Friday, October 07, 2011

So, what is the BBC actually for?

The BBC in the late sixties created a second TV channel, BBC2 and it gave the responsibility for that channel to David Attenborough. Under his leadership the BBC created programmes like Civilisation, The Ascent of Man and Monty Python's Flying Circus. The channel did not broadcast all day, and when it did not, it showed the test card (see above). There were two TV channels and eventually four radio channels. Attenborough was not only a talented broadcaster himself, he was an inspiring leader in television innovation. 

Now, decades later, the BBC has a huge number of TV channels and even more radio channels, plus a vast website and a plethora of broadcast formats, from HD to DAB.

Why is that?

Doubtless some BBC mogul would say that the Corporation was "responding to the needs of its customer base", "Reflecting the diversity of Modern Britain" or some other horseshit. Actually the Corporation has become a massive boondoggle at the expense of the British taxpayer and license payer. Every news story, from an earthquake, to the death of Steve Jobs (shock report: Steve Jobs still dead) to, God help us, the Oscars, requires tens or even hundreds of staff to travel round the world, premium class, to give the waiting world the details. 

The latest nonsense of shifting large parts of the corporation to Manchester, Salford and (despite denials for the past decade) to close the BBC TV Centre, reflects an organisation that long ago lost touch with what it was supposed to be doing.

This is a metastasized bureaucracy that can not deliver even what it was successfully doing forty years ago. Now we are supposed to feel a certain sympathy because the BBC needs to impose "cuts". Of course those cuts will not be to the bloated salaries and insane costs that the Corporation has racked up over the decades. In the same way that the Navy now has many more Admirals than it has ships, so the BBC no longer cares about programmes, and indeed these will be the first thing that get the chop. 

The time has come to sell or close much of the BBC and to slim it and its cost base back to a sensible level. Indeed, given that the private sector is now eating the BBCs lunch in terms of quality of programmes, including news programmes, I am tempted to ask, whether we even need the Corporation at all.

Of course nostalgia for the time of David Attenborough, when the BBC genuinely created programmes that "Inform, educate and entertain" will keep the larded expenses of the bureaucrats in business for a while yet, but like footballers or bankers it is hard to care any more.


Bolivia Newton-John said...

I certainly agree that the BBC has over-reached itself and there is a LOT that should be cut, I take issue with the following:

"Indeed, given that the private sector is now eating the BBCs lunch in terms of quality of programmes, including news programmes, I am tempted to ask, whether we even need the Corporation at all."

Which private sector provider comes close to the BBC in terms of quality of news programmes?! ITN? Sky News? The BBC's news coverage is getting worse because it is becoming more like such news sources, most of which are execrable. Exceptions exist, such as Al Jazeera and The Economist, but these are not the sources the BBC is competing with (though they should be).

The huge sums spent on blanket coverage of every news story are excessive, and you are surely right regarding the teams of people they send expensively around the world, but complete abolition of BBC News would only hasten the race to the bottom in media standards.

Newmania said...

Agree with that from start to finish. The BBC`s role must surely be to supply those things the market will not.
How this includes celebrity dancing competitions ,pop music radio, on line news and much more is a mystery.