back to article BBC's Britflix likely dead before the ink has even dried on the news

Anyone hearing this week that Britain’s BBC is set to launch against Netflix with a service touted as “BritFlix” will almost certainly get the wrong idea and believe it is actually going to happen. The move is being touted merely because the recent government review of the BBC encouraged the ancient British public broadcasters …

  1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Bloody Wittingdale. If he'd stood firm on Government representation on the board, they could have prevent self-serving nonsense like this.

    Surely a strong reformer would have been a better choice for the Ministry of Fun, given the charter renewal.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      If he'd stood firm

      He clearly needs the attention of a government whip

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: If he'd stood firm

        He clearly needs the attention of a government whip

        If the newspaper (and broadcast!) reports were true he relied more on the private sector for that.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Government representation on the board

      Government representation on the board is a terrible idea. The BBC is frightened of the government enough as it is. To involve the government at that level would be then end of the BBC.

      Oh, sorry, is that what you were getting at?

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: re: Government representation on the board

        I would like to see the end of the BBC, but if we're going to stick with it, it should be governed better.

        Could do with fixing the liberal bias too, but to do that would mean replacing the Guardian reading staff at every level.

        1. TitterYeNot

          Re: re: Government representation on the board

          "Could do with fixing the liberal bias too, but to do that would mean replacing the Guardian reading staff at every level."

          While I agree that governance at the Beeb over the last few years has not exactly been stellar, I have a hard time believing that replacing the current staff with Daily Mail and Sun readers would have a positive effect on the quality of the programmes it produces...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: Government representation on the board

            To me the Beeb seems fairly frightened to criticise the government too much (this one, the last one or the Blair/Brown lot). They don't seem to want to ask questions but just take it at face value. I heard that politicians are refusing interviews if they feel they'll be asked too many questions so perhaps that's it......

            I was curious as to why the article uses $ figures for the BBC.... bizarre.

            One final point, I heard they've lost a lot of money when Top Gear went. I heard Top Gear made them more money than anything else so I wonder if the Chris Evans version will come anywhere near that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: re: Government representation on the board

              "I heard that politicians are refusing interviews if they feel they'll be asked too many questions"

              Listening to Today and PM, they'll always say if they asked for an interview but the minister, or government department representative was "unavailable"

          2. Dr Scrum Master

            Re: re: Government representation on the board

            I have a hard time believing that replacing the current staff with Daily Mail and Sun readers would have a positive effect on the quality of the programmes it produces...

            How about El Reg readers?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Time to get with the times, Auntie

              While I might well be prepared to pay a subscription to access the BBC, why should I be compelled to pay a tax sorry licence for using a TV.

              Licences should be reserved for activities that might have an effect on others, watching TV doesn't.

              Float it as a publicly traded company (yes, it's definitely one thing that should have been privatised long ago) or adopt a similar model to Channel 4 but for goodness sake call a halt to the ridiculous tax.

        2. phuzz Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: re: Government representation on the board

          "Could do with fixing the liberal bias too"

          In case you'd never noticed, those on the left think the BBC has an unacceptable right-wing and pro-government bias.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: Government representation on the board

            " those on the left think the BBC has an unacceptable right-wing and pro-government bias."

            Those on the left can point to the near permanent presence of establishment people (e.g. Chairman of Barclays) on the various layers of senior BBC management.

            When Barclays were having great fun with Bob Diamond and Barclays tax-dodge-promotion business, every newspaper (including the Sun and the Torygraph) was reporting it. Not a word of it went out on the BBC. Odd that.

            He's no longer on the BBC board as questions were asked about it. Not at the BBC, at Barclays.

            The current finance sector representative in BBC senior management is a senior banking lady who's name I'm afraid I can't remember yet.

            Now, who can tell me the name of the most recent Trade Union sector representative on the BBC board?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: finance representatives on the board

              The name I couldn't remember earlier is Rona Fairhead.

              She has a profile on the BBC website:

              http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/who_we_are/trustees/rona_fairhead.html

              It doesn't mention that she was a £10k per day (£500K/year) director (non-exec) of HSBC Switzerland (!) until recently. Maybe they couldn't find any appropriate staff in Switzerland. This was in a period when HSBC Switzerland got themselves into even more trouble than usual (on this occasion, it was re, er, encouraging massive tax dodging. A bit like the aforementioned Barclays.).

