

The BBC doesn't always get it right, some of its programming is of dubious quality, sometimes it does show signs of journalistic bias, but I'll tell you this for nothing - I'd rather put up with all those flaws if it means not seeing the only purveyor of high quality broadcasting (with the possible exception of Channel 4 and its sister channels, another viper's nest of raving lefties!) reduced to regurgitating the same sort of unsophisticated, unstimulating, culturally vapid, populist dross that fills the schedules of the ITV channels, the Sky channels and (shudders) Five.

PS I am a big fan of the Simpsons though... :-)

when I consider the dumbing down of standards and drive towards populism that would inevitably follow

Actually I'm arguing for exactly the opposite. It is the BBC which produces some of the lowest quality programming whilst at the same time claiming to be the home of excellence. Davina? Homes Under The Hammer? The BBC is already using license payers money to do exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to be doing, and doing a much worse job of it than the commercial sector that you run down so.

It should also be borne in mind that it is exactly because the BBC exists, in many cases, that equivalent or better programming is not out there in the commercial sector to provide similar or better content. This is especially true in terms of internet and local news services. If the BBC were cut down to size then things would not be the same, other providers would spring up and the media would be more vibrant and creative.

The BBC should stick to producing programmes of excellence. How can the BBC claim to be a true public service broadcaster when it sacrifices quality for ratings (not that those aren't the same thing in many cases) and bins progamming of minority interest. 6Music, 1Extra, Radio's 3 and 4, BBC 4, why are these considered to be the Cinderella networks, when these are the ones which really fulfill the BBC's committment to providing the content which commercial stations do not?

It should be mentioned that the commercial sector, combined with a discerning audience, produces some great television. If a show does badly, then it is immediately culled, something which doesn't happen if a market mechanism isn't in place. It is the irony of ironies that most dramas on the BBC eg This Life learnt the tricks of continuous story arcs and character development from US shows which are still of much higher quality. Successful shows run longer in the US as well, with a season of 22 or so episodes and much longer runs.


The BBC is in many ways a great organisation, and despite much daytime dross does produce some great entertainment. BBCi and the world service provide a fantastic advert for the UK and our values around the world.

But it is a great dinosaur trampling emerging talent as it flails around trying to cover every base. I can't think what reason it has for expending into very local TV. Its content library means it will compete unfairly with emerging entrants in the new media.

Then look at what it does now - why do Radio 1 or Radio 2 have to be licence funded (and paying star staff above commercial rates)? BBC1 on the whole produces the same programmes to the same quality as ITV - Holby City, Eastenders etc fill the schedules.

We need to be conservative in looking at the BBC - conserving by keeping what is best, but changing some bits so it survives in the emerging new media world but without limiting competition unfairly.

"Populism" is an artefact of broadcast which is driven by viewer numbers to pick content with lukewarm appeal to the broadest spread of people. It would be an unfair slur on humanity to read that as defining the culture. The internet shows you people's real face: a billion niches, in which highbrow gets as good a showing as lowbrow. Please erase the insulting idea of "populism" from your consideration.

If BBC has any future, it would probably be by picking a niche or several (period drama?), and quitting trying to be everything to everyone. But then it would probably turn a (small) profit, and no longer need a tax.

Yup, i can really see the commercial networks being ever so happy to have the BBC privatised and soaking up all that advertising revenue!

Liberal Avenger: I remember a time when Labour used to argue that privatisation would lead to a contraction of the telephone network. Not one of their most accurate predictions.

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