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Rant: Another round of Beeb-bashing!

Well, it seems the Tories are having another round of Beeb-bashing... poor old Aunty... they want to make Her stick to "core broadcasting"... haven't managed to find a Tory definition of that phrase yet... but technically, it would be the news and the weather... at the end of the day, everything else is "programming for entertainment"...

They also apparently want to scrap BBC3 and BBC4 that have "low viewing figures"... which happen to be the channels I watch most out of all the BBC ones... ok, partly cos Family Guy and American Dad are on them, but, with BBC3 its for the slightly more 'alt' programming and because it seems to be the place the Beeb use to try out new shows... I seem to remember "Being Human" was a 3 show before it went to the 'normal' BBC... as did Gavin And Stacy (which I seem to remember is one of the most widely acclaimed shows of recent years, with lots of awards)... with BBC4, its nice to have slightly more highbrow programming to counter Eastenders and Big Brother... I rather like documentaries... and not just the sciency ones. Its also nice to have a bit more coverage of the Proms on television.

I'm assuming by "core broadcasting," the Tories don't really mean just-the-news-and-weather, but I do have a horrible feeling that they're definition isn't going to be good... I mean, if they're saying "stick to what BBC1 and BBC2 currently do," then (and I don't mean to sound elitist or snobbish), its gonna be a lot of shit that I won't watch... I mean, I think the only things I watch regularly on BBC1 are New Tricks and Strictly; I might watch the odd documentary or movie, but thats about it... BBC2 I watch a bit more, but still, the programming isn't really to my tastes... and I can't imagine that I'm the only one...

But on the flip side, the last time I remember someone moaning about Aunty's programming, they went through the schedules and scrapped some popular shows like Fame Academy because they were (if I'm remembering this right) "too far removed from the BBC's core values as a public service broadcaster."

So that suggests we'll end up with a programming agenda crafted by a political party... rather than a programming schedule developed by a broadcaster.

The other area they could look at is sport... afterall, the Beeb spent a fortune on getting Formula 1 coverage back, to the detriment of their soccer coverage... and if we go back a few years, there was a spell when England Rugby Union matches were only ever shown on Sky Sports because they bought the television rights (which caused an outcry)... are we going to go back to national team games in popular sports only being available to subscription TV viewers?

I suspect Eastenders, The Sky At Night and (ok, this is radio, but the point stands), The Archers and Test Match Special will be safe... the former because there would be riots in the streets if it were scrapped, and the latter because they've been around forever...

Everything else, well, who knows? It certainly sounds as though "experimental" (ie, giving a show a go because it might work... Monty Python has to be the pinnacle of this... and there's less now than there used to be, but there are still some shows that I'm sure no other broadcaster would ever have commissioned) and "radio-transition" programming making (taking a radio show (often a comedy) and making a television version), which the Beeb is really rather good at (Mitchell and Webb for example started out with a very well-received radio show, but there was no guarantee they could translate their humour to television... it could have been awful) are going to be first to the chopping block.

I can understand some of the things they want to do... afterall, the Director General is on a salary that is pushing on towards a million quid a year (assuming the news sources have their figures right)... but I suspect you won't get anyone to do the (thankless and rather fragile) job for the 192,000(approx) that they want to cap salaries at... afterall, you are the first person expected to resign as soon as something goes to pot... the D-G doesn't really have any job security, and it can't be the easiest thing to get a new job after gross public humiliation across the media...

But the idea of dictating the Beeb's programming output just seems ridiculous to me... and even more so when you consider the License Fee issue... the License Fee's future is really uncertain (actually, I suspect its so uncertain that it is certain... iyswim... I don't see it the Charter being extended in the modern broadcasting world).... but if the Beeb is ever going to be able to exist without the TV License, then it has to be able to make and market programs it considers will make money... and the Beeb will never be allowed to simply do pure comercially-oriented "popularist programming," like, say Sky... its "oddities" are far too tightly ingrained in peoples lives (hearts?)... most people have a quirky show or 3 that the Beeb created and that they love, but that didn't really worry the ratings... and that's without remembering that it is a public sector entity that politicians love to mess with...!

I don't think all that many people in Britain would like to see the BBC disappear along with the License Fee.

Strangely, I can't find the story on the BBC News website... anyway, its on yahoo, but apparently did originate in the Daily Mail, so it may not really be news! ;)