A little off the top

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 by

The BBC are getting defensive over plans to top slice the licence fee, but do their arguments hold water? As a natural supporter of the Beeb, I – like them – tend to get rather protective over any plans to mess around with Auntie. However, is it just me or has the Corporation’s counter arguments to the Government’s plans come across as ill-focused and rather weak? So far, the main protestation seems to be that to hand over some cash to fund ITV’s local news broadcasting would be the first step on a rocky road. But a rocky road to where? It’s not that I necessarily disagree with this view, it’s just that it sounds all too vague to be considered a serious defence of the licence fee.

Mind you, Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has described the Beeb’s position as “wrong-headed” which is an equally weak rebuttal . And anyway, where did that stupid expression come from? I have heard “wrong-headed” floating around in business speak for a year or so now – is it really necessary to invent such a silly sounding term? Grrr


5 Responses to “A little off the top”

  1. Mark H Wilkinson on July 14th, 2009 2:40 pm

    And anyway, where did that stupid expression come from?

    The 18th century.

  2. Jack Kibble-White on July 14th, 2009 2:41 pm

    Well I still think it’s stupid.

  3. Graham Kibble-White on July 14th, 2009 3:10 pm

    “…very little of my online output is written in the spirit of anger. That doesn’t preclude people from reading tone that isn’t there (one of the perils of communicating in ASCII) but it’s something a user might find worth keeping in mind when interacting with me — I may be being firm at the time, but it doesn’t mean I’m shouting at you.” – Mark H Wilkinson’s Wikipedia profile page.

  4. Murray C Park on July 15th, 2009 12:47 am

    I’m with the BBC on this one. The government may swear blind that they only want a couple of percent for the ITV News and they may even mean it, but once the principal is established that the license fee can be spent on things other than the BBC then successive governments will no doubt find excuses to dip into it for all sorts of other things that have previously been government funded or subsidised – theatre, ballet, opera, art galleries, museums, Offcom, Diamond Jubilee celebrations, something toward the Olympics, etc, etc, etc.

    At the moment the BBC just has to argue the size of the license fee increase every few years and the government will normally find it tough to stray too far from inflation plus or minus a few percent. It seems entirely possible to me that the object of this top-slicing exercise is to get to a position where the BBC has to bid for a share of the license fee each year or every few years, which would then give the politicians much greater control over the BBC than they’ve had for decades.

  5. Glenn Aylett on July 27th, 2009 7:42 pm

    It should never have come to do this. Channel 4 in particular went so far down the populist route with rubbish like Hollyoaks, which makes Neighbours look like Shakespeare, and Big Borether that they seemed to lose sight of what the station was set up to be: a commercial version of BBC 2. OK I don’t expect them to show four hours of experimental jazz every night, but nor do I expect Channel 4 to be like a more teen oriented ITV1. If they are asking for a slice of the BBC licence fee, it is their own fault for watering down their public service and minorities remit so much. Also, how popular are their populist programmes now: Big Brother struggles to attract 2 million viewers( down from a peak of 7 million) and Hollyoaks attracts fewer viewers at times than Neighbours on Channel 5.