              For that information you need to look at the well known left wing rags the Telegraph, Daily Mail, etc:

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11443185/BBC-chairman-faces-questions-over-10000-a-day-HSBC-role.html

              http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3317663/Chairman-BBC-Trust-Rona-Fairhead-quit-director-HSBC-boardroom-reshuffle.html (oh dear, where will she find a replacement £500K/year. I don't suppose she'[ll be needing the food bank.).

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rona_Fairhead

              https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/T3B8FPKUtD1QTDhXWL-ZqtQtLhU/appointments (list of Ms Fairhead's 30+ other directorships of UK companies - presumably the overseas ones are additional)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                FAIL

                Re: finance representatives on the board

                The Daily Mail is left wing?? I mean seriously??

                Given that you are quite happy to let is know the earnings of others, perhaps you would tell us yours and how you are worth it?

                And the Beeb never mentioned Barclays???

                http://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=Barclays+tax&sa_f=search-serp&suggid=

                Just sayin'

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: Government representation on the board

            those on the left think the BBC has an unacceptable right-wing and pro-government bias.

            Wrong. That's what they SAY they think.

            They are of course lying...that is what 'people on the left' do...;-)

          3. Hans 1 Silver badge

            Re: re: Government representation on the board

            >In case you'd never noticed, those on the left think the BBC has an unacceptable right-wing and pro-government bias.

            @theDownVoters, suck on this:

            BBC portrayal of the Battle of Orgreave .... they were forced to change their stance due to public unrest.

            The BBC has always been a telescreen:

            "We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past year."

            At least the TV set can be turned off ...

        3. chrspy

          Re: re: Government representation on the board

          YOu obviously missed the result of that FoI request which showed that The BBC purchased more copies of the Daily Mail than any other newspaper. And also the more recent independently conducted poll where, given a choice of seven different news organisations including Sky News, ITV News and Channel 4 News, 58% of respondents ranked the BBC first for balanced and unbiased reporting. Sky News was second, with 15%. That gap is far too large to be a polling error!!

          The BBC also ranked top when given a selection of non-broadcast sources of news. Half of respondents ranked it first as a trusted source of balanced and unbiased reporting, ahead of family members (18%), national broadsheet newspapers (11%), social media (5%) and national tabloids (2%).

        4. Andy 97

          Re: re: Government representation on the board

          Please can you demonstrate the 'liberal bias' that you mentioned.

          Ideally; what percentage of the total BBC output contained it, some references we can all check would be really helpful too.

    3. Les Matthew
      Big Brother

      "Government representation on the board, they could have prevent self-serving nonsense like this."

      And replaced it with their own self-serving nonsense.

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Expect very little commercial activity

    Given that at least 25% of the BBC's TV output is required to come from independent production companies, there's rather a lot of public money already being shovelled into the coffers of private businesses. At the outset, these were largely small companies run by "talent", but they're much more likely to be large international conglomerates these days and it may be them rather than the BBC that has the overseas rights.

    I'm rather more concerned about what is in effect a public subsidy to commercial programme makers than I am about the BBC's lack of commercial income. And I'd rather the BBC used some of the commercial income it has to acquire content from abroad rather than make more of its "distinctively British" programming that's starting to make BBC 1 and BBC 2 look distinctly parochial. However, all of this is mandated by the government, not the BBC.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Expect very little commercial activity

      An interesting point...

      IIRC GBBO (Great British Bake Off) is not only made by an independent company but is owned by it; this means that although the BBC made it a very popular programme when the contract ends the owners will be free to auction it to the highest bidder. The BBC took the initial risk in commissioning it, built up a supportive audience only to possibly lose it to another broadcaster once it became a very much going concern.

      Doesn't feel right, that.

      (Honesty compels me to admit that the BBC pays the greater part of my pension income in retirement.)

      1. Alien8n

        Re: Expect very little commercial activity

        This is exactly what happened with The Voice. From memory the format is owned by an independent company that Will I Am has a very large stake in. From next year the show will air on ITV.

