Is it the BBC’s fault that Bargain Hunt is so popular?

I have a confession to make. I watch BBC’s antiques competition, Bargain Hunt, three times a week. Perversely, I watch it with the volume turned down, reading the sub-titles (I’m on the treadmill in the gym at the time).

It’s a strange programme, because, as my lifelong auctioneer father often says, in exasperation:

They’re going the wrong way!

What he means is, that prices are lower at auctions than flea markets/boot sales. So, if you buy some things at an auction, you can earn good money on them at a boot sale. But if you go the other way, you are often on a hiding to nothing.

Which, I suppose, makes the programme exciting. In the rare event that a competitor makes a profit, you do feel that they have really achieved something special.

And I can’t resist mentioning that Tim Wonnacott (who has been the regular presenter but it is now being, very slowly, phased out) went to my school, a few years before me.

Anyway, the reason for writing about this staple of the BBC 1 daytime schedules is because it has been mentioned in dispatches. Apparently:

It encapsulates much of what culture secretary John Whittingdale thinks is wrong with BBC1.

The recent white paper on the BBC mentioned that Bargain Hunt is in its 43rd series, which when considered alongside other “old faithful” property and collectibles programmes, also on the channel in the daytime, means that BBC1 has become “less innovative and risk-taking”.

Here’s the thing. A repeat episode of Bargain Hunt last week, shown at lunchtime, was seen by 1.75 million viewers, compared with 1.5 million for the flagship drama, Peaky Blinders, shown at 9pm.

So, in 2000, the BBC created an interesting and entertaining programme on antiques. People loved it and watched it in droves, so they kept on making it and people kept on loving it and watching it. And that is a problem?

Perhaps the problem is that Bargain Hunt is shown alongside a succession of long-running shows such as “Homes under the Hammer”. But similarly, “Homes under the Hammer” is an interesting and entertaining programme which people love and watch in droves.

So why is making popular programmes a problem? Especially as, at the same time as Bargain Hunt, the BBC is broadcasting all sorts of worthy and fascinating programmes on other TV channels, radio stations and via iPlayer?

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • So why is making popular programmes a problem?

    Because if a programme is popular, then why does it need to be subsidised by the license fee? If it’s popular, it could be made by a commercial broadcaster for a profit, and then there would be more of the license fee available to spend on ‘worthy and fascinating programmes’ which would be commercially unviable and therefore need the subsidy more.

  • because Dav it is the popular programmes that bring people to the channel and introduce them to the other programmes that they might easily not otherwise have noticed. It is a balance between being popular to justify being there at all and broad enough to fulfil your obligations, a balance that the BBC has to hold in tension, its remit is to entertain as well as to inform and educate, and having lived abroad on several occasions in my life, I am hugely thankful for what we have and many friends overseas are very envious too…

  • Barry Snelson 23rd May '16 - 2:36pm

    Well said Dav,
    It is utterly infamous that I am mugged every year to pay for this mindless rubbish. If Paul Walter likes it why can’t he consider paying for it himself. The licence fee is a legal right conferred on one group of TV addicts to steal from their next door neighbours.

  • Barry Snelson 23rd May '16 - 2:39pm

    And by the way Paul, your figures reveal that over 65 million of us ignored your Bargain Hunt altogether (but still paid up).

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd May '16 - 3:29pm

    In what way do these programmes achieve the stated aims to inform, educate & entertain in a way that is superior to commercial television channels? Are they just cheap to make and used as padding?

    Dealers who I have spoken to ( when they won’t accept an offer for something from me or other members of the general public ), tell me that they let things go for less than they would if the programme were not televised because it brings them in a lot of trade.

    If I didn’t pay my licence fee, maybe I could afford their ‘bottom line’ prices.

