Friday, January 24, 2020
Home BBC Watch Taking an axe to the BBC (and Channel 4) – Part 2

Taking an axe to the BBC (and Channel 4) – Part 2

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YESTERDAY I wrote about disbanding the BBC. This, I think, is the best course of action for a Conservative government, but it’s extremely unlikely that a Johnson government would take it. There are other problems with it, such as likely court action in a hostile anti-Conservative legal environment, and an Establishment/chattering class backlash.

So is the only alternative to take away the licence fee and force the BBC to become a subscription service? No. There is another option. (In fact, there’s also the option of do nothing, which is probably what the Conservatives will do. But let’s not just close our eyes and hope for the best.)

This option is to keep the BBC with the licence fee in place, but radically reshape it. (As for Channel 4, also funded by the taxpayer, you can either reshape it as well, or just axe it.) First of all, sack the BBC Board, including the Director-General. Sack all the division heads. Replace them with people who aren’t biased, although many won’t need replacing. (Personally I’d do this straight away. But if you want, you could have an inquiry into BBC bias, but that could work only if it weren’t run by people who are equally biased, and run by people who aren’t going to fold under pressure.)

Then dramatically cut down the rest of it. Cut the TV back to one channel, which will contain a mix of cheap light entertainment, quality non-woke drama but on a budget (theatre-based if necessary), and science and educational programmes. All sport is to be left to the commercial channels. No summer rock music festival coverage. No soaps. No celebrity-based reality shows. No charity tie-ins. A small number of kids’ shows, but no more bland anodyne rubbish that is designed to offend no one, and which kids find boring. No more expensive co-productions with other channels. In fact, no more co-productions full stop. No expensive talk show hosts. No news shows – It’s not appropriate that a state-funded broadcaster should do news. Or current affairs either, which means Newsnight will be axed, which it needs to be anyway as its audiences are always taken over by Labour activists pretending to be ordinary people.

Most of the BBC radio stations should be closed, including the regional stations, and especially Radio 1 and Radio 2: commercial pop music doesn’t need the help. Possibly keep Radio 3. Radio 4 I’m not entirely sure about, in its current format it’s a cancer on society so I’d love to see it gone, but perhaps there is a place for a revamped Radio 4. But I suspect that even a revamped Radio 4 will eventually turn Leftist again, so getting rid of it is probably the best option. Ideally, just get rid of BBC Radio altogether.

The BBC website needs to be nuked; the BBC never had a mandate to expand to the internet. It should show TV listings and not much more. Maybe a few public service listings such as election results (presented without punditry). No news. No sports results: that is for the commercial sector. The recipe section, which is good, should be sold off.

All BBC shows should become public domain after, say, ten years. Perhaps some of the performers and writers of shows that have already been made need to be given a payment to compensate them for lost royalties, but for all new shows it needs to be made clear that performance royalties are time-limited.

The licence fee should be reduced to about £20-25, which would  reduce the BBC’s income to about half a billion, still a shedload of money. No more licence fee inspectors stalking the land and harassing people. If there is mass refusal to pay it from some sections of society, then the BBC will just have to cut down. There is no need for the BBC to broadcast overnight, or even all the way through the day. In the internet age there is no shortage of things to watch 24/7, so the BBC is not required to be on all the time.

The main advantage of this approach compared with making the BBC a subscription service is that you neutralise the BBC as a malign propaganda source, whereas the other approach might turbo-charge it. There is, of course, the risk that a future Labour government, or a Labour government in coalition with other parties, will seek to restore it to its former glories. That won’t be as easy as you might think if there has been five or ten years of the BBC being much less prominent in people’s lives. By then people will have moved further away from traditional television channels, and millions won’t be happy about having to fork out an extra £100 a year to bring back the past, especially a politicised past.

There will still probably be legal action over downsizing the BBC, of course, but changing the BBC is less legally risky than vaporising it, so it is a good option. But would a Johnson government even have the courage to do this? If they don’t, they’re letting an enemy who is no longer even pretending to follow the rules, and is undermining the Conservative Party at every turn, continue on a path which is going to see the Tories get more and more flak from the media culture. They should at least start with doing something about the open goal that is Channel 4, and see how that goes.

Donald Trump understands well that the liberal media are not just irritants in political life or mild spinners, but major players and major enemies of conservatism. As such, they need to be treated like enemies, not indulged and allowed to continue unchecked, taking ever more liberties with truth and rationality, while our countries crumble. Allowing things to go on as they are could spell the end of conservatism.

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Hector Drummond
Hector Drummond is a former university lecturer turned author. His first novel, The Biscuit Factory Vol. I: Days of Wine and Cheese, a campus satire, is out now</a<. He blogs at hectordrummond.com, and tweets at @hector_drummond

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