        The only hope is that with the shift to ITV the X Factor will finally get dropped...

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Expect very little commercial activity

          The Voice seems to have its origins in Netherlands and Endemol

          1. Alien8n

            Re: Expect very little commercial activity

            I believe you're right. Not sure where I picked up Will I Am holding a stake from, but it wouldn't surprise me, he has enough money he could buy Endemol if he wanted to. May just be a small stake in the UK production side of things, or some memory of an article that had some misleading "facts" about the show.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Expect very little commercial activity

              Two mentions of Endemol upvoted, not because I am an Endemol supporter, but because I approve of informed discussions. On which subject...

              Stephen Fry on the rollout of London's original sewer system:

              "It was the biggest civil engineering job ever undertaken, by this man Joseph Bazalgette, whose great great-grandson, oddly enough, now runs Endemol and is busy pumping shit back into our homes..."

      2. chrisf1

        Re: Expect very little commercial activity

        @commswonk But that's exactly the intent. There was little or no risk to the state funded BBC for novel content. What is a concern is if it then pays premium price for content and on screen talent that could be funded by the private sector, if anything too much of the output is risk free long run programming whereas it makes such a thing about needing a unique funding model to make novel content.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Expect very little commercial activity

          But that's exactly the intent. There was little or no risk to the state funded BBC for novel content.

          Firstly, whatever you might wish to think the BBC is not "state funded". The NHS is state funded; the BBC is funded by licence payers directly. It may be a distinction without a difference to some, but it is a distinction nonetheless.

          You are also incorrect in stating that there was "little or no risk to the BBC". The BBC commissioned "series 1", possibly with options on later series. Making the programmes cost real money; yours and mine. Had the programme failed dismally it would have been money wasted and possibly even left a big hole in the schedules if the viewing public's reception had been so bad that it had had to be pulled and something else put in its place.

          Expecting the BBC to develop new formats, etc, (at licence payer's expense), which if successful are then hived off to commercial channels who make money from advertising revenue is simply wrong.

          What incentive is there for the BBC to develop (potentially) worthwhile programmes if the reward for success is the loss of the programme to another broadcaster?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Expect very little commercial activity

            "Expecting the BBC to develop new formats, etc, (at licence payer's expense), which if successful are then hived off to commercial channels who make money from advertising revenue is simply wrong."

            FWIW, it's quite the opposite. The BBC isn't supposed to care about audience share and competing with commercial offerings. It's supposed to create the stuff that the commercial companies won't or can 't do. If those formats take off and become popular, shifting them off to the commercial channels is the natural progression. The BBC should be getting out of "talent" shows and the like unless they are inventing another new format. Same goes for reality shows.

            1. Commswonk Silver badge

              Re: Expect very little commercial activity

              The BBC isn't supposed to care about audience share and competing with commercial offerings. It's supposed to create the stuff that the commercial companies won't or can 't do. If those formats take off and become popular, shifting them off to the commercial channels is the natural progression.

              This still misses the point that the BBC has to risk licence payers' money to make "innovative" programmes. Then, if they suddenly become succesful, they lose the "right" to make those programmes; the BBC uses licence payers' money, which is effectively transferred to commercial television's shareholders and advertisers. It might work if the BBC is the rights owner of the programme, because it could then sell or licence those rights, but as in the originally cited case of GBBO the BBC is not the rights owner. "Licence Fee effectively creamed off to commercial television" is not a headline I want to see.

              Furthermore, to use a reductio ad absurdam argument it could be argued - quite legitimately using your idea - that success in making a programme could be measured by how few people watched it. I can't see many buying that argument, including the Ministry of Fun.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Expect very little commercial activity

                "This still misses the point that the BBC has to risk licence payers' money to make "innovative" programmes."

                Well, yes and no. Part of the BBC prime directive is to innovate and lead on broadcasting standards. Making new and popular programmes is part of that. Ending said programmes when they reach "end of life" and/or are "copied" to the similar or better standards by commercial operations drives the overall quality upwards. Without the BBC doing that we'd have a US style TV market with 10 minute ad breaks, ads on screen during the programme and lowest common denominator in most other aspects. The BBC have forgotten much of their reason for being and in some instances are copying the commercial outlets instead of leading.

