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CB: What would you do without it?

CM: You're right that I think a lot of Radio 4 is valuable — not just valuable, but valuable in a unique way. I haven't really seen that replicated in any other form of radio. That might also be true of Radio 3.

CB: It is true of Radio 3.

CM: Yes, but if you maintain the view that the BBC has to try to do everything, you constantly refuse to think about what would happen if it didn't do everything but if it did some things. If it were to do some things that we can all be proud of, then it couldn't be financed in the same way, because it would be wrong to take money from everyone compulsorily for a much narrower range of things. However, it might be considered less wrong if the BBC took less money. I mean, if the licence fee were halved, the indignation against paying it would obviously reduce and perhaps give you breathing space. So I would like to try and start the argument about what to do next. 

If Radio 4 is a treasured institution, as I think it is, isn't it about time that we started thinking seriously about how that could be funded in a way which was not unfair for other reasons?

For example, is there a form of subscription that it could be funded by, in which it was encrypted and you could listen to it that way, rather like the airwaves equivalent of the National Trust? Or could the listeners to Radio 4 tolerate free riders? Could we just agree to contribute to the annual cost, broken down individually, even though we knew that lots of people would listen to it for free? This is, after all, what happens already, but we'd have to do it by agreement rather than by legal compulsion. I'd like to start all those type of arguments, because most of the BBC is not particularly distinguishable as the BBC. If you turn on the TV, most of the programmes are very much the same you might get anywhere else.

CB: I absolutely disagree. If you take a look at today's schedule, if you look at what's on BBC 1 and 2, it is quite different to that which is on ITV or Sky — quite different and better, more orginal, more eclectic and of a higher quality, doing things in peak time that the other broadcasters simply wouldn't do.

CM: I don't agree with that, and I don't really agree with the point that's often made in the comparison that it's so rotten in the US — it seems to me not so obviously true.

CB: Then you and I have real difficulty arguing, because if you think that American TV would produce a better outcome for the viewer and listener in the UK, then I'm sorry for you. I hope that your views receive no currency.

CM: Thank you for your sympathy, Christopher.

CB: It's heartfelt.

CM: But the point is partly about cost. There is no model of a wonderful television set-up in any country in the world. You're right that one of the consequences of what I'm talking about will be more bad things. But it will also be more good things. This whole idea that there can only be a certain amount, and that therefore it's very important that some wise and good people have power over this amount, is both an oppressive and an out-of-date idea. No one thinks this about books. Once upon a time, books were controlled by the Catholic Church, by State licence to print, by the difficulties of the actual physical object that printed the book, by the cost of getting the leather and the paper, and the rest of it. Now there are books, books, books. And a huge proportion of them is crap, and some of them are marvellous, and it's free — it's a medium which is at liberty to do what it wants. That's even more true of the internet. And it's true, because of the increasingly low cost of technology, of television.

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jose
December 22nd, 2009
4:12 AM
is that guy trying to demostrate the BBC is not liberal?

Sue
October 15th, 2009
11:10 AM
When are so called conservatives going to stand up and speak the truth to and about the likes of Russ Limbaugh and the other raving-loonies who are now the public face of the GOP in the USA.

Valentinus
October 12th, 2009
10:10 PM
IIt is always much better when Charles Moore's strange views about the BBC are out in the open rather than working corrosively and without scrutiny to undermine public service broadcasting. When he is subject to proper examination, the transparent ideological bias of his position is routinely and drearily exposed. There is a simple task for Charles Moore: Charles, close thy Telegraph and open thy Radio Times. Do what I do. Take about 1 hour on a Saturday morning and look, just look, at what you get for your license fee over the course of 7 days. Then look us straight in the eye and try telling us that we can get this cornucopia of culture, sport, news, drama, music, current affairs and entertainment for anything like that cost base and efficiency. In fact, Charles, we can't get it at all, even if we paid ten times the license fee. My father pays the equivalent of my license fee for three months of a couple of Sky Sports and movie channels, nothing more. I might have said the equivalent of HIS license fee, but he is over 75 and gets the BBC (all of it) for nothing. Yes, nothing. And you know? Two thirds of what he watches, listens to and enjoys never comes near me. And three quarters of what I watch, listen to and enjoy never goes near him. Welcome to the BBC. I have noticed, in short, a common thread among anti-BBC ideologues: they don't actually know what's on. This seems a curious position from which to attack anything and explains why they need daft episodes such as L'Affair Ross on which to hang their opposition. I do wonder if guys like Charles actually know this deep down and that's why they evade it. For dull cultureless people with year-round tans like the Murdochs it is in a sense a much more honest conflict: their implacable hatred of the BBC originates in the obstacle public sector broadcasting presents to the expansion of their wealth and global power. But my advice to Murdoch Junior would be the same: close they Friedman, open thy Radio Times. I guarantee you'll find something to assuage the unbearable lightness of being. And it will probably cost you about 14p. As for the rest of the so-called argument? Bring it on.

IC
September 27th, 2009
5:09 PM
It is not surprising that the BBC's head of comedy is gloomy. Most BBC "comedy" programmes nowadays are puerile or revolting, without wit or humour - compare these with the shows that the BBC used to make, or the sharp US comedies shown on other channels.

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