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On several occasions, you (Tim) have posted opinion-type entries on ToryDiary and there has been a flood of criticism in the comments - eg the article on Israel/Lebanon from Victoria Kluk, and recently the Vanessa Gearson/Mark McGregor saga.

The argument always ends up as "It's Tim's blog, he can write what he likes", which is fair enough.

I think however that ConservativeHome and the readership it serves so well would benefit from the website becoming more and more like a newspaper. Indeed, you have to acknowledge that CH is (and should be) more than just 'your' blog.

As such, would it not be the right time to start labelling entries as "News" and "Editorial" (or "Opinion")???

I hope you don't mind some constructive criticism...

I should have made clear in the above - the reason i bring it up now is that i think this article on Hugo Swire's reaction to the BBC agreement is one of the ones that should be marked "Editorial"....

Anyway, over to you Tim...

Gordon Brown is trying to impose a 5 year Incomes Policy offering nurses 1.5% - it seems funny to insulate The State Broadcasting Corporation from reality by giving it 6.2% as Thompson demanded, especially when Thompson gets paid over three times Brown's salary from those same taxpayers - and Thompson can pay £18 million to Jonathan Woss.

Frankly the BBC should be frozen or cut............but i think ring-fencing £400 million for the move to Salford and £600 million for the digital switchover of recalcitrant viewers is inspired.

If the Tories want to feather-bed the BBC so be it, but Brown has scored an ace on this issue

Looking at the Christmas schedules there is nothing to distinguish BBC's output from the commercial channels. In fact, Five is airing the "Royal Institution Christmas Lectures" and ITV is showing "Zulu" and "Jason and the Argonauts". Remind me why do we pay for the BBC?

You're right F and I'll think how news and comment can be more honestly differentiated so that readers always know what they're getting.

I would support every word of Hugo Swire's fairly restrained comment. The BBC is an anachronism and should not be funded by a compulsory broadcasing tax.

Are you reading the same Hugo Swire comment as me RodS?

I can't see anything he said that should give your views comfort.

As ever the Conservatives drop the ball totally when it comes to the BBC.

Despite the fact that they are, and have been for a very long time indeed, institutionally anti Tory, amongst many other lefty prejudices, we still can't seem to manage the bite the bullet and say what needs to be said; The BBC is a wildly biased, largely unnecessary, anachronism whose time and purpose are long passed and whose lack of fairness and balance have put it in an untenable position. It is ourtrageous that we are all taxed to pay for a broadcaster that I for one never ever watch and cannot trust to tell me the truth anyomre, especially in their new media forays.

It is way past the time that the BBC was broken up and sold off, a method that will preserve the popular and profitable elements of programme making, such as the Natural History output and, unfortunately, the likes of Eastenders, whilst putting a final stop to the disgrace of left wing propaganda masquerading as news and current affairs output being paid for by money extorted from the taxpayer. Reithism is long dead and it is time that the BBC was too, especially in the light of their totally unfair and anticompetitive efforts to dominate the emerging new media outlets at our expense.

I personally believe in the BBC but I think it as to be far more focused than it as been in recent years.
It as to firstly concentrate on areas that commercial television i.e., that do not attract ratings and when it does do popular programming it should be making those programmes with an eye on quality rather than ratings.
We need a broadcater in this country like the BBC who as a public service remit and a worldwide reputation for quality its just that the Corporation as not in recent years been doing what its there for as well as it should and we need to see that change. We need change rather than revolution.

The obvious way forward would be to privatise the BBC subject to a requirement that a quota of public service programmes must be produced.

The BBC have a good name for quality drama and current affairs programmes. These are profitable and will obviously continue.

There's a huge choice of TV programmes now even if (like me) you only have Freeview.

It's quite impossible to justify the licence now. Abolition should be a key Tory policy.

I think Tim has slightly missed the point of what Hugo is saying. A subtle change has happened in the relationship between Government and the BBC. The BBC is being asked to fund Government programmes - such as digital switchover - as well as do things the Government wants it to do, like move to Salford, again using the licence fee money. Tessa Jowell has only just admitted that digital switchover will cost at least £600 million (that's just targeted help): this means the licence fee would have to rise by more than £7 just to fund that. So that is Hugo's point. And before you all bellow - yes, I am trying to get the media to pick up on this and yes, I do agree the BBC has spread itself too far (see my speeches in the last two debates on the BBC).