                I'd also argue with your reductio ad absurdam paragraph and say that the opposite is true. Creating good, interesting and educational programmes is paramount, not more daytime chat shows and farcical game shows. Creating stuff people want to watch without dumbing down maintains and improves the standards. Chasing ratings while cutting costs is what leads to crap.

  3. Jason Hindle

    I think a paid service would only work

    If the BBC works with Channel 4 and ITV. I believe this has been discussed before, and effectively stopped because of complaints from Sky. Perhaps the current government is more receptive.

    Now, as a license fee payer, I'd like to watch iPlayer while abroad, without having to resort to VPN. Having to provide a username and password (to prove you've paid the licence fee) overcomes one barrier. I'm not so sure how much a of a barrier interests external to the BBC (e.g. rights holders) might present.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: I think a paid service would only work

      Isn't that more or less what YouView is, or at least was supposed to be? And look how well that one is doing after a few years on the market.

      Wholeheartedly agree on the iPlayer front, I have exactly the same gripe when I'm abroad on a business trip and either have to have remembered to download stuff first, or to use my VPN.

      Not to mention their current push to sell all of their shows on download or DVD just after they've aired them. Who was it that funded the production of these shows again?

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: I think a paid service would only work

        No, Youview is not POD. It's just catchup/streaming/time shifting.

        It may have other ideas, but it seems not much if any of the POD is there right now.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: I think a paid service would only work

      people who only view the BBC online, but who live in the UK, will now be obliged to pay for a TV licence

      I'm wondering how they expect this to work. The implication is that every licence-holder will be issued with a username and password that they're expected to enter using the TV remote control. Such a preposterous plan would require an expensive support network and could cut authorised iPlayer use by 90%.

      1. RealBigAl

        Re: I think a paid service would only work

        I imagine a mass mail shot to every household in the UK informing them they must buy a TV license as they can view BBC content on line. It'l be carefully worded to make it appear it's not optional.

        Old cynic...

      2. Why Fly

        Re: I think a paid service would only work

        I suspect it will be based upon detection rather than enforcement.

        Access logs will tell them the IP addresses of everyone using iPlayer, which they can map to an ISP and use geoip to get approximate location.

        The BBC already send threatening letters to anyone who doesn't have a license, on the assumption everyone watches TV. They could extend this to send out letters "reminding" anyone without a license within that approximate location.

        Maybe demand the ISP tell them which household had been assigned that IP address and take a few people to court to make examples of them.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I think a paid service would only work

          "The BBC already send threatening letters to anyone who doesn't have a license, on the assumption everyone watches TV. "

          I can assure you that they're just as happy sending threatening letters to people who DO have a license. On the basis that the same site listed twice in the postcode database must be 2 separate properties.

    3. Naselus

      Re: I think a paid service would only work

      "I believe this has been discussed before, and effectively stopped because of complaints from Sky. Perhaps the current government is more receptive."

      I can assure you the current government is completely receptive to all complaints from Sky, and any other Murdoch-owned enterprise.

    4. chrspy

      Re: I think a paid service would only work

      Uncle Rupe is quoted as saying "When I go to Downing Street they do what I say, when I go to Brussels they ignore me". Aside from the obvious implications for the referendum it also says that this government will not be "receptive" to anything that threatens Sky or what I have seen termed as Casa Rupra ......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think a paid service would only work

        "Uncle Rupe..."

        Bloody Americans, telling us how to vote in the referendum...

  4. mark 177
    WTF?

    OTT TV

    So the BBC will " launch a paid OTT TV service in the US".

    An over-the-top service? That doesn't sound like Auntie Beeb.

    Or does OTT mean something else? I'm none the wiser as the writer doesn't seem to want to explain this TLA (three letter abbreviation).