  • David Brenton 23rd May '16 - 4:43pm

    It is true that the BBC license fee is expensive in a one-off payment, but at £12 a month i think it is very reasonable compared with my sky subscription of £50+. Just as a matter of comparison. It costs the BBC a fixed proportion of the license fee to put on “Strictly”, yet if ITV televise X factor, they can jack up the cost of adverts and rake in the cash, which is hardly fair. I pay a lot of money for sky sports, yet I still get saddled with ads. The value of the advertising budgets from Tesco, Sainsburys et al gets passed on to the consumer and we get saddled with it. On the whole I think we have a good deal with the BBC.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd May '16 - 4:48pm

    @ Paul,
    The point Paul is that ITV make these sort of programmes better which is why they have some comparatively small audiences. As for them being popular, you may watch them whilst cycling, but when did you last settle down in a chair in excited expectation that the programme would be coming on?

    I am guilty of bolstering the viewing figures because sometimes I have them playing whilst I am busy doing something interesting and can’t be bothered to turn the thing off. As far as I am concerned, they are in the same class of entertainment as background musak.

    If you think that I am being snobbish using the term ‘superior’, may I say I went to a school that neither your parents nor Tim Wonnacott’s might have considered for their offspring, and I find the programmes extremely patronising to those who might for many reasons find themselves watching day time television. “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”.

    Research has shown that the BBC has become ‘less innovative and risk- taking”. So what are we paying for?

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd May '16 - 4:50pm

    Sorry,I meant to say they had comparatively larger audiences.

  • Barry Snelson 23rd May '16 - 4:54pm

    Hi Paul,
    There are no arguments to defend the BBC
    “It’s popular!” – this is a popularity that relies on the threat of prison if its customers disagree.
    “It’s the envy of the world!” – no one has been envious enough to copy it.
    “It sells its programmes to other countries!” – then it doesn’t need to steal from the long suffering British.
    “It makes programmes that others wouldn’t” – i.e. self indulgent rubbish watched by almost no one.

    You ask “So you don’t watch or listen or look online at the BBC at all Barry?” displaying the absolute arrogance of the BBC and those who support its legalised theft. You can’t conceive that others don’t like its dreadful pomposity and enjoy other media channels. (That we choose to pay for). Despite the luvvies eternal cry that “the world would have been denied my wonderful talents if it wasn’t for the BBC!” we have a culture secretary (at last) that is putting measures quietly in place that will lead to this dinosaur’s long deserved extinction.

  • David Brenton’
    Are you forced by law to pay for Sky even if you never watch it? Whatever way you try to put a spin on it, the licence fee is a regressive Tax on watching live broadcasts imposed by legal threats, snooping, underhand tactics and nuisance calls amongst other charming acts of intimidation. We’re not talking about a vital service,. We’re talking about a middling entertainment network that sometimes acts as a borderline propaganda news outlet for whoever is in power at any particular time.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd May '16 - 7:26pm

    I stand by what I said Paul. I made no comment about wealth. My teachers bought me presents when I passed eleven plus, so unique was the experience for them. If any scholarships were available, the staff had long since given up on passing on the information to parents, much as some Oxbridge tutors complain that there are some schools that not encourage their pupils to apply for their colleges.

    However, when proclaiming a programme to be popular as judged by vieweing figures, I am unsure whether one is correct to compare day time figures with viewing figures at peak viewing times such as 9 pm when the channels seem to be in ruthless competition for viewers.

    More importantly, is the BBC chasing popularity or innovation and quality of output where there is a divergence between the two? What is it that differentiates it from other broadcasters?

  • David Brenton 23rd May '16 - 9:01pm

    Glenn. I am obviously not forced to use sky, but sadly, most of the sports seem to be going on to it, (not counting the “crown jewels” obviously). I actually quite like the license fee system. I don’t see it as a regressive tax, more of a fee for services rendered. You seem to have issues with being asked whether you have a license, a little personal experience perhaps? I have never had issues with paying taxes. We live in a society where services have to be paid for. I am sure you have sometimes watched or listened to a BBC service, whatever you might say now, so perhaps you should pay your dues.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd May '16 - 9:09pm

    @ Paul,

  • Barry Snelson 23rd May '16 - 9:42pm

    David and Paul,
    The message is simple. You like it, you pay for it. What earthly justification can you find for taking money from your neighbours for your own viewing pleasure?

