Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can the Licence Fee last?

It isn't about Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand. I've always found their clever dick humour not to my taste, but I know that others enjoy listening to them. Its individual taste. And in general, we know what they are like. We don't have to listen to them - and I don't. But what they demonstrated to all of us last week is that they are two rather unpleasant individuals. No, the issue is the BBC, this great monolith which survives on huge sums of money, extracted from the people of Britain by what amounts to force.

Personally, I think it's missing the point to demand that these two 'performers' be dismissed - though I suspect that many of the people who they made laugh in the past, will not find them so funny in the future. Many people may express their opinion via the on/off switch. How depressing it will be if it transpires that people don't. No, sacking them would be a diversionary tactic - taking our attention away from the real issue. It was the inherent culture that allowed this pre-recorded material to be approved for broadcast.

Tonight, at long last, there has been a reaction from the Chairman of the BBC. I suppose he's realised that the country is up in arms. Panic stations - better press the damage limitation button. Now, who is to be the scapegoat this time. The Chairman should have known is was unacceptable, even if there hadn't been a single letter of complaint. He and his entire Board should have known that this was revolting behaviour. There should have been no need for politicians to speak out on this, because the BBC should have taken immediate action itself. Can't these people self-regulate at all? The truth is, they didn't see anything wrong with it - until the balloon went up. I was horrified by the sneering tone on Drive on 5 Live, several days later, when the offensive material was broadcast again. They just didn't get it. If the BBC doesn't get it soon, the licence fee will be abolished - or given to another body which will take its responsibility more seriously. Please BBC, get a grip before its too late.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Kind of funny that the BBC is in hot soup back home in blighty when I've just been invited to attend (as a member of the audience) by the BBC's Question Time production team this Thursday in DC, Washington. And guess what, I am about to turn down the invitation for lack of parking - I wonder if they realize that getting from DC some hours after rush hour on the public transport system is not exactly supersafe. No parking = no Chris Wood PhD. Yeah, like anyone would be bothered.

But with or without me it's going to be a great BBC Question Time: "Hosted by
David Dimbleby
With Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Presidential nominee John Edwards and an advisor to Barack Obama on health issues; Carly Fiorina, Economic Adviser to John McCain;Simon Schama, the renowned historian; Clarence Page, the Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Tribune journalist and Cheri Jacobus Republican Strategist", and what's more the event is being hosted in DC's latest museum, the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, 20001 - just a few blocks from the White House and just a few blocks more from the US Capitol building (Congress).

Un o Eryri said...

Surely the most important point here is that should two individuals with such a warped sense of humour be employed by the BBC at all. I can honestly say that I usually do manage to find the off switch when I see either of them, but I shudder to think that some people might think it's normal to behave as these two do. The offence in my opinion was actually leaving the message in the first place, not in a producer allowing it to be broadcast. The producer might have done everybody a favour by allowing everybody to hear what was done, and hopefully making sure that people respond by insisting that the BBC stop wasting licence payer's money on their wages.

penlan said...

We need Public Service broadcasting but I'm increasingly doubtful whether we need the BBC in its present state.If Ross commands £6m pa in commercial broadcasting then that is where he belongs and not receiving that from the taxpayer (the licence is a tax on owning a TV).Then the licence could be used for programmes that are for whatever reason not suitable for the commercial sector.

Frank H Little said...

Carly Fiorina? Wasn't she the chief exec who nearly ruined Hewlett-Packard with her takeover strategy?

Bonetired said...

Its nothing to do with personal taste. What those two clowns did is almost certainly illegal under the Telecommunications act. "If an individual makes a call for any of these reasons [malicious or obscene] it can be an offence under the Telecommunications Act, and callers can be jailed for up to six months."

Chris Wood (PhD, Chemistry) said...

When you talk Glyn about Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand two other images come to mind; Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Does anyone know what post 4-11 will be like with Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge of Congress? If the Democrats sweep to a landslide, it will not be Obama with the real power, but and Harry Reid - a Congress with a single party able to routinely squash filibusters and a Presidential Veto means whatever the President wants, Congress decides.

The Democrats want NAFTA and the WTO kicked into touch, the Federal Tax Code re-written to bring jobs back to the USA - good goals from the American perspective, but 'DREAD' might follow for Europe/UK/Wales.

With two checks/balances gone, Congress will be in Charge, not the President, who will loose the power of veto, and the opposition Party its filibusters.

"Be careful what you wish for Europe". You might just get it, but not with icing on top and not with a cherry teacake. If Congress turns into a wormhole of protectionism, DREAD (for Europe) will not be far behind.

I wonder if a question will come up about the problem of having one party with an overwhelming majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will come up in BBC's Question Time, that is my written question, and who knows, I might be wearing a T-shirt with the question printed on it (but probably will be in a dark business suit- I am Joe the Lawyer.

