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Admit it: even to think of privatising the BBC is the secular equivalent of the sin against the Holy Ghost. And yet there are compelling reasons why, as a society, we should rid ourselves, as efficiently as possible, of this over-mighty institution.

Economically, selling off all, or a large part, of the BBC would be extremely beneficial to Britain. It is a unique broadcasting organisation with a superb global brand, as well as completely dominating non-print media within the UK itself. The benefit to the Exchequer during its struggle to repay the national debt would be enormous.

Quite how enormous is impossible to judge precisely. But consider that Rupert Murdoch's bid for the 65 per cent of BSkyB that he does not already own values the broadcaster at £12 billion. BSkyB is a minnow when set against the commercial potential of the BBC — £100 billion, even £200 billion, would be easily achievable in the colossally lucrative world populated by expanding media corporations such as Google and Facebook. As someone who a couple of years ago sold his own small but well-positioned media company for twice what my advisers had expected, I know that media buyers will pay well above traditional valuations for good businesses with attractive brands.

The economic consequences for Britain and its people would be positive, to put it mildly. Broadcasting, news gathering, web publication, drama and comedy would be liberated from a massive monopolist divorced from commercial reality. At present, it is almost impossible for a radio, TV or web-content producer to compete with the BBC, as the weakness of independent television, radio and newspaper web publishing amply demonstrates. And don't forget the licence fee, a hypothecated, regressive tax of £145.50 per household: that's around one per cent of the pre-tax earnings of the lowest-paid tenth of the population.

But the wider consequences of selling off the BBC in its current bloated form would be even more beneficial than the obvious economic gains. The BBC has come to dominate political and social discourse to a degree that chokes off rational discussion. This is not just to do with its soft-liberal, politically-correct outlook and editorial line, though it is certainly that. The very existence of a dominant national broadcaster, whatever its outlook, stifles debate on anything contentious or unsettling to vested interests. The BBC is particularly unwilling to question the existence or direction of other bloated British institutions, such as the NHS or the education system, both enormously expensive and inefficient. It defaults to the idea that if there is a problem, then government should fix it. More widespread and open debate than we have had for decades would lead to a dynamic Britain, more of whose citizens would expect to work to cope with personal and national challenges.

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Magnus Grimond
April 17th, 2015
5:04 PM
I assume that what people who think this way yearn for is a media dominated by Richard Desmond, The Daily Mail and Fox News, all bastions of balance and the free expression of every shade of opinion. I wonder if the Daily Mail's daily diatribe against the Labour Party is the way they would like us to go?

Robin Tudge
March 13th, 2011
4:03 PM
The BBC delivers £2 to the economy for every pound of licence fee. www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/mar/13/bbc-delivers-two-pounds-to-economy-...