    I accept we have a duty to pay for services like the police and health.

    But, come on boys, D-list celebrities learning the cha-cha-cha? I have a moral obligation to pay out for that?

    I believe we should help those who are not able to help themselves but there are no people, on earth, more ready to help themselves than the BBC’s management and celebrities.

  • @Dav
    “Because if a programme is popular, then why does it need to be subsidised by the license fee? If it’s popular, it could be made by a commercial broadcaster for a profit”

    You do realise there’s no law against the commercial broadcasters making popular programmes? Yet strangely they don’t seem very good at it – the BBC is by far the most popular broadcaster.

    @Barry Snelson
    “There are no arguments to defend the BBC… we have a culture secretary (at last) that is putting measures quietly in place that will lead to this dinosaur’s long deserved extinction.

    Not in our lifetimes Barry. There are plenty of good arguments in favour of the BBC – in fact your Culture Secretary’s new white paper is a veritable compendium of them! See :-

    If you believe the government is about to kill off the BBC, you’ll be very disapointed when you read the above.

    “Are you forced by law to pay for Sky even if you never watch it?”

    You’d certainly have a very hard time avoiding paying for Sky through the numerous companies who help fund it through advertising. Strangely, this seems to anger nobody.

    I genuinely don’t understand the strength of feeling some people have towards the BBC. Even if you don’t like its output yourself, what other kind of public tax & spend (and the BBC is a tiny percentage of the whole) manages to give pleasure to millions, while at the same time investing in one of the most economically productive and internationally successful industries we have? Most public spending goes down the plughole and provides no entertainment to anybody, so why get so worked up about the BBC?

  • Barry Snelson 23rd May '16 - 10:56pm

    A couple of points.
    As to our lifetimes, depends on our ages, I suppose!
    But the poison pill is the subscription service. The First Class Lounge for a fee and the ‘programmes you love – still free’. Stop laughing at the back!
    This is a typical govy smoke and mirrors and to be fair to the BBC the penny has dropped and they are preparing for the end of broadcast and the switch to Faster broadband (which has to be behind a wall or the world gets free entertainment).

    I remember the ‘old days’ when any debate on the BBC would have been unthinkable and we sat round together watching Morecambe and Wise.

    The very existence of this vitriol is evidence that the BBC game is up. It has lost the trust and respect of millions of ordinary people like me.

    Its greed and arrogance are beyond anything a public broadcast service should contemplate.

    It’s enemies are multiplying relentlessly. Scandals and accusations will be the gleeful fare of all the other media channels for every day of its remaining miserable and resented life. Which will be the only entertainment the BBC has given me for years.

    Just a couple of questions.
    How many of the current 22 million licence payers do you think would take up a subscription if the BBC were encrypted?
    Would you endorse a national newspaper, paid for by mandatory tax, and given to you ‘free’ every morning?

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd May '16 - 10:59pm

    @ Paul,
    First let us get the issue of my schooling out of the way. I have no respect for it. Even at the tender age of eleven, I recognised the unfairness of separating ‘the sheep from the goats’,on the basis of a particular exam, especially as I would be the first to acknowledge that many of my friends who failed the exam where much cleverer than I.

    The point that I was trying to make, obviously badly, was that I find the programmes that you laud a popular and therefore an argument in favour of a publicly funded institution, patronising to a day time audience.

    I question the continuance of the BBC as a publicly funded institution given the wide choice of programmes now on offer from commercial channels. I question its right to be a self regulating institution, especially in light of the Savile scandal.

    You mention some of the good (dare I say superior?) programmes that it broadcasts, but commercial channels also produce some excellent programmes. Who can forget the wonderful , ‘Jewel in the Crown’ ?

    Your comment about ‘The ‘Four Yorkshire men”. made me laugh, it was extremely funny in a blokey sort of way. Friends and I performed a parody, ‘The Four Yorkshirewomen’. turbans on head, and mops and buckets in hands.