    1. Sir Barry

      Re: OTT TV

      In broadcasting, over-the-top content (OTT) is the delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet (according to Wikipedia)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OTT TV

        In broadcasting, according to Wikipedia, OTT was the adult-oriented follow on to the Saturday morning "childrens programme", Tiswas. Like Tiswas, it included Chris Tarrant, Lenny Henry, John Gorman, and Bob Carolgees. But no Sally James; Helen Atkinson-Wood instead.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.T.T.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: OTT TV

      "And it sees the US as the only viable place to charge for an OTT subscription, because everyone else there is doing it."

      Do other networks carry BBC content in the US apart from BBC America? If not, that's the reason why. The BBC live in fear of not offending local networks in case they decide not to buy any more BBC content, even if all they do with it is butcher it with dubbing, show it years later, and put it on at some silly time of night.

      And in the case of Wonders of the Solar System, Spanish state TV managed to buy some cheap international version of it without Brian Cox in it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Go

        Re: OTT TV

        Do other networks carry BBC content in the US apart from BBC America?

        Well, as I recall from my research, yes. CBeebies content tend to end up on PBSKids or NBC's Sprout. Also, Older BBC programming tend to show up on PBS as well.

    3. Graham Marsden
      Coat

      Re: OTT TV

      OTT was the "Adult version of Tiswas" presented by Chris Tarrant and Lenny Henry ;-)

  5. m0rt

    re: OTT TV

    "An over-the-top service? That doesn't sound like Auntie Beeb."

    You never watched the Glastonbury coverage?

    Unless it means Over T'interneT.

  6. AceRimmer1980
    Pirate

    Revenue from DVD Sales

    and how much of that was (note past tense) Top Gear?

  7. jaywin

    > It does not want to risk that $5.7bn by inflating the $1.2bn.

    I think they're far more worried about the licence fee being reduced if the commercial income goes up, and then being told to stop doing the commercial stuff because that should be left to the commercial sector, leaving yet another gaping hole in the budget.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It does not want to risk that $5.7bn by inflating the $1.2bn.

    So we are back again to the moronic "Spend all your budget or ypou wont get the same next year" philosophy again.

  9. IsJustabloke
    Meh

    I have no problem...

    ... with the licence per se but I do think that iPlayer should be restricted to "authorised users" *every* other service has an "authorised user" interface. I can't just fire up Amazon and watch their stuff for free just because it happens to be an online streaming service. Why should I or anyone be able to do so with the iplayer? I pay for a licence, I'm already authenticated, all iPlayer has to do is ask me to prove it.

  10. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    $5.7bn

    Or $ 5700 million

    Or $ 5 700 000 000

    That's quite a lot of money to piss away every year. Must take some effort.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: That's quite a lot of money to piss away every year. Must take some effort.

      Paying news readers obscene amounts of money doesn't help:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/20/bbc-presenters-angry-as-top-actors-avoid-salary-disclosure/

      1. Andy 97

        Re: re: That's quite a lot of money to piss away every year. Must take some effort.

        What do you think Sky, ITV and the other pay their presenters? In buttons?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: That's quite a lot of money to piss away every year. Must take some effort.

          There are thousands of people who could perform the presenters role for a fraction of the cost incurred currently. What Sky, ITV and anyone else pays is irrelevant, it's whether the customer is getting value for money. Currently, he's not.

          Presenters are about style rather than content. Unfortunately, the people providing the content will be sacrificed first when it comes to job cuts.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to go

    Please, phase out the licence fee and sell the bbc.

    1. Andy 97

      Re: Time to go

      Blimey, AP, NI and Barkley Brother PR teams are hard at work today.

  12. PKIsTheGreatest

    This Is Why The Americans Win

    This is why the Americans win.

    Because they have vision. Business set to conquer the world. BBC does the opposite. BBC has a negative vision of business as usual, of staying in the safety of the UK harbor. While the airwaves are slowly colonized by the greater power from overseas.

    You used to be Great. Grow your f***ing balls back on.

    1. jaywin

      Re: This Is Why The Americans Win

      The BBC is increasingly being prevented not only from looking outwards from the UK though, but also to reign in it's ambitions within the UK.

