I listened with interest to the latest news describing the payoffs to senior executives, dysfunctional behaviour and cronyism at the BBC. In any other organisation as the share price tumbled, heads would be rolling. The BBC though meanders along in the knowledge that the licence fee will continue to be paid.
These recent revelations are but one symptom of an underlying disease at the BBC. The BBC has become progressively less objective in its news and current affairs. In the good old days news was reported without opinion by well-dressed authoritative newsreaders. The viewer was then at liberty to decide how to interpret this news. Other news/affairs documentaries e.g. Panorama, provided the analysis. The good thing was that it was clear as to what type of news programme you were watching. Today, all news is provided with heaps of analysis and interpretation. I dread the words “now over to our political correspondent”; standby for a barrow load of journalistic bias. There is an army of these correspondents scattered to every corner of the globe. Why? Surely, by sharing with other broadcasters there must by synergies be savings. How many of these BBC current affairs programmes are there? Daily Politics, Panorama, Andrew Marr, Sunday Politics, Newsnight, This Week, Question Time and 24 Hour news. Do we really need all of this?
The 24 Hour news culture has adopted a spin machine as sophisticated as that operated by the previous Labour Government. The papers are reviewed every night by Guardian journalists or other familiar left wing faces. Has the BBC a pact with the Guardian? Are we not all sick of the sight of Polly Toynbee? It is actually possible to say to yourself what she is going to say before her mouth opens.
On the Daily Politics (Monday 16 Dec 13), all 3 main guests were Labour spouting their socialist creed. Where is the balance? No rebuttals were available or provided. The BBC will say that opportunities for other views will be covered in future programmes. Sometimes this is true, but the overwhelming feeling is of a left leaning bias in quantitative and qualitative terms. This left wing/liberal propaganda is insidious.
The death of Nelson Mandela perhaps gave us a window into the BBC’s soul. On the night of his death, BBC1, BBC2 and the 24 Hour News channel simultaneously ran documentaries about Mandela. This is the sort of behaviour that is reminiscent of Soviet Russia. You will watch this programme about the life of our beloved leader whether you like it or not! The BBC demonstrated a lack of judgement and was too partial in its coverage of Nelson Mandela. Objectivity was lost in both the amount and the content of the coverage. ITV News and in particular ITV’s local news has kept objectivity and a lightness of touch. Good news is celebrated. Too often the BBC’s tone is didactic and cynical.
On the positive side, the BBC does excellent work in the areas of the arts, sciences and drama. However, the output of these more expensive areas has seemingly decreased over recent years. ITV, Sky and Freeview channels are now providing programmes that match and in some cases better the BBC’s output. The BBC’s sports coverage is now very limited. Not much football and no cricket. England Rugby? Forget it. You will need to pay Sky/BT for that. Oh! Plenty of programmes talking about sport though.
Technology has moved on a pace. You can watch on your PC, tablet and other devices. Why pay a licence fee?
The BBC is asking the public what we think of the organisation/Trust. The sheer size of the document is daunting. More annoyingly, it demands to know your ethnic background, orientation, age and other personal information. This information is only relevant to an organisation determined to praise its own view of the world and to censor any negative input. I do not have any faith in at all. You only have to watch “Points of View” to see how the BBC manages to rubbish any criticism.
It will be interesting to see the BBC’s response to the findings of the Jimmy Savile inquiry. This is a further litmus test.
The man at the head of the Trust, Lord Patten is a well-known Europhile. Like previous “political” appointees he has not yet been held to account for the management and culture at the BBC. If objectivity is to return at the BBC then the “heads” need to be apolitical and ruthless in their monitoring of output.
This is not a cry for preferential treatment. It is a demand for balance and value for money. The licence fee payer has every right to expect this. The first simple steps would be for the BBC to reduce its overblown news and current affairs coverage. A change in the governance would also be welcome. The reductions and savings made might then pay for programmes to delight and educate. Such minor changes may be obvious and short term fixes, but with the number of issues, the BBC is surely ripe for a root and branch reform.