    I am amazed that the BBC is seen as a sacred cow that deserves to be spared from having its privileges challenged.

  • @Jayne Mansfield
    “I question the continuance of the BBC as a publicly funded institution given the wide choice of programmes now on offer from commercial channels.”

    People prefer the BBC. It is the most popular broadcaster by a mile. It would be a funny old world if we decided to ditch the broadcaster the public like best of all.

    Of course the BBC would be damned either way. In the ’80s, people like Barry were arguing that the BBC should be ditched because most people preferred watching ITV. Thirty years on, as this supposedly anachronistic organisation is making mincemeat of its many commercial competitors, the argument now is that the BBC should fall on its sword for being too successful!

  • Doesn’t Mr Snelson realise he’s paying twice for Sky (once for the sub plus higher prices on the goods advertised on it) ? On top of which he’s contributing to the coffers of that we’ll known radical compassionate and socially responsible Murdoch empire.

  • On top of which the extra cost of advertising goods mentioned is just as much a compulsory levy on the rest of us as any licence fee – and not half as transparent.

  • Dav 23rd May ’16 – 12:47pm
    So why is making popular programmes a problem?
    Because if a programme is popular, then why does it need to be subsidised by the license fee?

    @Dav – you really answered your own question – the keyword is if!
    Once you have a successful program like TopGear or drama like the Night Manager, you can use the worldwide sales of the programme and its format to subsidise other programmes; without the successful programmes, the licence fee would be significantly higher…

    Yes, the current licence fee, being based on ownership of a traditional TV set, is a little outdated, but then the BBC isn’t unique in having problems in working out how to make money in the new world.

  • As I’ve said before, you wouldn’t do it this way if you were starting from scratch now. But I’ve seen the alternative of an all commercial TV market in the USA, and I’ll keep a license fee funded BBC thank you, until someone comes up with a better alternative that will maintain quality.

    Also, the TV license fee pays for the BBC radio stations, for which there is no practical system for collecting subscriptions.

    Is there anyone who can honestly say they don’t watch or listen to any BBC content, either on TV or radio?

  • Barry Snelson 24th May '16 - 8:47am

    I can’t stand the BBC output for more than a few minutes. I listen to Heart FM in the car and think that Radio 4 is just the solar system benchmark for pomposity, arrogance and its bleating sheep of followers are welcome to it. They must get a really weird view of the world listening to that. So subscriptions aren’t needed for radio. Listen to Heart.

    A BBC documentary is its latest celebrity full face to camera, then left profile then right profile then walking towards the camera then away then looking puzzled, intrigued, delighted, concerned, fascinated by the one expert they’ve found. In fact, a BBC documentary consists of 59 minutes of Attenborough’s nostrils.
    If they want to know how to make a documentary watch National Geographic which covers the subject not the celebrity presenter.
    Their sitcoms are foul mouthed, politicised and humourless and I hit the channel button within seconds.
    What else do they do? Baking show, antique shows, house shows? Ye Gods -save us!
    I confess that once a year I watch ‘Strictly’ under duress (so that a close relative can explain it all to me). But it is beyond me that anyone can enjoy a show so shamelessly fixed and where the judges are the lovely Darcy Bussell surrounded by three complete freaks.
    So, with that exclusion Paul, I avoid the BBC because its cult of celebrity is poisonous and suppresses new talents.
    It is the epitome of white middle class englishness desperately gripped by a desire to show that is exactly what it isn’t but none of it’s actions look human, honest and genuine but reek of embarrassed tokenism.
    When this rotten old tree falls new green shoots showing the true, multiple talents and diversity of our society will emerge and reach the sun.

    The BBC has created too many enemies to survive. Its subscription channel will take its good content. The rest is obvious.

  • Jayne Mansfield 24th May '16 - 9:41am

    @ Stuart,
    I doubt that many people would argue that the BBC should be ditched, rather, I believe that many would like to see it shaken out of its perceived complacency. The obligatory licence fee is seen by some as the cause of this.