Glyn Davies said...

christopher - If anyone drops out at the last minute, don't be surprised if the BBC draft in Jonathon Ross!

un o eryri - Well it seems that the Beeb won't have to waste any money on one of them in future! I don't agree with you though. For me the bigger crime is the BBC for approving the item. Anf if the BBC had dealt with this issue with any sort of urgency, there would not have been the furore.

penlan - This issue has ensured that there will be a lot of discussion about the point you make. And they brought it on themselves.

Frank - No idea.

Bonetired - I suspect the Beeb are now desperate to draw a line under this - now that the public have forced a belated reaction. Problem now is that the response will be design ed to placate public opinion, rather than be a considered response to what's happened - No matter how much protest there is to the contrary.

Christopher - And its a good question. I've read a couple of articles that are focussing on the absense of any real power the new President will have if there's a landslide.

Christopher Wood (PhD Chemist and US Lawyer) said...

Glyn> Well Obama and the Democratic Party are going to give tax credits to US firms that generate new jobs for Americans, particularly jobs brought back to America. Good for American workers Unions and American workers, but BAD BAD for the UK and beyond. I don't know where some of my fellow Brits get it from that a sweeping Democratic victory spells goodness and sunshine for the rest of the world.

No it doesn't - American companies that export jobs will lose tax credits and American companies that generate jobs back in the USA get tax credits. It's a carrot in the front, and a kick up the rear for US companies that generate jobs abroad/outside the USA.

There's going to be a tidal wave of jobs coming back to the USA - I happen to support Obama and the Democrats on this policy of really putting the USA first. But it does go against WTO and NAFTA treaties, but my fellow Brits - don't you get it yet??? It's going to cost jobs in the UK, in the Welsh heartlands.

I just don't get it, how can my fellow Brits be so blind and lack critical thinking. Bush is going to be re-elected on November 4 - because the US Constitution says he can't be re-elected. A President can serve two terms and zip.

This straw man, very cleverly put up by Obama, might well result in a landslide victory so strong that DREAD will follow. Pelosi and Harry Reid will be running the USA, not Obama. Without veto power Obama will have little to say or meaningfully sign. The Pelosi/Reid Congress can legislate with or without the President Obama's signature.

My fellow Brits will likely get what the wish for, but at DREAD price in jobs going back to the USA. In times of recession we need cool heads, but it seems my fellow Brits are heading for the nearest cliff/high roof top and acting like headless chickens with Lemming like mentality. Even the Telegraph is wishing for a landslide victory. Don't you guys get it yet? A landslide victory will SPELL DISASTER for Europe.

Obama and the Democratic Party are not what you think they are, they will bring jobs back to the USA, jobs now in Europe/UK/Welsh heartlands ... and DREAD will follow. War in all but name with WTO/NAFTA will follow. DREAD will have a home and a name.

Dr. Chris Wood (Chemist, not medic) said...

Sorry, some typos in my previous post, e.g., "Bush is going to be re-elected on November 4 - because the US Constitution says he can't be re-elected" should have read: "Bush is NOT going to be re-elected on November 4 - because the US Constitution says he can't be re-elected."

I'm a bit tired having worked through the night to get some projects finished ahead of spending a few hours later today in downtown DC at the BBC's Question Time event in Washington, DC, just a few blocks from the White House. I tried to get a place in the audience for my mother - mum's a freshly minted US citizen ("USC") - just last week! But the BBC said the event is overbooked as it is and could only give me one seat/ticket.

The USCIS official that officiated at the ceremony (DC Head Honcho handling USC matters) said something very interesting at my mothers USC swearing in ceremony – all children were automatically US Citizens too, without having to file separately. Live in America 5 years and you and your kids get USC! Wow!

The BBC says the debate is going to be: “…a lively informative debate, please be ready to participate”. I will try and do my best to get a few words in sideways, under the carpet, over the hedge, between pillars, by magic, and if all fails by osmosis.

To get there will mean using the DC metro (“tube”), it’s a great system, cleanest I have seen, much cleaner than NYC’s metro/tube, and much more reliable than Chicago’s metro, but not as much fun as Chicago’s metro. I rather drive though, I don't like traveling back on the DC metro at night outside rush hour, but can't be sure of parking. DC is well patrolled with cops both in uniform and plain clothes, but I have had too many close calls traveling on the Chicago metro after night law classes - I learnt it's a lot more dangerous at night after rush hour.

On a brighter note, there’s “Tea/coffee/water available on arrival”, so I guess we get to circulate and chat – great opportunity to network, hear UK accents, and meet fresh US/UK citizens living in the DC metro area.