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ORAC 12th May 2015 08:47

BBC Licence Fee
Charter renewal discussions start later this year, and Cameron has just appointed a sceptic as Culture Minister. With the partiality noted during the election campaign, don't expect any favours.


Which way should it go? Here's a free market point of view...

Institute of Economic Affairs: Why the licence fee isn’t the best way to fund the BBC

Capot 12th May 2015 09:36

I neither know nor care about whether the BBC has a Left-wing, Right-wing or neutral agenda, although its retweet seems a particularly stupid one to make if it wants to survive in its present form.

I do care that the BBC provides all the evidence we need that if you give an organisation shedloads of money, acquired by forcing citizens to pay it under threat of imprisonment, it will spend most of that money on itself and its staff without any reference whatsoever to value for money.

As part of that process it will acquire a bloated, unnecessary and ineffectual management structure, creating more and more non-jobs with absurd titles, and its senior managers and Directors will decide to pay themselves extravagant sums of money because no-one has the power to stop them doing that.

I could go on, but you get the point. The root of all this is the licence fee and the "guaranteed" income the BBC gets as a result.

Any competent administrator could cut the BBCs running costs by 60% overnight (OK, within 12 months) although there would be a one-off huge capital cost IF the contracts so very carefully drafted by the management for their pay-offs when the gravy train hits the buffers are honoured. They should not be; an Act is required that they are dishonoured in favour of a reasonable payment to each person shown the door.

Other areas of extravagance to be slashed would be the expenses culture of the BBC, the way that vast armies of reporters, support staff and managers are sent to cover single events (eg Olympics), and their property portfolio which must be among the most inefficient in the world in terms of its costs and utility.

But the absolute essential is to scrap the licence fee, NOW, and make the BBC compete properly. A payment from taxation for running one or two public service channels and a radio World Service, OK, but no more. When that is done all the rest of the reforms will follow, out of sheer necessity.

Discorde 12th May 2015 10:22

The BBC is certainly not without its faults. But it has one HUGE beneficial attribute - NO ADVERTS!

Perhaps one solution would be a voluntary subscription service for those willing to pay a fee for advert-free TV and radio programmes.

ZeBedie 12th May 2015 10:41

The BBC is full of adverts for itself.

Impress to inflate 12th May 2015 10:58

As a Brit living overseas, I REALLY miss the Beeb. Quality news, drama's, documentary's as well as a large range of radio services.

If I could get the Beeb overseas and pay the licence fee, I would, gladly !

It's not until you have lived overseas and watched sh!te TV do you really know how good the BBC is, trust me


etimegev 12th May 2015 11:28

The trouble with being overseas is that, mostly, you only get to see the best that British TV has to offer. On a day to day basis there is as much, if not more, mindless crap as your own country's offerings. I know - I recently was able to do a direct comparison between Oz and Brit TV.

hiflymk3 12th May 2015 11:45

You only have to watch the BBC comedy W1A to get an insight to the workings of the Beeb. Some BBC employees claim it is very close to the truth.

tom775257 12th May 2015 11:57

Impress to inflate:

Get someone to buy you a Sky Now box in the uk (Cost me 10 quid I think). No enforced subscription.

Buy an overplay Smart DNS subscription. Change the DNS server in your router to the smart DNS address they give you.

You now have BBC, ITV, Channel 4 on demand abroad. Whilst you can't watch live BBC you can watch each program after it has finished.

Ancient Observer 12th May 2015 12:02

I think Capot has it.

A 60% reduction in costs in one year. Quite easy.

I would get Bain & Co in, (only non-Brits on the team) to run Zero-based budget (ZBB) exercise. I would pay 3G Capital, of Rio, to manage the ZBB, a 15% fee for all savings delivered after an 18 month project.

Then, close their internet presence completely, close all local tv and local radio, close all tv other than BBC 1, 2, and 4. Close ALL radio. Every bit of it.

That takes out another 60% of costs.


bkm 12th May 2015 12:43

I think Ancient Observer point about local output has merit.

Who give a s*t if someone in Norfolk or Cumbria want to have news and information about their local community. They're north of the M25, I don't care.

And as for the BBC's temerity in having Welsh & Scots language channels. I'm appalled.

Then don't get me started on the numpties who commision complete rubbish like Wolf Hall, or the History of Britain by Simon Scharma and as for Horizon and all the damn Attenborough wildlife rubbish. Speechless!

Slow TV, who had that idea? The thought that people might find it interesting to listen to the sound of birdsong, uninterupted by voice and music, watch craftsmen building objects of beauty or idle away a pleasant hour or two in the company of a narrow boat. Astonishing.