    I just find Paul’s ‘ Programmes to cycle to’, a sign of this. His example of a couple of programmes, including Homes under the Hammer which has an educational value insofar as we now know that estate agents always walk around in pairs is not worthy of its aims and objectives. Listening to elderly relatives who have the TV on all day (‘ as a bit of company’ i.e. background noise), I feel that Day time output is one area where there is a need for improvement if it is to remain publicly funded.

    There is also some of its website output such as recipes that can be found on other sites.

    @ Paul,
    Perhaps you have forgotten ‘The South Bank Show’ which brought culture to a mass audience over many years. It also had an antecedent ‘ Aquarius’. It can now be viewed on Sky and has audiences around the world.

    We all need a good kick up the backside at times and I don’t think the BBC is an exception.

  • Barry

    Apart from the National Geographic channel and your annual Strictly torment, do you actually watch much TV? I agree that it doesn’t sound like you get value from your license fee, but I’d be surprised if you find ITV or Sky significantly more to your taste.

  • David Brenton
    My problem with BBC is that it’s like being forced by law to pay Sony or NBC or any other big entertainment provider. I don’t think it is reasonable. I wouldn’t expect people who don’t like Heavy Metal to pay general music tax that went to supporting heavy metal. It’s unreasonable. And yes I did have a run in with the BBC when I moved house and committed the terrible crime of not having a television. They are an unpleasant organisation.

    We’ve already had this argument. The BBC is a huge Billion pound entertainment provider. Plenty of big entertainment providers manage perfectly well without forcing people, and it is force, to pay for them. If it’s loved by millions then there is no reason that it would not survive without the licence fee. Give people the freedom of choice and we’ll see how loved it is.

  • Paul.
    re list.
    I actively avoid cricket, along with dressage, golf, tennis, darts, snooker, Eastenders, radio 4 and radio 3. Also I live in Leicester so the shipping broadcast is a little irrelevant. The point is that none of these things are a good reason to expect the uninterested to pay for them just because they occasionally flick the box on to see something on a different channel they are interested.

    The thing about the defence of the Licence fee is that it sometimes seems that some people lose sight of the reality that the claims of quality are highly subjective and the organisation is a huge entertainment giant with a vast wages bill for already wealthy “stars”, execs and commissionaires. The BBC is not a teeny tiny community service run by volunteers or hospice radio or anything that noble. It is a huge extremely lucrative Entertainment brand!

  • Barry Snelson 24th May '16 - 12:40pm

    I don’t watch much. Documentaries and a range of news feeds to get a balance. Fox news, Al-Jazeera, Euronews, Sky News Russia Today, France 24. Even the BBC news (rarely) but their presenters look as though they’re doing me a favour reading it out so I don’t last long with them.

    Believe or not I’m relaxed about the BBC as it’s on its way out. I was directed to the White Paper as its guarantee of survival. But I am old and wise in the way our government works.

    It’s not what’s in a White Paper, it’s what’s left out. And conspicuously absent is a sustainable funding model. To increase the unsustainable licence fee just drives ever more viewers to go on demand (aided and abetted by ever faster broadband).

    No household tax (that would have been as popular as anaesthetic free dentistry) and above all the only thing that could have preserved it – a ring fenced general tax fund ruled out.

    They are being ‘allowed’ to set up a subscription service.

    There are many intelligent people on this blog. Surely they can see the writing on this wall.

  • David Brenton 24th May '16 - 12:53pm

    Barry. Sadly I can see the writing on the wall. in the absence of the BBC we will have TV like the US. Pandering to ratings and the lowest common factor. This is what Murdoch, Whittingdale and the right wingers want.

  • Barry Snelson 24th May '16 - 1:55pm

    I am more positive about the loss of the BBC. It dominates media and so much creative talent must be wasted by promising new voices desperately pitching to get the eye of some nameless BBC Commissioning Director. A lucky few will become mega-rich and famous. Most will be disappointed and will see their ideas wither as there is no space that the BBC doesn’t claim as its own territory.

