back to article How can the BBC be saved from itself without destroying it?

Regardless of your opinion of the BBC today, the loss of an independent Beeb would be a loss to British public life. It's the BBC's independence that makes it unique - not, as it likes to insist, its funding from TV licence fees. Many countries have public-funded broadcasters that are bankrolled through a compulsory tax or …


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      1. Spoonsinger

        Re:- Standard Horizon formula:

        You obviously missed :-

        Film crews and producers get all-in paid for trips around the world to film road junctions in New york, sandy beaches in the Caribbean, jungly bushes in the jungle - depending on the subject - and regardless of how tenuous the connection is to that subject in the episode.

  1. Peter 54

    'the loss of an independent Beeb would be a loss to British public life'


    I see what you did there, but the notion of independence, at least as far as the BBC defines it, has crossed too many lines. Especially today.

    It is beyond saving as it cannot be trusted to be accurate or impartial at any level.

    Which for a news entity... is pretty key.

    Lives depend on what they cannot, or don't want to... get right.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's have a referendum?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lot of BBC staff on here today. You have no choice about the licence fee - well unless that choice is to be hounded by TV Licensing suggesting you are a criminal for having TV equipment capable of receiving a live TV signal (even if you did not watch BBC channels).

    People see the £140 a year as just paying for the TV - but the BBC channels make up a pretty small proportion of the Freeview channels and I object to being made to pay for it. We all pay for the NHS and defence - that makes sense - but the BBC - there are realistic alternatives there now and getting the license fee cash regardless is hardly going to make you efficient?

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Independence is vastly overrated

    Most BBC output cannot be described as "independent". What's independent about Eastenders, or Only Connect or Stricly? - Or even the overwhelming majority of the BBC radio, sports, childrens', or non-factual output?

    When people talk about the independence of the BBC all they are referring to is the tiny amount of their total output that is related to news reporting, parts of Radio 4, the odd TV/Radio news programme and a few political or current affairs productions that are purposely run in unpopular slots. Of their 8 TV channels (excluding BBC Parliament which is government financed) and dozens of radio stations (about 40 locals and a dozen-ish nationals) almost none of their content is political or in any way controversial - so can't be counted as "independent", as it has nothing to be independent from.

    None of this so-called independence is worth the £3Bn that is spent on the BBC. You could get the same sort of variety of views by selling off almost all of the BBC's assets and funding an "independent" news and current affairs programme source from a levy on all the "freed" BBC, now new commercial stations. Those programmes could then be offered back to the (truly) independent TV & radio stations for free - payback for the levy.

    Even if the government does decide to keep the BBC under its present level of control, we need to remember that the free and independent BBC only exists while the government of the day allows it to. The idea that it is some sort of bastion against totalitarianism is ridiculous: not only would the BBC be the first up against the wall, come the revolution but by presenting a centralised, bureaucratic, heirarchical, single "corporation" they are far easier to control, influence or pressurise than a collection of financially free and intellectually diverse (though the combination of intellectual and TV is impossible) TV or radio stations would ever be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Independence is vastly overrated


      Just pointing it out for you, you appear to have lost it

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Independence is vastly overrated

        I entirely disagree with your sentiments, but I felt that I had to upvote you purely on the basis of the witticism... :)

    2. 00prometheus

      Re: Independence is vastly overrated

      Yes, because in the business world you abhor monopolies, no serious businessman is continually doing his utmost to become the only competitor, and once you get there, you don't use any means necessary to promulgate the opinions that best serve your own private and personal interests. Let the really wealthy control our lives completely! They have our best interests at heart! And Murdoch goes laughing in stitches all the way to the bank.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The license fee is just another TAX - if the government wants the BBC so much or believes the voters do scrap the license fee and pay out of the treasury coffers. Got to be more efficient than having to collect license fees, allegedly police it etc. I also suspect they would be under more pressure to cut excessive costs / stop wasting money.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


      If the BBC were just funded from general taxation, it would end up under goverment control. Any suggestion about not toeing the government-of-the-day's line would almost certainly result in a little suggestion that maybe the next budget might reduce the funding a little, unless... MPs traditionally vote on the budget as a whole, mostly on party-political lines as a form of confidence vote, no-one is going to stick their neck out to vote for/against the whole budget just because they don't like one item in it.