      This week we've seen the closure of the travel, local news, youth news and food websites, all well used (and defended) services*. This is a direct result of too much government meddling - firstly by specifiying in too much detail where the BBC budget should be spent, secondly by demanding the BBC stops trying to compete with their commercial opposition. Unless the BBC is freed up to do as it, and it's audience, want, there's no chance of it growing it's balls back. Instead the pieces are being placed for a breakup and sale when it's decreed that it no longer justifies any Licence Fee because it's not making what the audience want and use.

      * Strange there was nothing mentioned about these closures on this site, even if it was another Orlowski Licence Fee bashing...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This Is Why The Americans Win

      In a survey most young men reported they didn't feel very masculine.

      Lets face it, being masculine is either oppressing women, or in fact worse than rape.

      I've been assured too, that homosexuality is 'the most manly thing you can do'

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. JustNiz

    I'm an ex-pat Englishman now living in the US.

    I grep up with the BBC and was always proud of the role that it played globally: they were known the world over as being synonymous for high quality programming and very professional, very unbiased news reporting.

    I have lately been very disappointed to witness the obvious ongoing massive decline of standards that I can't even take the BBC seriously as an institution any more.

    I started to realise the BBC are now run by a bunch of radically Leftie PeeCee hippies when it was clear that they were out to find any way to kill off by far their most profitable and globally successful show ever (Top Gear) just for daring to appeal to men that still had testicles. And now far worse, decades of unbiassed, professional standards of reporting have clearly gone out the window, BBC News America obviously now has a pro-Labour bias, and has also pretty much become just a platform for Katty Kay's personal feminazi agenda and an anti-Trump campaign.

    1. ShadowDragon8685
      Facepalm

      Top Gear died because Clarkson couldn't keep his fists from flying in a moment of frustration.

      It's pretty simple, really: you punch a coworker, you get the sack; you're lucky not to land in the dock. I mean, I was pissed off and saddened to hear it, too, but on the other hand...

      Do YOU want to work at some kind of place of employment where a Big Name VIP worker is literally allowed to get away with a violent assault upon a No Name (like yourself) because they're upset?

      There's nobody to blame for the death of Top Gear as we knew it but Jeremy Clarkson. Frankly, I'd expect that BBC senior personnel were shitting bricks at the time, trying to figure out "Okay, is there ANY way we can avoid sacking Clarkson without transparently saying that you can get away with fracas if you're a big name presenter? Anyone got any ideas at all? No? Nothing? Nobody? Is there any way we can publicly punish him besides sacking him? Any old statuette we can drag out to have him flogged in public instead of sacked?

      No? Nothing? Not a thing? Okay, is there any way Top Gear can go on without him? Clarkson's the lovable jackass, but we've still got May and Hammond, can we - oh, no, they're all mates with a unique on-screen chemistry and May and Hammond won't do more than finish presenting a truncated season without him? Right. Right, okay, pour me a gin and tonic, not too much tonic, and pass me that button - yes, the red one. The one with the "smash in case of emergency" glass over it, the one that's bright red and reads 'PANIC,' there's a good chap. Could we possibly cannibalize Top Gear US and Australia - oh, no, they're both hated by the people who love Classic Top Gear, even in their home countries? Okay, crazy ideas time - Sabine Schmidt has been on Top Gear a few times and Clarkson joked about offering her a job. Would she take one? Somebody get her on the phone; we are hereby in crisis mode, lads: no idea is too crazy to entertain if it stands a chance in hell of keeping Top Gear rolling."

      And that's how a German motorsports driver wound up presenting Top Gear. Top Gear didn't die because of any liberal PC bias, it died because Jeremy Clarkson let his fists express his frustration and that's the kind of thing you tend to get the sack for, whether you're a famous television presenter or some bloke what works down the back of a fish'n'chips stall carrying sacks of frozen chips to the deep fryer.

  15. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    the BBC's employees are (certainly were) vetted by mi5, who at one point had their man on the premises. this gives the lie to any talk of bbc impartiality: the beeb has always been the voice of the establishment.

    for further confirmation, see if you can find the video of the grovelling apology made by some bbc suits to the government after Greg dyke was defenestrated, it's truly embarrassing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BBC's employees are (certainly were) vetted by mi5,

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1522875/Revealed-how-the-BBC-used-MI5-to-vet-thousands-of-staff.html 2 Jul 2006

      ...

      the BBC allowed MI5 to investigate the backgrounds and political affiliations of -thousands of its employees, including newsreaders, reporters and continuity announcers.