    The key topic here is “broadcast TV” and the days of wasting electromagnetic spectrum sending media to buildings already connected to ultra-fast broadband must be numbered.

    I can’t tell the future but our smart phones must be able to collect the ‘programming’ we want (a subscription version of Radio 4 perhaps??) and feed it to car radios and providers will fill that demand. (I think I can do that now with the fancy radio in our Skoda – but I stick to Heart because I haven’t quite worked out how to set it up).

    So I think the BBC is actually in the way. It has too much money, it has too much power to anoint or destroy but the future won’t just be endless reality TV and game shows. The internet (subscription probably) providers that cater for all tastes will fill the gap with diverse and interesting content for the millions who tire of junk TV.

    The BBC can’t win. It has to be all things to everyone. But it could prosper in one specific niche. It just can’t prosper in all of them.

  • David,
    who can compare quality programs like The Voice, Celebrity Pointless, Celebrity Bake Off etc to trash like Boardwalk Empire, Fargo, and Breaking Bad or even Law and Order.
    IMO the general standard of TV is poor to mundane pretty much everywhere in the world and the BBC is no exception to this. If you actually look at schedules there are at best a handful of halfway decent programs spread through day after day utter banality. The BBC has produced the odd good show usually with incredibly short runs. In reality American TV is nowhere near the bottom of the pile and has over the years produced some great programs in every genre with more consistency, longer runs and better writing. Not many people outside of Britain really thinks we have the Best TV in the world.

  • I always thought the BBC’s daytime output was designed to get us to work. One can enjoy Homes under the Hammer occasionally but there are only so many times one can see a presenter gasp at a fresh coat of magnolia and not pine for even the most mundane work!

    For me the advert free Cbeebies is a godsend – not sure I’d be able to have a shower or make breakfast without it!

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th May '16 - 6:01am

    ‘Just when sleep beckons but the mind won’t quite let you slip into its silken craw, the sound of another human voice, familiar, yet not intrusive, reciting this mantra can be quite relaxing’

    Clearly groundbreaking broadcasting Paul …. for those who have never heard of Nytol and a mug of cocoa.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th May '16 - 7:38am

    @ Paul,
    I still see no argument as to why if one is a democrat one can argue against a subscription model to fund the BBC.

    As ‘free marketeers’, I am puzzled as to why Liberal Democrats are able to argue for a funding model for the BBC that distorts the market.

    Is the BBC a ‘pubic good’ on a par with the NHS?

  • Roland 24th May ’16 – 12:51am……..Once you have a successful program like TopGear or drama like the Night Manager, you can use the worldwide sales of the programme and its format to subsidise other programmes; without the successful programmes, the licence fee would be significantly higher…

    Exactly….It is no coincidence that many, many of the programmes shown on ‘Commercial’ channels are re-runs of the BBC…

    As for the ,” Not many people outside of Britain really thinks we have the Best TV in the world.”????
    Having lived, and worked in counties as diverse as France, USA, Australia, South Africa, Canada, etc. may I assure you that many, many, do!…

  • Barry Snelson 25th May '16 - 11:20am


    Our Culture Secretary has said to Parliament:

    “Although the licence fee remains the best way of funding the BBC for this Charter period, it is likely to become less sustainable as the media landscape continues to evolve. The Government therefore welcomes the BBC’s intention to explore whether additional revenue could be raised at home and abroad from additional subscription services sitting alongside the core universal fee.
    The Government is clear that any new subscription offer would be for additional services beyond what the BBC already offers.”

  • Jane
    Thank you.
    most of the programs shown on the commercial channels are not BBC programs. Of the British ones a lot are ITV the Brett Holmes. The Morse franchise, Frost, etc. But mainly they’re American, CSI, Big Bang, X files, Star Trek, Law and Order, My name is Earl,Castle, Brooklyn 911, Outer Limits, Columbo etc. I would argue that this is because they are and were made for far longer runs (averaging around 24 episodes per season as apposed to under 10), and call me unpatriotic for this, to a far better standard. The older ones being shot on film helps a lot on that score In truth the mainstay of BBC repeats are Top Gear and few old quiz shows on Dave and Challenge.

