back to article Grinning BBC boss blows raspberry at UK.gov, eyes up buffet

The BBC has blown a raspberry at both the Minister of Fun and the Chancellor, who want a smaller and more focused BBC, by setting out plans to embiggen itself. The media giant’s new strategy, which has a pre-election feel to it, sees the Corporation expanding furiously in all directions while threatening to close down iconic …

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  1. gv

    Print Media

    "Newspapers contributed to the crisis by failing to develop platforms, and by giving away their content for free."

    A strategy adopted by some of the print media (Metro, Evening Standard, et al.).

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Print Media

      Which only works for them because of a giant captive market twice daily.

      1. Chronos
        Devil

        Re: Print Media

        Which only works for them because of a giant captive market twice daily.

        Yet more reason to eschew public transport, as if we need more...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Print Media

        Just like The Register then.

        You have a captive audience as well. I am a connesieur of commentardery. Nowhere else on the internet can I find a finer gathering of wankers and blowhards to downvote me.

        I love all of the commentards here, its just a shame we have to gather on this so called website.

        Reddit is too hard and twitters 140 characters arent very accomodating when it comes to a full bore, witless and rambling rant such as this.

        AC because ill get downvoted and just like Eadon (probably) I rub my nipples everytime I get downvoted.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Print Media

          > twitter's

          1. CaptainBanjax

            Re: Print Media

            Twitters'

  2. Nigel Whitfield.

    Replacement, not collaboration

    While on the face of it the public service reporters idea is a good one, the cynic in me thinks that the local newspapers will continue on their single minded destruction of their own businesses. That's something that, by and large, they have acheived with no help from the BBC, by cutting staff, regionalising production, so that little things like knowledge of correctly spelled local place names is lost, as papers are subbed hundreds of miles away from where they are notionally based.

    The big local companies have merged production and newsrooms, cut reporters on the ground, and often have the most ghastly unnavigable websites, with content repeated across various micro-editions.

    They have achieved all this, together with a continuing payout of dividends to their greedy shareholders and management, on their own. The reason they are in such a shitty, parlous state has far more to do with that than to do with the BBC.

    And, given the ready availability of a 'shared' resource that's they don't have to pay for, it doesn't take much imagination to suspect that they will grab it with both hands, and see it as another opportunity to cut staff, rather than do anything to actually improve their offerings.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Replacement, not collaboration

      "cutting staff, regionalising production, so that little things like knowledge of correctly spelled local place names is lost, as papers are subbed hundreds of miles away from where they are notionally based."

      And in the case of my local paper not bothering to send a photographer out to the scene of the story - they just print screen-scrapes from Streetview.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Replacement, not collaboration

        Yep; photographers have long gone. Which is silly, because in the old days, the press photographer going round the flower shows, sports days and so on was one of the things that helped encourage people to buy a copy of the paper, and tell Auntie Flo to get one too, so she could see little Jimmy.

        The Hampshire Chronicle office in Winchester used to do a good trade in prints from the pictures, I believe. Sadly that's now just another branded website with the same look as the Echo. Never been the same since they got rid of the ads on the front page...

        The heads of companies like Archant and Newsquest seem to be able to trouser huge amounts of cash, while paying staff a pittance. With so few people on the ground, they're reduced to trawling twitter and asking people for permission to use photos that have been posted.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Replacement, not collaboration

          Heard someone from the Bournemouth Echo on radio 4 this morning commenting on BBC plans. Saying how they already got a million viewers of their website, and didn't need Auntie's help, nosiree. Look them up and lo and behold - a newsquest subsidiary.

          Archant's seem to be more regionally focussed in terms of their core daily paid papers cover Norfolk and Suffolk, the paid weeklies generally extend upon that area (with the exception of Kent and Somerset!).

    2. montyburns56

      Re: Replacement, not collaboration

      But presumably part of the reason why they have had to carry out these cost cutting exercises is because their revenue from job ads & other classifieds has collapsed by such a significant amount. I remember when there would be about five or six job pages each day in my local evening paper whereas now there is usually about one to two on a good day.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Replacement, not collaboration

        @montyburns56

        Yes, the small ads of course used to be a pretty reliable stream of income, and that collapsed, and caused huge problems. I would maybe go as far as to suggest that not finding a way to replace that revenue stream, and being very late to the party when it comes to offering online classifieds is the real cause of the problems so many local papers have.