We should abolish the BBC which is funded through exortion and theft, i.e. the licence fee. Hugo Swire is a typical Old Etonian Cameroon - full of triangulating nonsense!

Ed Vaizey and Hugo Swire have made a very good point on stealth taxation- the whole cost of digital switchover should not be borne by the licence but shared by BBC & ITV/Channel 4/Channel 5 - licence is a flat tax so is regressive. In the end we pay - either in additional costs on goods to cover adverts or in licence fees but its fairer not to use a universal flat tax to pay for it.

As for enforcing additional costs to meet Labour's desire to stregthen its hold on Manchester - why should the UK population have to pay?

The BBC has many faults but the proposal is severely flawed.

My wife went to a W.I. meeting just after the US mid term elections. There was an American woman there who expressed frustration at the election information despite having stayed up all night watching TV. Have you Sky? several women asked. No only BBC says the American. Ah well, apparantly everybody said, that's the problem, you never learn what's going with the BBC - get yourself Sky.

The BBC, as it stands has got to go, it's financial position compared to other chanels is an outrage.

100% right David.

Let's work to make it happen.

The left-wing anti-American - indeed anti-British BBC needs its wings well and truly clipped.

The BBC should not be funded by the taxpayer, as there is no such thing as public service broadcasting anymore. The amount of choice there is on tv means that every audience is catered for, which means there can no longer be a 'unique' public service broadcaster.

This is quite apart from the fact that the cultural view of the BBC is biased to a liberal/left worldview and does not represent the views of large swathes of the electorate. Indeed, whatever it did, it would never be able to because broadcasting relies on viewpoints to be interesting.

By all means, keep the BBC, they have some good programming, but scrap the licence fee. After all, the ad income from Eastenders alone would keep it afloat.

Time for the BBC to be floated off and all of its self-regarding luvvies left to live off their wits without the grotesque Licence Fee subsidy: it'll be slim pickings for most of them. Nice to see Jack Stone taking a peversely wrong view again, or so it seems amidst all of the idiosyncratic spelling and grammar,

It [the BBC] as to firstly concentrate on areas that commercial television i.e., that do not attract ratings and when it does do popular programming it should be making those programmes with an eye on quality rather than ratings.


With a digital cable TV channel costing about £50k to broadcast, we have surely reached the point where no matter how esoteric the programming is, there can be enough demand to make a commercial success of it.

I'm in a sparsely-populated, largely rural part of the American Mid-West, yet there are three cable channels devoted to hunting and fishing on TV.

Surely the affluent arts set can manage to organise some TV if they feel that programming is too pedestrian, without relying on the public to pay for it for them?

I would hope Gildas that now you've been subjected to American TV for a while you would agree that most of it is completely and utterly dreadful and while they may have hundreds of channels there is rarely anything worth watching.
As regards the BBC I am slightly confused by what Swire wants. The BBC is a bloated organisation which is not run efficiently when compared to commercial media outfits (the relocation package for staff moving to Salford is the best by a mile I've ever heard of).The fact that they are being forced to accept increases below inflation may force them to become slightly more efficient.
However much as I dislike their political bias I do find that the BBC take the lions share of both my watching and listening over other broadcasters because for me their programmes are often very good. Certainly I prefer the curent broadcasting model in Britain to that which exists in the USA.

The quote above doesn't really tell me much. I much prefer the editor's quote from from earlier in the day on the frontpage.

The BBC is being asked to fund Government programmes - such as digital switchover - as well as do things the Government wants it to do, like move to Salford, again using the licence fee money

As opposed to doing things the BBC wants to do with the licence fee.............like ALL live in London, pay enormous salaries to overrated public sector employees; talk down to those outside London and sneer at the rest of Britain.

These according to Mr Vaizey are acceptable because the BBC is the only public sector organisation which knows best and just sends the restaurant bill for its fine dining to the kitchen staff

I would hope Gildas that now you've been subjected to American TV for a while you would agree that most of it is completely and utterly dreadful and while they may have hundreds of channels there is rarely anything worth watching.