Robert Willoughby
December 19th, 2010
8:12 PM
>Admit it: even to think of privatising the BBC is the secular equivalent of the sin against the Holy Ghost. And yet there are compelling reasons why, as a society, we should rid ourselves, as efficiently as possible, of this over-mighty institution. Economically, selling off all, or a large part, of the BBC would be extremely beneficial to Britain. It is a unique broadcasting organisation with a superb global brand, as well as completely dominating non-print media within the UK itself. The benefit to the Exchequer during its struggle to repay the national debt would be enormous. Selling anything reaps instant cash, yes. But how did the BBC brand come to hold such mighty wield worldwide? Did this success come from being in the private sector? Quite how enormous is impossible to judge precisely. Then don’t do it. >But consider that Rupert Murdoch's bid for the 65 per cent of BSkyB that he does not already own values the broadcaster at £12 billion. BSkyB is a minnow when set against the commercial potential of the BBC — £100 billion, even £200 billion, would be easily achievable in the colossally lucrative world populated by expanding media corporations such as Google and Facebook. Not really comparing like with like, though. Google is a search engine, Facebook is a global social networking system. As a pair, they’re two halves of modern global surveillance – cutesy Facebook uploading, retaining and selling whatever its users seek to disseminate, often at their own peril, while Google provides for the world to see all the rest of the data about individuals, over which they have no control. For the BBC to move into those fields might be good for the sake of competition, but could as well be a waste of time. Sky’s share of TV reflects its atrocious program making. Sky Sports isn’t bad because sports broadcasting involves little significant editorial direction – ‘there’s a game, film it’. In the US however FOX has managed to make an impact in hate-raking demagoguery that seeks only to crushing debate and dissent with smears and lies and create violent discord within American society, selling itself as a patriotic newscaster that stirs its viewers into the rabid persecution of fellow citizens and random foreigners and supporting self-destructive wars – the consequences of which News Corp takes no responsibility because it’s a globalised corporation and the US is, incidentally for now, its primary profit base. With commercial and political power shifting to China, so are News Corp’s loyalties. For here, for now, Murdoch has traduced the London Times to a press-release printer, while the Sun fattens voters’ heads with hate, tits and beer. BBC1 engages in cheap reality-TV dross and game shows because that’s the level of competition its up against with ITV, but the BBC’s size and access to resource enables it to produce stuff to fill BBC2 and BBC4 and all its radio stations. >As someone who a couple of years ago sold his own small but well-positioned media company for twice what my advisers had expected, I know that media buyers will pay well above traditional valuations for good businesses with attractive brands. The economic consequences for Britain and its people would be positive, to put it mildly. Broadcasting, news gathering, web publication, drama and comedy would be liberated from a massive monopolist divorced from commercial reality. At present, it is almost impossible for a radio, TV or web-content producer to compete with the BBC, as the weakness of independent television, radio and newspaper web publishing amply demonstrates. The divorce from commercial reality charge isn’t strictly true, programs like Top Gear are massive global earners that also afford the BBC to make good drama and quality. ITV used to more than compete with the BBC to produce quality programming, making excellent drama and news and documentaries, (World in Action, This Week Next Week, Weekend World, even the London Program) before someone decided the bottom line was the editorial line and News at Ten became as trans-fat-headed as the Daily Star while documentaries can’t be made without Coleen Rooney’s mug nailed on them. ITV’s past shows that a privatized BBC does not have to become a skip-on-wheels like ITV has done, but there is a very good chance of it happening. The stuff worth watching on Freeview is stuff made by the BBC or ITV. Why risk that? And the BBC does not dominate either the radio or the Internet news – these two media are precisely where plurality can and does exist – two blokes with a microphone and a telephone, or a charoom or a blog -> enough debate to fill anyone’s boots – and the views found in such places are as broad and apposite to any centralised BBC mindset. And don't forget the licence fee, a hypothecated, regressive tax of £145.50 per household: that's around one per cent of the pre-tax earnings of the lowest-paid tenth of the population. But the wider consequences of selling off the BBC in its current bloated form would be even more beneficial than the obvious economic gains. Ill-defined though the scale of those benefits be. People only pay for Sky for its sports. No-one in their right mind would pay for ITV. >The BBC has come to dominate political and social discourse to a degree that chokes off rational discussion. This is not just to do with its soft-liberal, politically-correct outlook and editorial line, though it is certainly that. The very existence of a dominant national broadcaster, whatever its outlook, stifles debate on anything contentious or unsettling to vested interests. The BBC is particularly unwilling to question the existence or direction of other bloated British institutions, such as the NHS or the education system, both enormously expensive and inefficient. It defaults to the idea that if there is a problem, then government should fix it. Since 1979, there is nothing that governments either Tory or Labour have not sought to privatize and outsource at every level, very much including education and the NHS, riddling them with consultants who cost millions of pounds to report on how to save a few thousand by sacking taxpayers. If the BBC manages to raise a voice against that, that is worthy debate which nonetheless seems to have achieved little in braking whatever the gang in Downing St choose to do on the day, or is told to do by Washington, Brussels or the City – or anybody else that no-one in this country voted for. If the BBC’s default is somehow that the government should fix it (well, they are paid to do a job) the government has long since decided it should do anything but. That some bizarre consensus has infected the minds of nearly every MP of the last 30 years that profit should over-ride all and every other consideration of moral or ethical governance, public or private, is not the fault of the BBC. In any case News Corps’ dominance of the newspaper industry has had a far, far greater impact on this country’s political direction and devaluing the essence and power of its social discourse. Or X Factor. And that’s ITV. >More widespread and open debate than we have had for decades would lead to a dynamic Britain, more of whose citizens would expect to work to cope with personal and national challenges. If the UK has fallen ill under the delusion of some kind of sloth-inducing dependence on state welfare - like the banks or firms that have wangled PFI contracts – how is that the fault of the BBC? If the BBC is already so dominating, how would selling it solve that? Surely the BBC would only be a worthy buy if it is to continue to grow – expanding its domineering presence from the UK to the world? Maybe selling would silence its mealy-mouthed liberal voice, but at the same time dumps debate, insightful news or investigative journalism by catering to the lowest common denominator? All geese leave shit and feathers around. But all the world seems to know that the BBC lays golden eggs. How that has come to pass, you don’t explain, but you’re willing to sell it for foie gras to placate a load of benefit-scrounging bankers