        They could have tried coming up with a decent online proposition for classified, or perhaps investing in real local news which has never, despite their moans, be a real strongpoint of the BBC website. But instead they've laid people off, cut costs in the wrong places (production, subbing, photographers) and paid execs a huge amount.

        Last year, for example, Newsquest reported an 11% slump in profits (Graun link here), but still managed to find £268k to give one of their directors a performance related payment!. Some of the company's journalists on titles in London don't even make the London Living Wage, presently £9.15 an hour.

        Management refuses to invest in their product, trousers the cash and then blames the BBC for their own failure to innovate. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

      2. Tom 13

        Re: job ads & other classifieds has collapsed by such a significant amount.

        Maybe. But I think other 'tudes sported by so called journalists are a more important part of the problem. I use to be one of those people who actually paid to have a newspaper delivered. Then the bias got to be too much for me so I stopped the subscription. I carried it even when my news was mostly more than 24 hours late because the morning paper was delivered after I left the house to catch my train. But the bias was just too much. For a while I picked up a freebie at the station, then they stopped printing the freebie in preference to web only.

    3. Vic

      Re: Replacement, not collaboration

      The big local companies have merged production and newsrooms, cut reporters on the ground

      I went to a photo-shoot this evening. The paper wanted to do an article on a bunch of us.

      This afternoon, they rang to tell us that they didn't have a photographer available, so could we take the photo ourselves and send it to them?

      Vic.

  3. x 7

    just heard him spouting bullshit on the Jeremy Vine Radio 2 show

    Sounded like a self-reverential version of The Laughing Gnome

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "just heard him"

      I assume you have a specific "him" in mind. Is this a "guess who?" competition?

      1. x 7

        "I assume you have a specific "him" in mind. Is this a "guess who?" competition?"

        within the context of the person named in the primary article, and the accompanying headshot of a grimacing mannikin, I considered further identification superfluous.

        If you read the report its pretty obvious

  4. AMBxx Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Don't care

    I don't care what they do. I just want to stop paying for their nonsense. Please can we have a proper system where we pay for a licence to watch the BBC rather than having to buy a licence just to watch anything broadcast.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Don't care

      @ AMBxx

      Careful, such comments usually lead to a lot of down votes and comments about the 'quality' content for the low low bargain price of everyone else pays.

    2. Tachikoma
      Windows

      Re: Don't care

      Hi I'm Tachi McKoma, you might remember me from such commentard post such as "I won't pay for that BBC crap" and "Not paying for a TV licence means I can afford a healthy heroin addiction!*"

      Had the parents stay with me for a few weeks and they paid the BBC tax so they could watch the sport or Eastenders or something, when they left there was another 2 weeks left, so I decided to give it a concerted effort and see if it was still as bad as I remembered.

      Yep, after a few days of Top Gear re-runs and some baking show with a contestant that looks like Rick Mayall, I disconnected the aerial again and didn't bother, even when it was free I couldn't find much worth watching.

      Not to belittle people that do consume BBC content, or TV in general, I just feel it has been surpassed by on demand content. If I want to watch a drama, I can just fire up Netflix or LoveFIlm or NowTV or Amazon Instant or certain proxy/file host services and watch an entire season over a weekend, not have to wait a week for the next episode. I'm doing that now with The Strain, very good it is too, even if it does make me think of Las Plagas from Resident Evil 4/Blade 2.

      This announcement just feels like a knee jerk reaction and an attempt to embed the BBC into even more services as possible to make it "indispensable" when the next charter comes up.

      *Not really

      Icon because I'm a miserable grumpy hermit

  5. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    Give us more money or we will stop working and blame your cuts. Sounds like a union.

  6. Chronos
    Flame

    Great

    So I'm stuck paying the telly tax if I want to use my computer because we all know the iPlayer "loophole" being closed will mean anyone capable of using iPlayer in the UK will be rogered senseless until they pay up.

    Not only is the telly tax regressive, it originally depended on the WT Act for its existence. I suppose you could argue that anyone using WiFi is technically receiving TV off-air but that's pure sophistry.

    Also, isn't it a bugger when a tin-pot broadcasting company full of luvvies can hold your democratically elected government to ransom? There's something seriously amiss with that situation.

    1. ScottME

      Re: Great

      "Democratically elected" - don't make me laugh. Over two thirds of voters picked someone other than the Tories.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Great

        "Over two thirds of voters picked someone other than the Tories."