  • Glenn 25th May ’16 – 11:22am….Expats…..most of the programs shown on the commercial channels are not BBC programs….

    I didn’t use the word ‘most’; I used the word ‘many’ (twice)…I won’t bother to list them as there are far too many (three times)…

  • Expats.
    Fair point. but I managed a list and it could have been over 10 times longer before even getting to things like HBO and Netflix. Also it could have included a recently shifted BBC channel that seemed to consist of Family Guy and American Dad on heavy rotation. So I could sit through a list.

  • PS’
    As an after thought I could have pointed out that the BBC guards it copyrights nearly as tightly as Disney so most BBC re-runs appear on BBC channels and I player.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th May '16 - 1:23pm

    @ in response to your penultimate comment to me. Clearly in some of my responses,I am going to have to display a little icon of a grey haired granny with an expression that betrays a well -honed sense of the ridiculous, an anarchic sense of humour, not to mention a hint of evil and a cheek that is puffed out by tongue.

  • It’s interesting to see the extreme right wing liberals on here lining up with the Tories which helps explain in part the readiness which the party leapt into Government with them. But at least it is amusing to see Heart FM and National Geographic held up as exemplars of ground-breaking broadcasting. Having had to endure years of American and other all.commercial TV believe me the BBC is great.

    Presumably our extreme right wing liberals also object to paying for the NHS on the same grounds?

  • To those saying that the US makes great TV, it does indeed make some great TV, but remember only the best makes it onto our screens. Go to the US and try flicking through the channels trying to find something worth watching. Most of what you see is worse (much worse) than even our reality or daytime dross, with some occasional gems. All interrupted with extremely frequent adverts and incredibly biased and blinkered “news” programmes.

    Rupert Murdoch would love to see the BBC starved of funding and neutered. For me, that’s a good enough reason on it’s own to keep it.

  • Barry Snelson 25th May '16 - 3:34pm

    I thought you were doing all right there until you equated the Great Ormond Street Hospital with Celebrity Bake Off.

  • Andy Andrews.
    I’m not an extreme right wing liberal. I’m if anything on the left, but mainly in this argument I’m Just a peeved TV viewer who thinks the BBC is a bit rubbish and resents paying for it.
    I don’t see the BBC a wonderful progressive force. I see at as the result of a bunch of failed radio manufacturers coming together with a paternalistic elite some time in the early 20th to make a bit of money and to ensure that listening, then later on viewing, habits were strictly under control lest we, the great unwashed, got funny ideas about better radio sets, swing music and replacing paternalistic elites.

  • Re: the Shipping forecast

    I think one of the problems we now have with the BBC, is that we don’t actually know what public service broadcaster should be doing.

    Looking back it is relatively easy to pick up items such as the shipping forecast, the personal SOS messages and war time transmissions among others to see that the BBC did serve Britain and play a role in forming modern Britain and through it’s exports and oversea’s services helped form people’s impressions of Britain. Thus perhaps we should be arguing less about turning the BBC into just another commercial media provider, but thinking about just what we want our public service broadcaster to do and the image we wish it to project worldwide about Britain.

  • Barry’

  • @Barry
    I remember the ‘old days’ when any debate on the BBC would have been unthinkable and we sat round together watching Morecambe and Wise.

    Then you will also remember when Morecambe and Wise moved to ITV and became completely rubbish overnight. Just one of many acts who followed the same career path! When I was a kid you always used to dread hearing that one of your favourite entertainers had moved over to “the other side”. Why do people tend to be funnier on the BBC? Who knows, but it’s just one of those spooky reasons that people have for sticking with it.

