Monday, 5 October 2009

Bloated, Biased and Confused?

Admit it, you owned one
Whither the BBC? Stick ten Brits in a room and ask them what still makes Britain great, and they will overwhelmingly answer - the BBC! At least that's what the papers will tell you. Don't believe a word of it. I've actually tried this and I got some interesting answers; including 'gardening', 'fair play' and 'table manners'. No-one said 'the BBC'. Mind you I admit I may not have got their full attention, but that's what you get when you phone people up during EastEnders.

Where was I? Oh yes - Auntie. British Telly Is The Best In The World, as we all know. The only reason it's stuffed full of American sitcoms, science-fiction repeats and soaps, is that we need to encourage the Yanks in their early efforts, and besides, the programs are quite cheap. Cheap is important; it's common knowledge that the Beeb represents tremendous value for money, and always has done.

But value for money is getting surprisingly expensive. In 1996 a TV licence cost £86.50. Today it costs £142.50, up by a mere 65%. Don't complain; we now have a plethora of new channels. We have BBC3 featuring classic programs like F*** Off I'm Fat. We have more saccharin-rich children's channels and programs than you ever thought you would need, or could stomach. And we have ever-more exotic sports coverage. Who needs football when darts is so riveting?

It's not just TV either. No exploration of the BBC would be complete without reference to the radio output, which is terrific, particularly if, at a key point during an Ashes Test Match, you want to know the weather conditions in German Bight (where is that anyway?). And those Archers are as fresh as ever. Despite the theme tune. But the list doesn't end there. What about the enormous web-site, interactive TV, programs in Welsh, the BBC Micro?

Of course, an organisation that generates content free of dirty commercial interests is a noble thing. The tasty £719.6M that the BBC made last year from its commercial arm doesn't count, because it's mostly sales to Johnny Foreigner, so it's definitely still true that there is no commercial bias or pressure within our precious Beeb. So if you elect not to have a TV, you should just put up with the endless threatening letters1, outsourced to Capita, who are a private company; they don't have to be nice. Cough up. We know where you live.

1 - click this if nothing else - it's eye-popping


  1. I would regard the BBC as the media arm of a political party, rather than anything else. That puts the funding debate in a different perspective!

  2. Ah - but which party?

  3. Yes I did have a TOTP LP in the 70s - definitely only one though (I think/hope my brother bought it). It was insanely awful. I remember we got it despite knowing this would be the case (why do we still go ahead with such things even when we know what the outcome will be?) and yes we did used to laugh at anyone who had one....
    The BBC? MOTD & 10pm News and that's about it so could easily cope without it. The only real differentiating factor: no ads - but with Sky+ that can be managed. R4 is a must though.

  4. Leave BBC Radio alone, 4 is Fab.

    Why is the BBC pro Isreali now, have they got in there as well?

  5. I can proudly say I never owned a TOTP LP. Did spend lots of time in Woolworths looking at the covers though!

  6. where else can you watch an entire episode of Star Trek in just 50 minutes - and not have commiserate with an old couple suffering from wind, a nice looking lady who wants to tell you about her "vaginal yeast infection" or a bunch of "ladies at lunch" who all are, or have, suffered from chronic diarrhoea. I mean, I'm here to see Jean-Luc Picard! Commercial TV maybe appear to be 'free'- but boy is it taxing on my "joi de vie"!

  7. So that's why all my woolies TOTP albums have funny stains on them.