      The TV license has to remain a separate issue, debated and voted on by Parliament as a whole, not just an "efficient" line item lost in the budget, buried under the bad news.

      1. xerocred

        Re: NO!

        If it was real tax, I wouldn't have to earn £200 to pay the £140... Think about it.

  6. zebthecat

    Steady on...

    This comments section looks to be straight off the Mail online.

    I'm scared now.

    1. P_0

      Re: Steady on...

      This comments section looks to be straight off the Mail online.

      I'm scared now.

      Yes, because if you don't like the BBC, and you believe it is wasting your money, then you must be one of those awful Daily Mail readers.

    2. Defiant
      Thumb Down

      Get Real

      The most read online newspaper in the country, yes god forbid the public had a real say, that seems to be the Leftist view

  7. jke
    Paris Hilton

    The BBC are a crock of tweet. For real news go to RT and Aljazeera. As to the programmes they are, (expletive deleted), awful.

    Paris, she should be the next DG as she would do a much better, ahem, job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RT --- controlled by the Russian federal press agency

      Al Jazeera --- controlled by the state of Qatar

      Did you forget the <sarcasm> tag, or are you just happiest if it's other countries' taxpayers funding your state -managed news? I hear there's a load of decent property available in the suburbs of Pyongyang, you know.

      1. Mayhem

        Controlled by Qatar

        But free to say what it likes about anyone else.

        That is the key - there is nothing wrong with a vested interest as long as that interest is known - people can then correct for the bias.

        And there's nothing the Qatari leaders seem to enjoy more than taking potshots at their arab neighbors, so the journalism of Al Jazeera is surprisingly good and open on everything except Qatar, which frankly is a fairly small inoffensive country.

        1. afortiorama

          Re: Controlled by Qatar

          > Al Jazeera is surprisingly good and open on everything except Qatar which frankly is a fairly small inoffensive country.

          Are you suggesting the BBC should be good and open towards everyone but the UK (which frankly is nowadays a fairly small and inoffensive island).

    2. Trollslayer

      I have to agree about Al jazeera - I watched some of their broadcasts during the uprising in Egypt and they have the proffesionalism the BBC used to lead the world in.

      It is important to remember their origins - originally set up as the BBC Arab world channel and trained accordingly. It shows.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        ...and I have to agree about RT. I don't expect a balanced exposition of Chetchen politics from them, but their editorial line (unsurprisingly) encourages the presentation of 'dissident' views from the US and the UK.

        Consequently, they are one of the few places to obtain stories which the BBC won't run. Kind of ironic, really, given that I grew up during the Cold War, when the BBC were famous for providing this service to the Russians...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Climate obsession

    The Reg really has a bee in its bonnet over climate change. The usual collection of journos who really know little about the science that sits behind the current thinking really need to stop sounding like rabid dogs over the issue.

    Yes, the BBC needs reform and and as someone currently working in this area, I agree that the list of attendees at the conference really should not have been hidden. Balance is definitely required on both sides of the equation, however this unholy obsession is not helpful.

    The conference and lack of information on attendees however is not the BBC's biggest failing. There are much more serious issues and allegations that need to be followed up.

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Climate obsession

      'The usual collection of journos who really know little about the science that sits behind the current thinking really need to stop sounding like rabid dogs over the issue.'

      You're referring to the BBC here right?

  9. Alan Denman

    High minded stuff needed or wlse we are doomed.

    The 24 hour drivel helps ensure the nation is stupid and uncompetitive.

    Sugar candy rots so chasing ratings is short good fun, long term extinction.

  10. James Micallef Silver badge


    This sentence - "Another [assumption] is that viewers will respond to conditioning - a discredited behaviourist assumption" - is completely wrong. Humans DO respond to conditioning and it's been proven over and over.

