The BBC is totally unaccountable – scrap the Licence Fee?

An iconic British image – BBC Test Card F as used on television in the United Kingdom and in countries elsewhere in the world for more than four decades

The BBC is an organisation that like the EU is totally unaccountable to those that fund it, as there is no real mechanism for consumers to hold the BBC to account, and it similarly squanders its massive unearned-income budget with irresponsible and thoughtless expenditure with a spendthrift attitude that permeates throughout the organisation. Funding is wasted like water from a tap with an endless ‘meter-less’ supply with a zero analysis or concern for ‘cost benefit’. Large volumes of cash have been wasted by its bureaucrats who suffer no consequences for the reckless spending.

That is not to say that the BBC has too big an income in an age when delivery of quality TV programmes indeed involves big bucks – it does though have the second largest budget of any UK-based broadcaster. However, there is now much deep public dissatisfaction with both its current funding arrangement through tax, and moreover with its current lacklustre performance and poor value output – the days when it was a beacon of excellence for other broadcasters around the world, plus provider of bespoke quality, and when it generated truly iconic programmes are long gone – that has all been replaced by a 24/7 menu of predominately meaningless dross, don’t you think?

[The BBC had an operating expenditure of £4.722 billion in 2013/14 compared with £6.471 billion for British Sky Broadcasting in 2013/14 and just £1.843 billion for ITV in the calendar year 2013]

The availability of talent to the BBC has been decimated by other alternative employers so it is now unfeasible for the Corporation to continuously transmit decent programmes 24hrs a day. Return of the Test Card, previously shown while no programmes are being broadcast would be a welcome relief, to those of us that grew to enjoy the BBC transmissions of past decades, don’t you think?

The licence fee has been an increasing bone of contention as many viewers these days don’t bother with terrestrial TV at all, or have other alternative ‘paid-for’ service providers, or even they stream television to computers, tablets, or mobiles for free – so they don’t really see why they should have to pay ‘a tax’ to contribute to BBC channels and services they don’t necessarily use nor like. Moreover, apart from the fee paid not being related whatsoever to how much of BBC services are used by a property, it is clearly discriminatory against the poor, the old, and those isolated and reliant on television for company, because the cost is not related to household income, is it?

The utter unfairness and madness of it all though, is amply demonstrated by the fact that the BBC provides a substantial national and local Radio service, and certainly some of it is excellent with many very satisfied listeners, but the listeners don’t have to pay a penny for those expensive services at all, because these days radio users don’t require ANY licence whatsoever – television owners have to stump-up the major cost which is some fifteen percent of the total BBC budget of £5 billion

The BBC have just announced that it is to lavish another £100 million on advertising to try to attract younger listeners to its radio channels, and into the bargain the BBC is promoting an App for a radio FREE audio-book service [while Amazon provide an audiobook facility at £8 a month!] – ALL such radio, irrespective of unaffordable cost, is paid for from the TV licence fee of course!

Most galling of all and inexplicably to boot, radio presenters seem to be amongst the BBC’s highest paid elite when there can only be scant competition elsewhere for their skills and services, surely?

[Presenters solely on radio earning £1.7 million, £410 thousand, £560 thousand, £420 thousand, £410 thousand, £410 thousand, £359 thousand, £340 thousand, £340 thousand, £310 thousand, and others who have also been pulling in £300 thousand or so. HOW CAN THAT BE JUSTIFIED?

(The UKs Prime Minister’s salary is just some £150 thousand, and the average salary of UK FULL TIME workers is only £35thousand)]

That of course is the just tip of the iceberg as most BBC spending is just day-to-day ‘current’ spending, reflecting astronomical staff and procurement costs, with virtually NO investment nor capital spending.