        That argument might hold water if those two thirds all agreed on the same party. As it stands, despite ending up with Cameron, it's probably the "best" system we have to work with. Most of the PR systems seem to mean that some constituencies might end up with a 2nd or even 3rd placed candidate being your new MP.

        Maybe we could go sort of american and use first past the post for MP and largest total vote for Prime Minister and see if we can hamstring the govt. more than usual by having opposing parties running the joint at the same time. That might even be a good thing ;-)

        (I don't think I want to see US Presidential style elections separate from the MPs elections)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great

          >Maybe we could go sort of american and use first past the post for MP and largest total vote for Prime Minister

          POTUS is not elected by a total vote. Read this and be surprised...

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_%28United_States%29

          Slightly different topic: At least the Americans realise FPTP only works if there's two candidates so they have introduced multiple rounds of voting by having the party primaries.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Great

            POTUS is not elected by a total vote. Read this and be surprised...

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_%28United_States%29

            Yes, I was aware of that. And that the Electoral Collage reps are not obliged to follow the their constituents choice. :-) That's why I said "sort of american" in that we don't actually vote for a PM, the winning party's leader (usually!) becomes PM (Although the MPs could theoretically choose someone else, especially if the party leader doesn't win his/her seat.

            Slightly different topic: At least the Ameicans realise FPTP only works if there's two candidates so they have introduced multiple rounds of voting by having the party primaries.

            But isn't there usually more than two choices? I thought the primaries were where a specific party choose their single candidate. But that doesn't preclude more parties or independents going up for POTUS.

      2. The Vociferous Time Waster

        Re: Great

        And that is how Labour got in but nobody moaned then. That is how our electoral system works.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Pint

          Re: Great

          Yes they did moan, and how. Despite Blaier being the best Tory PM for a generation - have a beer it'll make you feel much better

  7. Otto is a bear.

    The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

    have to say if I was georgeous George and had the BBC threaten me with that, I'd say bring it on. The distraction caused by the news and the subsequent debate would let me cover up all manor of nastiness.

    Don't forget the Tories hate the BBC with a passion because they are independent and have the temerity to report government policy and its effects. They even go so far as to air people questioning their policies and to highlight mistakes. All politicians, commercial organisations and media proprietors hate the BBC, it is independent, it has secure funding, and can't be bought with advertising revenue.

    It really isn't politically biased, but we tend to highlight those times the BBC reports against our beliefs, rather than those the report for, and these days small voices can be amplified by social media. If the BBC did not exist, the world would be the poorer, and the UK much less free.

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

      They're biased alright - they just like to cover it up by loudly insisting they're unbiased and therefore anyone calling them out must, ipso facto, be biased themselves.

      Way back when the UEA climategate emails first came out, exposing the web of lies the anti-global cooling industry was built on, the BBC's first report was along the lines of "emails have been leaked from a climate institute. There is nothing to worry about". As someone who, at the time, didn't know or care about the global cooling debate, it was confusing and very obviously one-sided. It spurred me to look at newspaper websites to discover that the entire heart of the global warming industry had been torn out and laid bare, destroying what I now know to be a core part of BBC editorial belief.

      Since then I've never trusted the BBC news website to give a complete picture of what's going on. At best it's a pointer towards what young, left-wing, London-dwelling arts graduates think should be important. And Andrew Neil on Sundays.

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

        Okay, now I'm seriously confused. I never saw anything come out of Climategate. Nothing actually changed after it all died down, it was all just covered in flung poop.

        I already knew 99% of humans sucked at statistics, including a lot of scientists, and that science involves everyone bashing each other's pets until bits stop falling off.

        As far as I can tell, the BBC were right.

      2. Jim 59

        Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

        At best it's a pointer towards what young, left-wing, London-dwelling arts graduates think should be important. And Andrew Neil on Sundays

        Slight correction:

        At best it's a pointer towards what young old, rich, left-wing, north-west London-dwelling arts graduates think should be important. And Andrew Neil on Sundays.

        1. Hans 1

          Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

          >old, rich, left-wing

          Those three just about cover then entire UK population ... Labour, Conservatives, UKIP, BNP and the other stupid little parties from Ireland and Scotland want to take money from the poor and feed it to the rich. Left-wing is usually the opposite.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

        "They're biased alright - they just like to cover it up by loudly insisting they're unbiased and therefore anyone calling them out must, ipso facto, be biased themselves."