    I completely agree with your pushback against this: "another assumption: that what the audience really needs is conditioning - for their own good - rather than an understanding of a subtle and complex subject "

    Perhaps you are confusing the 2 things. Just because it's immoral to condition an audience does not mean that it's not possible.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Immoral or Indecently Unusually Kind and Necessary?

      Perhaps you are confusing the 2 things. Just because it's immoral to condition an audience does not mean that it's not possible. .... James Micallef Posted Monday 19th November 2012 12:50 GMT

      In a world/worlds of neanderthal primitives, who have nary a clue about what really is going on and shaping their future lives, is it criminal to not change the manic mayhem with conflicting chaotic psychotic episodes or is the knowledge of how things are and how they are phormed to be, to be an overwhelming advantage to be exclusively and jealously milked and bilked for all IT is worth, for fabulous obscene personal gain whenever one recognises the ease of the exercise and the ignorance of the non existent opposition and competition? Yes, I can understand how that can seem not unattractive, however .......

      Methinks ...... Our mission. To enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain, and with vision, to be the most creative organisation in the world.. ..... is much the greater money spinner and an infinitely more powerful program for Global Cyber Command and Remote Virtual Control Centre Controllers ....... SMARTR IntelAIgent Media Director Generals.

      Which begs the question of the BBC ....... Are they into Global Cyber Command and Remote Virtual Control with Central Control and SMARTR IntelAIgent Media Director Generalship ...... for that is what is freely available to Humanity and Animals in the Field today ...... and to other wannabe Brilliant Brainwashing Corporations too, of course.

      Hi, RT/Al Jazeera/Channel 4.

  11. Tim Almond

    Make the License Fee Optional

    The BBC might be independent, but that doesn't stop it from being biased. And it isn't biased towards "the left" but towards itself and the establishment. Any opportunity to bash the free market will be taken. They will automatically side with NGOs like War on Want and Greenpeace against companies, before even checking the accusations they are making. The question is never "minister, don't you think we have enough government?" but "minister, don't you think this extra chunk of government being suggested is a good idea?".

    I'd like someone to actually produce some evidence to show that in say, news, they do any more public good than the free press.

    Most importantly, we no longer have the limited amount of media channels that we had in the 1960s. I grew up with 3 channels and you can understand that government might want to ensure that you get diversity, but in these days of Freeview, satellite and the internet, there's plenty of diversity. On YouTube, I can watch videos of economists talking about Hayek, 90 minute reviews of the Star Wars prequels, performances of Verdi's Requiem and a bloke doing a metal version of Gangnam Style.

    And there's no reason today that it can't be done by subscription and a smart card.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yea, the BBC are independant...

    ...thats why they are balanced enough not to censor their comedy shows from making Jimmy Savile comments.

    Oh wait, I was thinking of Channel 4 and the likes.

  13. rhydian

    That bloody licence...

    My problem with the BBC/TV licence is that even if I'm watching international broadcasts via satellite I have to, by. law, pay £145 for the privilige. The BBC does make good programmes on occasion, but so do sky/ITV/C4,, who I can choose to support or not.

  14. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Insurance stories.

    One of my firends is married to a woman that used to write stories for the insurance companies. It sounds like a strange job for a girl with a BA in Englist Literature, but her job was part of their marketing team's devcelopment of sales tools. Her job was to write stories and convert them into scripts that could be made into short videos for the insurance salesgrunts to take round to peoples' homes, pop in the VCR and show them why they needed to buy Comapny X's insurance policy. My friend's wife left the industry because she got truly sick of the work she was being asked to do.

    As an example, she showed me one tape used by a leading UK insurer, which had two stories for selling savings plans, pensions and life insurance. The first was about a lovely family - professional working hubbie, part-time working housewife, two kids of school age - and one day the hubbie goes to work and dies in a car-crash. Suddenly poor little wife is left struggling on her part-time income because hubbie hadn't taken out life insurance. The mortgage is covered but she can't make ends meet on her wage so they lose the house, and she and her two kids have to leave their detached house and move into a nasty council highrise. To cut a long story short, she ends up doing three part-time jobs, gets mugged, her kids start failing at school and end up doing drugs. Wifey ends up crying in her flat, screaming why didn't her hubbie love her enough to take out life insurance?