An as for radio. Good grief. Who wants to listen to classical music, or voice only radio. Having channels dedicated to music targeted to a younger audience, or channels where one can listen to classic radio comedy from years gone by. Outrageous. Whats wrong with commercial radio, more double glazing and PPI ads is want this country needs.

And they want 39p a day for this!

Thank god the Tories got in and can cozy up to Murdoch as a thank you for the smooth ride they got in his press.

Fox3WheresMyBanana 12th May 2015 12:53

I think the point is that everything you list could be had for 9p a day, and maybe the other 30p could be spent on more regionally-produced excellence rather than salaries and nice lunches for Executive Co-Directors of Diversity and Empowerment who have never been North of Watford (not that they've ever been to Watford, either).

bkm 12th May 2015 13:21


Your point is well made.

There is undoubted waste at the BBC. I have no idea what the proportion of waste is but a bit a culling would not go astray.

However, I'm not convinced that there is an overt left wing agenda at the BBC but the industry as a whole may attract left wing types.

I am concerned that the Tories may use a perceived left wing bias to attack the licence fee. I worry that they will use the 'waste' argument in an attempt to neuter the BBC's independence.

Fox3WheresMyBanana 12th May 2015 13:27

I agree with both your concerns, but you can drop the "perceived". The BBC bias during the election campaign was blatant and across all platforms. This had to come from the top, not that too many below were unhappy about it. They are the architects of their own demise.

Andy_S 12th May 2015 14:09

Originally Posted by bkm (Post 8974178)
And they want 39p a day for this!

I realised, well before I got to this point, that you were being ironic....

Supporters of the BBC tend to fall back on the technique of breaking the licence fee down into a cost per person per day as if that somehow makes it fantastic value. Well, on that basis I'm paying about 1.70 per day for all my gas and electricity requirements - less than some people spend on cigarettes. Wouldn't you agree that's entirely reasonable? Or would you take the view that if utilities could be supplied for less than they ought to be? Otherwise someones profiteering.

On the whole, I like the BBC's output, and I wouldn't want to lose it. But I do think they could deliver the same programming for less. There's lots and lots of anecdotal evidence of wastage, some of which has already been mentioned. The bumper pay and perks at the higher echelons. The generous no questions asked pay off's. The bloated management. The vaguely defined sort-of-jobs. The expenses. The grandiose ambitions. I could go on..... The reality is that the BBC is well funded, quite possibly too well funded. So what if its only 39p per day? If they can do it for 30p per day then why don't they?

Ancient Observer 12th May 2015 14:10


I remember being told off once, at a soccer game, for being sarcastic. The man concerned had 2 children with him, and he didn't want his children to hear sarcasm. A few thousand people chanting the "F" word rather a lot must have been OK. He didn't like sarcasm, though.

The core of my point is to employ 3G capital, and someone like Bain to really deliver change - to take out the waste. To make the luvvies face to-day's world. A full ZBB exercise carried out by non-Brits would save over 50% of costs.

Then cut the excess programming stuff. Who voted for such a huge empire? No-one.

Loose rivets 12th May 2015 14:27

Bloody BBC!

Now I'm old I don't have to pay, but I looooong for the adverts to come. But they don't.

Don't they know I'm busting for a pee? Don't they know people of my age put things under the grill and forget them? Advert=what's on fire? Go check. Do they think we like peas and carrots that have been boiled over onto the floor? I neeeeeed adverts. Bloody contiguousnesnes.

joy ride 12th May 2015 14:36

I LIKE the BBC, plenty of quality broadcasting without ads; yes they do have too many trailers for their own programmes, and yes their management could be slimmed, but then so could management in just about EVERY British company and organisation.

I dislike and distrust everyone who tries to meddle with the BBC even more than I dislike its many faults.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone, and it may soon be.

Tonight they are showing a programme about Eric "Winkle" Brown at 10 pm. That alone is worth the licence fee, as is QI and Family Guy!

Loose rivets 12th May 2015 14:57

A pal of mine did a lot of filming of Winkle. I'm not sure if it was for this production or not. There's a story or two missing from his extraordinary life - perhaps we'll get to see them at some time.

I'm not allowed to look at the backups.

It's an extraordinary thing about humans. Some humans. Every so often one is born with an ability to "just be able to do it", whatever that "it" is.

teeteringhead 12th May 2015 15:27

The BBC is certainly not without its faults. But it has one HUGE beneficial attribute - NO ADVERTS!

Watch the commercial ones on CatchUp - no adverts!!

Also makes you realise the one hour prog is really only about 42 minutes..... :eek:

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