        I think Rod Liddle, ex-editor of the Today programme, has it right in a review of a book about the BBC:

        'The truth is that the BBC has tended, over the years, to be biased in favour of the mores and opinions of whatever establishment holds sway. Not the government, but the establishment. Today’s establishment is liberal, politically correct, politically naive and gullible. It’s no surprise that Charlotte Higgins is incapable of recognising this, seeing as she is part of it.'

        http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/9598782/the-story-of-the-bbc/

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

        Look so bits of the BBC new website may show left wing bias, but there's plenty of neo-liberal thinking, particularly the economics section, so a left winger can be pretty unhappy about the way they frame things as well.

    2. Ru'

      Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

      "...It really isn't politically biased..."

      Possibly (although I'm not sure I agree). It sure is ideologically biased though.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The BBC threatening to help Osborne, sounds implausible

      "Don't forget the Tories hate the BBC with a passion"

      Actually any incumbent government hates the BBC with a passion.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two issues here:

    1) Radio transmissions to PRNK and TV services to Russia (you missed the Russia bit Andrew) :

    This is quite obviously a Gov request for propaganda so Gov shouldn't whine.

    2) Free TV licences for the over 75s.

    Just because someone is 75+ doesn't mean they are poor, the Queen is over 75 and worth a few hundred million; means test it. Warren Buffett is 85 and worth billllleeeeeooooonnns ;)

    1. Chris Miller

      Which is the standard argument against universal benefits for older people, such as bus passes, winter heating allowance etc. The problem could be fixed by means testing them, but how much would it cost to means test every recipient of a benefit worth a most a couple of hundred quid? My suggestion is to up all the benefits by ~25-30% and make them taxable. Those too poor to pay tax at all would get an enhanced benefit, while those subject to higher rate tax would lose out a bit, and the net cost should by roughly zero.

    2. BoldMan

      This has been analysed to death - the cost of means testing this and other universal pensioner benefits would cost MORE than would be saved.

  9. Ru'

    Remind me again why the BBC feels the need to stir things up by broadcasting into N Korea? Must've missed that one.

    1. Michael B.

      Because the government foisted the entire World Service, and all of its costs, onto the BBC( with the commensurate saving of a couple of hundred million saving to the Foreign Office) and now the self same government now wants them to broadcast to Russian and North Korea.

      1. Tachikoma
        Devil

        So if I want to listen to Radio2 but not pay for it, I need to move to Best Korea?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IMHO the destruction of (most) local news is not BBC related, but came with the buyouts of lots of local newspaper companies. These days, many "local" newspapers are run by big journalistic outfits e.g. "Local World", "Trinity Mirror", "Newsquest" et al. Their "economies of scale" approach, means as few staff as possible in a "local" area, leading to few journos "on the ground" in any particular location.

    In the East Midlands, most of my "local" newspapers (bar a few that just cover a small town / area) are owned by same mega company, "local" independent radio stations run by Capital (radio "local" news equally useless). Nothing for BBC to kill in my "local" news area

    1. Michael B.

      The same happened in the Bristol area. At one time it was called the Bristol Evening Post and slowly but surely you would receive it earlier and earlier in the day until you started getting it in the morning. After that they then moved the printing to Didcot in Oxfordshire and now you are basically getting Yesterday's news tomorrow.

  11. Forget It

    Fine with me if they dismantle it all except for

    BBC radio 4

    I'd pay for that.

  12. Drudgery Leak

    The BBC is fantastic and a great institution but I am deeply concerned that they are increasingly taking over. Should the government own or sponsor the chief media channel, dominant arts distributor and principle news channel?

    Just recently I was trying to catch up with what was going on with the Kids Company closure and suddenly became aware that I was soley relying on what the BBC was saying - and day after day this was clearly being influenced at the editorial level by government spin.

  13. pewpie

    Miniprop

    Shut it all the fuck down. End of story.

    But you won't.. you like Doctor Who and Strictly too much.. doncha?

  14. Steve 114
    Thumb Down

    Inspiring words

    Provided he can find enough people to pay for them voluntarily, or can extract enough tax funds from government to subsidise them in the public interest. But NOT financed by a regressive poll-tax with 'criminal' sanctions.

  15. dave 93

    “The BBC has got an unfortunate history of never seeing an area of broadcasting, or increasingly a web presence, without feeling the need to get into it itself,” said Jeremy Paxman last year.

    Duh, the clue is in the name - British Broadcasting Corporation

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