    The second was about a charming old couple that hadn't "foreseen the costs of retirement", had to sell their car to buy food, and ended with the old geezer accidentally taking a swan-dive off his roof when trying to repair a hole because they couldn't afford to pay a builder. There was an optional follow-up video to sell private healthcare. The final message was "would you let this to happen to your parents?"

    Insurance men will ALWAYS tell you the worst story they can think of to take your money. I'm not surpried the Beeb tried to hide the 28 list as just the insuarnce vulture alone makes it obvious the Beeb has woken up and found their so-called "intelligent" staff got mugged.

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Meanwhile, elsewhere, are plans afoot which are easily plausibly deniable .........

    [quote]amanfromMars 19 November 2012 at 9:34 am …. calling a spade a spade on

    What better time than now then for intelligence services to step in and take over the news supply role and show smarter leadership with novel programs and projects.

    The fact that they don’t and/or won’t is an obvious sign of a lack of intelligence and leadership in the field and in those heading C-operations/deciding M-strategies. And that is an abiding, easily exploitable weakness and juicy zeroday vulnerability which cannot be denied nor countered with an approach which does not see radical change as necessary and vital for novel virtual command and remote practical control of that which powers your everyday realities and manufactured perceptions.

    Oh, and if you think intelligence is currently responsible for that which media shows are realities around the world, then what more can one say other than to warn everyone that they have been hacked and fraudsters and traitors rule badly and madly in their midsts.[/quote]

    And that is all perfectly consistent with this earlier Registered post which, just in case it is not clear to you, expresses the opinion that the BBC is not fit for future Great Game purpose, and that is as a result of a lack of suitably intelligent personnel at the numerous helms, which one would have reasonably expected to be super creative and enlightening.

    And the problem, in all such cases, is rooted right at the top of the command and control tree.

  16. Retne

    Dear Mr Orlowski

    Please stop your fanboi reporting of the climate skeptics conclusions. Fanboi used here as you seem to base your rants on blind faith rather than established and agreed upon research, (and they do come across as ranting).

    It's not just the content of the environmental pieces themselves that causes me to comment but also how amazed I am that I clicked on this story thinking it might be a piece about the BBC, but it twisted itself into taking a Fox-ite view of the climate change issues.

    If you care to check the (vast) majority of scientific journals you would see that the consensus states we're changing our environment. Substantially. It's such a complicated issue that the details are certainly being examined and explored, but the reports on this site would suggest the issue of climate change itself is what's being discussed, not the minutia.

    There's no little irony in your calls for unbiased reporting when on this matter you're pretty close to the oil companies not-at-all-biased-views-honest as far as denial and blinkered reporting goes.

    The annoying thing is I love El Reg's reporting generally, for which you can take credit, but I also like to think that you'd practice what you preach when bemoaning the _BBC's_ apparent bias.

  17. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ..If you care to check the (vast) majority of scientific journals you would see that the consensus states we're changing our environment. Substantially...

    I check them. There's no such thing as consensus in science, but there is no proof whatsoever that we're 'changing our environment substantially', whatever that means. Nature had to do an editorial a few months ago, specifically rejecting the idea that there was any increase in 'extreme weather' detected.

    you're pretty close to the oil companies not-at-all-biased-views-honest as far as denial and blinkered reporting goes.

    That charge is always humorous :) . The oil companies are some of the biggest supporters of the global warming scare. They even had a rep at the 28-gate meeting. I know of NO recent oil company attack on global warming theory. Can you provide any examples?

  18. Josh 15
    Thumb Up

    TwentyEightGate is a BBC Scandal

    Andrew, a shame that so many here would rather squabble about the status of the BBC as a public service broadcaster than the issues of impartiality and honesty you eloquently write about in your piece. I'd just like to thank you for keeping up your efforts to expose 'the climate bias', whether in the BBC or loose-cannon 'green' NGOs 'sexing up' their news releases with willful misinformation etc.