Sorry to disappoint you, but its about the same (since I had ntl in the UK) and miles better than those awful days when there were only four and then five channels to choose from, and all of them showing nothing but sport.

While I can't compare the soaps and game shows I don't watch here with the soaps and game shows I didn't watch in England, I can assure you that comedy and drama is far better.

And Fox News has become so successful that even the liberals at CNN have had to put a conservative talk radio host on their Headline News channel every night at prime time! Its amazing what not sneering at your audience's values does for your ratings...

But, for political junkies like those who read this website it surely comes down to this simple fact: 3 C-SPAN channels versus 1 BBC Parliament. :)


The best way to destroy the BBC - a wholly creditable objective - is to ignore it. Sites like this one, other media outlets like Sky, the complete paradigm shift that's occurring with the young people and their YouTubes, will continue to drive the state-funded socialist broadcasters into irrelevance. They will pass from Leviathan to timid pussy cat in one generation, and they won't even see it coming: they'll continue to make their faux-sincere grimaces to camera and mouth their "right-thinking" platitudes, but it won't annoy us anymore because so few people will be watching them do it. Look at how "official" celebrities (like dancing/singing "news"readers on the BBC) act with haughty disdain at the democratised modern celebrity: how dare Chantelle be famous for being on Big Brother! That's not a real media celebrity job, like reading out drivel on Breakfast Television! Don't these people know who I am? Err... no, actually, fewer and fewer people do.

Once their audience share shrinks to beneath 10% it will be a trivial act for a government to abolish the licence fee, something that today would be politically impossible (I'm afraid).

This was yesterday's Sun Says column:


THE BBC is desperate to get its grubby hands on public cash.

It believes viewers should pay for them to make programmes no one wants to watch.

For too long they have lived beyond their means at our expense.

BBC bosses think they’ve a God-given right to limitless pots of public money.

Gordon Brown and Tessa Jowell are to be congratulated for teaching them a firm lesson.

Viewers are there to be entertained – not fleeced."


Obviously no conflict of interest in that Sun editorial :-0)

The BBC probably draws its strongest support from large sections of the Conservative Party's core support. "BBC abolitionists" should be careful before they let their personal views get in the way of what is electorally sensible. Then again that wouldn't be the first time...

I currently pay a subscription to Sky for which I get a very good service especially sport.
I also (have) to pay the tax called the licence to which goes BBC for providing programmes most of which have a left wing bias, which I rarely watch apart from daily politics, question time etc. At least Andrew Neil is free of any bias, he just hates politicians.
BBC Scotland is even more left wing biased reminiscent of the old Soviet Pravda. I hate it with a passion and long for the day when its shut down.(or burned down)
My preference would be the freedom and choice to pay for the service I want, rather like paying for the newspaper I want.
I do not pay for the socialst Guardian, Mirror etc so why should I subsidise the Socialist BBC
I am sure that Hugo would understand this conservative principle

Graeme, the sad thing is that if it were not for its relentless left wing bias, the BBC would be rather good.

But this is one leapord that simply can't change its spots, so I agree that it will be a good thing if it slides into irrelevance.

Privatise the BBC! Why not? It'll just about be the only privatisation that i'd agree with! They are so anti-conservative they should have had the book thrown at them from close range ( re- the old election 2005 question time summary on the main news bulletin- Howard booed, Bliar not, although the boos for him were the loudest)! Clipping their wings financially i'm all for- the Jonathan Ross fee a good example for out of control spending. I wholeheartedly agree that Hugo Swire has misjudged.

Reading the many comments above makes it very clear that the Editor's headline ("SWIRE sends wrong message on BBC") was precisely right.
I suppose that Swire occupies a relatively minor position in the scheme of things but I find it depressing that the only comment made by the opposition is so craven, so unoriginal and so suited to the tastes of the luvvy left.

1. Please can we have a definition of 'public service broadcasting'?

Whatever it is, I assume it is, by a long way, a minority of total broadcasting output.
Thus, why not allocate to the 'public broadcaster, the BBC, 1 TV channel and 1 radio station for 'public service output' with a significantly reduced licence fee (as a step towards its being abolished). If more 'public service broadcasting' is required, broadcasters and others can make the case.

2. The change to digital is incurring costs for ALL broadcasters. Some own the transmission network and are investing accordingly (e.g. Sky), others pay through the charges made by the transmission companies.

