Yesterday’s announcement that the BBC is to be forced to share some of the licence fee to help rollout universal broadband and fund regional news and UK-originated children’s TV drew the predictable protests from the corporation’s in-house ‘regular’, the BBC Trust.
The tragedy is, the decision was only possible because BBC bosses, including the trust, have become deaf to the complaints and grumbles of ordinary licence fee payers and frittered money away with no regard for the institution they were entrusted with.
Complain about excessive violence in EastEnders and you get fobbed off with some meaningless platitude.
Voice an opinion on the overt dumbing down of the news and you’re ignored, BBC bosses seemingly unable to comprehend that those who want news on Big Brother or Pete and Katie’s separation can get it anywhere but those wanting serious and weighty news can’t and are the very audience which sustained BBC news for decades.
It is, you’re told, necessary to ensure the news is “accessible” to everyone. At the BBC “accessible” is increasingly defined and cheap and shallow.
If you don’t buy into some of the more extreme claims about BBC per issues such as climate change you’re expected to quietly sit and watch as public money is used to promote one contested view over another. All nuance is stripped away from the issue. How on earth they ever thought the (eventually dropped) ‘Planet Relief’ was compatible with the legal requirement for impartiality is still unclear.
But these were minor breaches of the trust between the BBC and its funders when compared to the vast sums wasted in creating millionaires of presenters and newsreaders. The shows fronted by most of the top earners have no re-sale value, no merchandising value and no repeat possibilities. But that economic reality didn’t stop the BBC from paying ‘talent’ sums of money unimaginable to the majority of those compelled to fund it and bleat about “the market” whenever it was questioned on the issue.
Finally it seems the madness of paying ‘autocuties’ more than we pay nurses, teachers or lawmakers has become clear even to BBC bosses but, sadly, it’s too late.
With the story of MPs expenses, which the BBC helped raise the temperature of with rolling 24 hour repetition of, now fizzling out the smart money has to be on the BBC being the next subject to go under the microscope. Unlike past battles, few will rush to its aid.