Riaz Ahmad
October 17th, 2010
4:10 PM
Robert has presented the picture quite well through his own experience. BBC is to UK as Pravda was to the Soviet Union; organizations that brainwashed people with the purpose of creating a uniform complaint mindset.

Riaz Ahmad
October 1st, 2010
8:10 PM
Absolutely a splendid Idea. I would love to give the equivelent amount of my licence fee to a poor soul in the third world. Even this insignificant amount will double his/her dollar a day earnings; a significant increase.

Robert
October 1st, 2010
5:10 PM
I lived and worked abroad for 7 years returning to the UK in 2009. I had never been politically inclined and had never given the BBC's bias a second thought because it was all I had known for 30 years. In fact I was a firm supporter of the BBC and I could never understand why some people didnt like it...nasty people I used to think. While I was abroad I began to notice some things about news output and thought some if it seemed rather strange. It wasnt what I was used to. They would allow people with opposing views speak, they would cover all points of view, and there was something quite honest about it. But surely theyjust have it all wrong I thought, I mean their not the wonderful BBC. However, for the most part I didnt really pay much attention to it and just got on with my life but I do recognise now that being abroad had totally opened up my mind. Anyway, when I returned to the UK it was absolutely shocking how biased the BBC were. Reality totally hit me what this organisation were all about and I suddenly realised the organisation has been a massive influence on my entire outlook for the 30 years I lived in the UK. But not only that I realised that this massive organisation had in fact been brainwashing me for 30 years and their doing it every day to millions of people who have never been fortunate to live in other countries, and experience a life away from the BBC. As I got on with life in the Uk it also became quite obvious that most people I knew had their outlook formed by the BBC, in fact they just repeat what the BBC state. You know those pub conversations when amateur politics is discussed. I dont blame the people of course, they dont know any different. But never the less it has become maddeningly frustrating to try and point out to friends other views only to see their eyes glaze over. Then I just have to remind my self they have been utterly subdued and brainwashed. Since returning to the UK I have tried to make sense of it all. I have done so much reading the past few years which has been good on one hand, but also bad in the sense that it often leaves more questions unanswered. But do it I must, and will because only I can educate my self. I never ever thought in my wildest dreams I would support the abolition of the BBC. But now I absolutely would welcome it. My motives would not be economical although I see clearly how they hurt every commercial broadcaster out there who can never compete with them. I see the BBCs end as the only way the people of this country will ever be allowed to think for themselves and be free from relentless propaganda. But this I believe is the real crux of the matter as to why none of our politicians would ever support such an action. They are perfectly happy to see an entire population dumbed down and kept in the dark. Wake up people of Britain. for your childrens sake, and their childrens..

A Nonny Mouse
September 30th, 2010
12:09 PM
The sooner it's flogged off, the better. And if the Tory party haven't gut the guts to rid our nation of this foul and bloated monstrosity, then they deserve everything the the BBC will inevitably hurl at them.

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