3. "You're right F and I'll think how news and comment can be more honestly differentiated so that readers always know what they're getting."

However, as with Newspapers whatever the labels say, it's ALL opinion/editorial.

The BBC is bias at times but personally I don`t think anymore than ITN are. Take a look at Channel Four News and your see what bias really is.
The BBC as its faults but I think it needs repairing not destroying as I think we would be very much poorer as a nation without it.

The days of "broad" casting are nearly over. Even the Queen's Speech is going out as a podcast.

"Narrow" casting or webcasting will increasingly become the norm and the BBC could do us all a favour and turn itself into a sort of "super ISP" providing cheap access to fast broadband for everybody. I reckon that would take five years at £2bn a year and be a far better use of the annual TV tax.

Once every home and business in the land is cabled up, the licence fee can be abolished and we can all go onto pay-per-view, with adverts, most programmes will be free, but I for one would happily pay extra for advert free content.

The BBC can then open its massive and hugely valuable archive and probably make more money than it currently extorts from us through the Licence Fee, which can flood back into the Treasury coffers while everybody else can get on and make news, drama, art, sport or whatever programmes they want and compete for our attention.

It would be massively entertainng to see Woss and news team getting paid by results.

Just to illustrate my point, I am posting from the GNER train as it crosses the Tyne.

The BBC is hidebound by its statist structure and culture. It is technological fantastic, but it does not apply that knowledge to solving problems and instead expends it making its own position inalienable.

Can I imagine a wolrd without the BBC? Yes, and it is a better place.

Editor - I agree completely with the earlier remarks about differentiating between opinion and what is becoming really a Tory news column. What you have done is really amazing but to continue the rise and rise of this site I think you would do well to make it journalistic (and therefore without perceived bias) than you currently have.

On another note I disagree with your views on the BBC. I think there are many ways that the BBC could represent a fantastic opportunity for the Conservatives, ideally to propose changes to one of the few constants in the world that would see it become a global bastion for the world in a way that Sky could never do. If we think of what we like about this country, fairness, rule of law etc, then there could be no better medium than our own globally respected medium. It is in short 'soft power'. However there is a whole load of programmes that could be cut which are just as good and sometimes better on other channels. Soaps for example, dramas - give it to the market. Let BBC become the proper 4th Estate for the globe and lets give the world our values.

Long term this probably means trying to have more conservative people working for the BBC, but if Dave continues at mobilising the youth and the ladies (the BBC is and always will be full of female employees) then there is no reason that it cannot be accused of being both left and right in equal (hopefully minimal) measure.

Any attempt to come up with a definition of public service broadcasting, which would be subsidised by the taxpayer, will be impossible without accusations of elitism. All the things we really object to paying through the licence fee poll tax are the things which could exist in a purely commercial service anyway. All the things we think makes the BBC special - and it's only television anyway - are what most people wouldn't pay for. I think it's all crap anyway so not really in a good position to argue, but John Moss is right - why don't they sell off their archives online? They could turn their library into a massively profitable TV version of iTunes. Why can I only listen to R4 dramas one week after broadcast? I pay for them now, I should be able to download them anytime I want. Scrap the licence fee and put the whole lot online. Let commercial people make new stuff - all the creativity happens in the small companies anyway.

Tim's editorial is excellent! I can't help but think that Swire's statement was calculated to win over Beed-loving media types to the Conservative cause. A bad move: when they desert NuLabour, they switch to the Fib Dems and Respect.

but John Moss is right - why don't they sell off their archives online?

They should be transferred to the British Library

Whether it's a real terms cut or not depends on how inflation goes, the BBC I suppose will have rather more of an interest in inflation in the next few years, surely a freeze would have been more appropriate at the very least.

While I agree with nearly all the above criticism of the BBC, it seems a little unfair to label Swire a fellow traveller. Instead of wishing to give comfort to the BBC, he seems to have been trying to do what the Tory front bench are supposed to do - oppose the Government. In this case for a typical failure of 'joined-up government': Tessa and the BBC promise one thing while Gordon proceeds to make it impossible. The DCMS are being treated just as the Home Office and MoD have been, by a man about to be our worst-ever prime minister.

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