    As a UK TV license payer, I'm disgusted with the BBC's handling of so-called 'man-made' climate change issues. There is quite simply no discussion and very few, if any skeptical voices are ever permitted on these publicly-funded airwaves (a total disgrace and, I'm sure, a breach of Charter obligations) - but even when such voices are rarely permitted they are usually sneered at and demeaned by a bullying Corporation intent on holding to its agreed doctrine on CAGW.

    Keep up the good work, Andrew; 'TwentyEightGate' is a scandal. The BBC will do their level best to ignore the whole thing and carry on, business as usual. It's up to voices like yours and all of us climate sceptics to keep this particular thorn worrying away in their side. Long live El Reg!

  19. Dangermouse

    Distribution lists in use?

    It seems that an awful lot of BBC people have been here today down-voting anything that might disturb their cosy little closed door world.

    I'm guessing it's because Orlowski was one of the tiny handful of journalists - not including the BBC, I might add - who even bothered to attend the court case that started this.

    He must be a marked man.

    As for the summary of the climate issues given in the article, anyone with any technical, scientific or engineering experience should agree that it is absolutely spot-on.

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    All this is well and good

    But you are completely missing the the whole point about the 'green' eco anti climate change campaign

    Its not important that the beeb is a left wing bunch of idiots, or that the TV licence is a pain in the backside, thats just nice distractions for the people to fight over instead of looking whats really going on

    The important thing is the way the anti climate change thing is being run by a bunch of ex-communists and marxists who shifted into the green movement after their beloved socialist paradises went belly up in 1990.

    Why else would accusations of "you're just in the pay of oil multi-nationals" cry out when a skeptic published something that they disagreed with.

    Or trying to deny the use of a proven technology that can generate lots of power without CO2 getting blasted into the air

    Add to that the usual leaches(politicians) jumping on a passing bandwagon if they think it might get them an extra 100 votes, and we get the situation today.

    Where the UK will run out of power in 2.5 years time.

    Tramp icon... give it another 20 yrs and we'll all look like that in 17th century Britain

  21. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Comment seen at 'The Bishop'...

    "..But here's my take. With this article Andrew Orlowski has become one of the most important journalists of our generation..."


    Hope he doesn't get a big head....

  22. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Test Comment

    The BBC should not be spreading one-sided propaganda.

    Now let us watch the votes....

  23. quatra

    I beg to differ from the mayority here. The BBC provides the best programming in the world just because of their independence. But, of course, if you prefer American sensational garbage about their way to make money or their mind-numbing sense of humor, you might want to consider moving there as also a Green Card is for sale at the right price.

    1. afortiorama
      Thumb Up

      Completely agree with you.

  24. Trollslayer

    Unfortunately change is needed

    Look at Newsnight - it used to be a flagship programme and in recent years they do whatever they like and expect to get away with it.

    We heard about the Lord McAlpine issue because he had the influence ot raise it, they lie about little people to make easy airtime who can't afford to defend themselves.

    There is an attitude that they don't answer to anyone which is still too prevalent and this is what must be addressed.

  25. Defiant

    Oh give it a rest you Lefty

    " the loss of an independent Beeb would be a loss to British public life."

    Speak for yourself, talk about being biased and one sided. I think the BBC is a left-wing mouth piece and if the BBC was so great you wouldn't need to force an entire country to fund it via the BBC TV Licence™

    Replace the BBC TV Licence™ with a voluntary subscription and you'll see just how liked the BBC really is, the BBC would truly be "independent" then too!

    1. Alex King

      Re: Oh give it a rest you Lefty

      We don't have a great record of spending our own money on things that are actually good for us. It's not an option to only spend money on the things we're using at the time. We all benefit from the BBC, whether or not we actually watch it in much the same way that we all benefit from the NHS whether or not we ever see a doctor.

      As has been pointed out ad nauseam, the majority of BBC output is legally available without paying a licence fee, so you have your options right there

      The alternatives are to rely on the likes of Sky (brought to you by those fine, upstanding public servants who brought you Fox News, the News of the World and ploice brbvery), Channel 4 News (who are unquestionably further left than the beeb), or ITV (who have barely been able to afford a pot to piss in for the past decade).