      The files, which shed light on the BBC's hitherto secret links with the Security Service, show that at one stage it was responsible for vetting 6,300 different BBC posts - almost a third of the total workforce.

      They also confirm that the corporation held a list of "subversive organisations" and that evidence of certain kinds of political activity could be a bar to appointment or promotion.

      The BBC's reliance on MI5 reached a peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s at exactly the same time as millions of viewers were tuning into the fictional adventures of George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and -Smiley's People.

      ...

      And again in 2010

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8712000/8712553.stm

  16. Bruce Ordway

    BBC in the US

    License fee or commercials? You might consider yourselves lucky.

    I am pretty sure that a system like yours will never be duplicated anywhere else in the world. It certainly would not fly here in the US. The levels of commercial times have become obscene over here.

    And I still remember my first viewing of show like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or Monty Python. These were almost life changing experiences. So much 'different' and better than anything I'd seen on our network TV.

    Unfortunately access to BBC content remains limited here. Choose between PBS or the BBC channel if you have a cable subscription.

    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Fall, Utopia, etc... you're welcome to bring them on over any time.

  17. Old Handle
    Paris Hilton

    So basically the BBC exists to keep the TV license fee going, rather than the other way around?

    1. itzman
      FAIL

      Re: The BBC exists ...

      The BBC exists to keep the TV license fee going, rather than the other way around?

      All stable systems that persist in time exist initially because conditions are favourable, and continue to persist long past their sell by date, because they haven't proved to be so dysfunctional that they die an (unnatural and horrible) death.

      The BBC no longer performs any useful function beyond a political mouthpiece for a narrow clique of left wing media luvvies, but it hasn't yet got to the stage of complete putrefaction that would allow a 'national institution' to be euthanased.

      And it still provides a limited service for necrophiliacs.

    2. evilhippo

      Upvoted... but expect a lot of down votes for stating the obvious.

  18. itzman
    IT Angle

    I used to build model aeroplanes with Britflix..

    Or was that Britfix?

    Never mind. Senility beckons, and all I can say is that it was more fun than watching the BBC, especially as the cellulose paints both dried quickly, and gave off 'interesting' fumes...

  19. Andrew Richards

    The Beeb is damned either way...

    I think it's less a case of "not rocking the boat" and more of trying to do anything in an environment where it will get a kicking for doing it.

    The Murdoch press in the UK is unsurprisingly rabidly anti-BBC, as is the Daily Mail. (Amusingly the most balanced reporting the latter managed recently was its coverage of Top Gear in Argentina: it couldn't - as usual bash the BBC because that might have sided with the other side.) The current government is a general threat to it too.

    It's a shame it can't just get on with what's it's doing and be left to it. It's unusual for any form of media to be as self-scrutinising as the BBC (how negative was the phone hacking coverage on Sky?) The last BBC DG left over the Saville programme largely because he was given such a hard time on the Today programme.

    Surely a lot of all of this come down to "license fee? boo! I don't watch Strictly!" and ignores the other output which is well worth the money and wouldn't exist commercially (Radio 3/4, 6 Music).

  20. Thursbitch

    It's Murdoch, stupid

    So i'm churning out turd after turd passing for "popular" TV while the BBC is producing award-winning dramas, cutting-edge documentaries and independent, hard-hitting news (or as independent as you can get in a country whose leaders have been competing for Rupert's favour since the 90s). What'dye do? Obviously, tell the government to hobble the BBC by strangling its public funding in the hope of establishing a "level playing field" by which News International means - pond-life programming (see: When Good Broadcasters Turn Bad - Season 8).

  21. evilhippo

    The people wailing about "interference" are confused: the BBC *is* a political creature, how can it not be? It is funded by taxes coercively taken from people who watch TV even if they NEVER watch the BBC, so why should anyone expect such an body to be above politics? The BBC is part of the state, because of how it is funded and set up.

    Just abolish this ludicrous anachronism completely and the problem goes away.

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