Part of the reason is that the BBC pays both TV and Radio presenters staggeringly scandalous amounts – and those are only the ones we know about as it won’t disclose information about TWO THIRDS of its BIGGEST earners who scandalously are paid “off the books” so to speak, through personal service companies, or payments made through BBC Studios [£74million in payments dished out over 4 years, where payment via a company allows the BBC to ‘avoid’ national insurance while the performer ‘avoids’ income tax at source of up to 45% and instead pays corporate tax of just 19%]

[£1.75 million paid to a football presenter supported by analysts themselves on £420 thousand (covering matches already played!), £610 thousand to a radio presenter and TV chat show host, £530 thousand to a TV newsreader and elections presenter, £450 thousand to a radio and TV presenter, £410 thousand to a radio presenter with some TV work, £410 thousand to a TV presenter, £380 thousand to a radio presenter and TV host, and many others on TV and Radio who have also been pulling in £300 thousand or so

The BBC Director General not only ALREADY draws BBC pension but ALSO gets a BBC salary AS WELL – so is on £530 thousand].

Moreover, increasing numbers of people are dissatisfied with the BBC’s somewhat staid and slanted service output, which is targeted at quite a restricted audience, and some would say that for a supposedly ‘neutral’ public service broadcaster [an utter pretence of impartiality of course], that at times it lacks objectivity and it stands accused of bias in its approach to controversial topics [and that would specifically include BREXIT where it unfairly has clearly been supportive of the establishment’s and Cameron government’s original Remain line – it continues to paddle an anti-BREXIT canoe].

Also, these days one can find much better programmes elsewhere, and often its output lacks quality of thought and professionalism [exampled by the insensitive format, the extraordinary debate bias, and the series of appalling blunders the BBC exhibited in its chaotic ‘gate-crash’ Tory leadership broadcast in mid-July (scheduled after 90% members had already voted as it was just 6 days before voting closed) is a glaring case in point], while in general its output descends to the lowest common denominator in its apparent quest to match the garbage of the worst commercial channels.

Inexplicably the BBC seems to believe that its viewers (predominately intelligent, discerning people], want a never-ending programme regime of cookery & food, house hunting & relocation, bric-à-brac & antique sales, outdated & irrelevant chat shows, incomprehensible & meaningless game shows, medical dramas & old soaps seemingly used solely to promote relationship & diversity issues, repeats & re-runs of past quality items galore, low-interest sports events & with just post-time reviews of major sport goings-on, etc, eh? It is difficult to think of any current BBC programme that would be described as ‘unmissable’ or memorable – has all the good talent gone to Netflix, eh? [One of the few remaining BBC successes is its natural history series]

The bottom line is that it is now time to scrap the criminal law enforced Licence Fee funding for the BBC, as there is no longer any justification for an unscrutinised universal public service broadcaster in the UK, proving diverse free services funded by a TV tax.

The BBC claims that the licence fee is the ‘cheapest’ way of providing ‘existing’ BBC services – and that may be ‘right’ but it is certainly NOT the fairest’ way and certainly doesn’t mean that the Corporation shouldn’t ‘cutback’ on the services it provides, eh?

The BBC needs to move to directly fund its output from those viewers who are prepared to pay for it – if it is delivering the ‘quality output’ and ‘great programmes’ that it regularly (falsely?) claims then it will thrive, when then operating on a level playing field with the likes of Netflix and Sky – it will be able within its means to spend its income on expensive over-rated staff, be as biased as it likes, all with no questions asked by the tax-payer, eh?

The BBC can and must progressively move to a subscription service for Radio1, Radio2, Radio3, Radio4, Radio Five live, Radio London, audio-books, TV, HD services, BBC Red button services, TV streaming, news, current affairs and documentary programmes, soaps, drama, iPlayer, children services, etc.

The licence fee should be progressively phased out over a few years to give the BBC time to reorganise its funding arrangements on a normal commercial and business basis to compete with other providers – then we will see if it can really pull-in the many millions of pounds needed to support its loaded staff and presenters. If the government NEEDS a future and limited [TV and radio single channels] state public service broadcaster to peddle its messages or to meet perceived social needs, then it needs to fund it from general taxation.

 

[When the BBC has to control its own income opportunities Britain might see a resurrection of the long-lost creativity and control of costs that is badly needed from the organisation]

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