      To pararphrase Churchill - the Licence fee funded BBC is the worst arrangement for impartial broadcasting there is - apart from all the others we've tried.

      Oh, and if you think the BBC is left-biased, you should try listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 - such spittle-flecked right-wing reactionary nonsense I've never heard this side of Richard Littlejohn. Even if the beeb is a little leftist overall, so be it - so is the UK, and the right will always have Sky, the Mail and the Telegraph to go to.

  26. Sirius Lee

    Well done Andrew

    A thoughtful review of the condition of the BBC.

    By way of disclosure, my view is that the UK benefits from some form of public broadcasting - just not to the scale of the current BBC. News, Horizon, Panorama, accommodation of minorities, new forms of entertainment, perhaps. But is it really necessary for Auntie to have 6 radio channels and so many TV channels at the public's and the huge and manifest management problems that result?

  27. daveeff

    Simple cure...

    The BBC should employ some scientists "Roger Harrabin ... studied English at St Catharine's College, Cambridge" (my exclusive research at wikipedia informs me).

    Oh it does - Brian Cox, but he was in a band so he's OK.

    You shouldn't be allowed to comment on air or set editorial policy about stuff you know nothing!

    Everyone is entitle to their informed opinion!


  28. pewpie
    Big Brother

    Independent BBC?

    BBC has been a covert branch of government since it's inception and will remain so. These days the commercial broadcasters are no better either. Anyone who disagrees clearly hasn't studied common purose and the organisational upper management/editorial structures.

    'The revolution will not be televised.'

  29. elgeebar

    Forget Auntie for a second... What about the Climate?

    Going slightly off topic (the BBC) and at the risk on inducing some actual rational debate (on the Climate), lets pose some "what if" scenarios....

    1/ Climate change is NOT happening: We continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens? Well some environmental engineers makes some money making filters and god only knows what else plus some fish in the river don't die. Conclusion, good for the economy and good news for everything else!

    2/ Climate change is NOT happening: We don't continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens? Oops, a few environmental engineers go bust because nobody no-longer wants their filters or what ever product. Conclusion, bad for the economy but good news for everything else!

    3/ Climate change IS happening: We don't continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens? Oops, guess we or our children or our grand-children are all going to die sucking on man made poisons. Conclusion, bad for the economy and everything else!

    4/ Climate change IS happening: We continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens? Oops, but not so bad because we erred on the side of caution with the air we breath and water we drink, at least we're not going to all die. Conclusion, good for the economy but not so good for everything else!

    In three of those scenarios, life goes on. Now I'm not into irrational risk taking so can we all agree that "3" is a really bad idea and "2" is not great for the economy? That leaves us with "1" and "4"... lets keep doing the science and debating the results until we find out which one is conclusively right but until then, lets err on the side of caution?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Forget Auntie for a second... What about the Climate?

      Yeaj, right. Maybe you want to consider who will be paying and for what, and what else the money could have been spent on:

      "....1/ Climate change is NOT happening: We continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens?...." Con men get to take money from the taxpayers that could have been spent on roads, education, hospitals, etc, etc.

      "....2/ Climate change is NOT happening: We don't continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens?...." Al Gore doesn't get to make a second billion out of the poor, more roads and hospitals get built, our kids grow up smarter and better prepared for the future.

      "....3/ Climate change IS happening: We don't continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society:...." The money better spent on roads allows us to find and fix issues like floods sooner and better; the better healthcare saves more of the victims of any climate event; and the better education means our kids develop the solutions much sooner.

      ".....4/ Climate change IS happening: We continue to make pro-environmental changes to industry and society: What happens?...." We have an ice age and go back to burning everything we can lay our hands on as fast as possible, especially the corpses of the hippies. Our kids are too stupid to solve the issues because we wasted all our education budget on windmills, and we don't have enough energy to last through the ice age becasue the hippies spent all the money on windmills and jos sticks. Game over.

      Option 2 seems just fine to me.


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