    “A BBC documentary is its latest celebrity full face to camera, then left profile then right profile…

    Then I must have imagined all those brilliant BBC documentaries I’ve seen made by people who are well-respected experts in their fields. People like Simon Schama, Adam Curtis, Jim Al-Khalili, Mary Beard, Brian Cox, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Waldemar Junuszczak, Chris Lintott, and yes, David Attenborough (who most of the population, unencumbered by obsessive hatred for all things BBC, tend to admire). Even some of the celeb ones can be unexpected treats, for instance I always enjoy Rich Hall’s BBC4 Americana-themed programmes.

    Have you actually read the government white paper? Much of it reads as a paean to the BBC. The government’s own research finds that the vast majority of people think the BBC is doing a good job, and they want it to continue to expand, funded either excusively or largely by a license fee. That’s the reality the government is faced with, that’s why they’re renewing the license fee for another 11 years, and that’s why you’re just going to have to put up with it. There’s more chance of the BBC bringing back the Black & White Minstrel Show than there is of the government scrapping the license fee during our lifetimes.

  • Barry

    In practical terms, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying just encrypt the BBC channels and charge a subscription. That would mean it could no longer be delivered over the air by digital Freeview.

    They would have to delivered by satellite or cable, with either the BBC offering it’s own set top box, or more likely by having sky or virgin cable and adding a “BBC bundle”. For people who don’t already have sky or virgin, this would add significant cost, probably greater than that of the license fee.

    And don’t say that broadcast TV is old hat, and you can get everything via the internet. That’s not the case for a lot of people.

    The only other alternative to a subscription would be for the BBC to be funded by advertising, but this would then mean it would compete with the ITV companies for that revenue, and I doubt they would want that.

  • Barry Snelson 26th May '16 - 8:05am

    Thank you for a welcome reasoned response and I agree with some of your points but I take a view of the future formed by watching new technologies devour old ones at a terrifying speed. Anyone else remember Philips Laser Discs ? (hint – it was before Betamax).

    Whittingdale has conceded that it’s too early to kill Freeview and the broadband roll out is slower than wanted. But roll out it must. It can’t then be long coming that the UHF frequencies tied up in Bands IV and V become just too desperately needed (and financially attractive) for burgeoning mobile and IOT (the internet of things) to waste them broadcasting media to dwellings that are firmly im -mobile. We have a Yagi aerial on the roof (most people do still) but I can’t remember when we last took a signal from it, years certainly. All media is satellite and broadband in our house (and increasingly broadband).

    So my prediction is that super fast broadband will be matched with a steady drift to new Smart TVs, plugged into the little box in the corner and then, area by area, Freeview (and broadcast) will be phased out.

    I accept that a few will be left out, and the wife has a dear and wonderful uncle who fought at Nijmegen with the Irish Guards who can’t understand why he can’t still ring up the ticket office of his local station to ask about train times. But the internet age hasn’t waited for these few ‘stragglers’ and it won’t wait for the last few on 56K dialup modems!

    The BBC has accepted the inevitable. The only sustainable funding would be a legally protected slice of income tax and that was never on the cards so their funding is now conceded as unsustainable and I’m quite certain that the future I predict will steadily emerge.

    And a far better one too, as the BBC is malign, domineering and obstructive and needs to be replaced by a thousand new and different voices.

  • Barry

    I agree that the future you propose is inevitable, and I conceed the unfairness of a system that forces people to pay for the BBC when they don’t use it.

    I could not agree that the BBC is “malign”, but I would welcome a plan for the future that ensures that the BBC is fairly funded by it’s users whilst maintaining quality (accepting that I have a more positive view of the quality of the BBC’s output than you!).

    However, I don’t see that in the Government’s plans or in most of the posts on LDV. However it does sound like you have thought things through in more detail than Whittingdale!

    I am still of the opinion that the BBC is mostly a good thing and produces quality output that I enjoy. I would rather continue paying a license fee until someone comes up with a genuinely better plan, than see the BBC suffer a death of a thousand cuts by ideologically driven Tories.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th May '16 - 4:46pm

    @ Barry an Glen,
    Thank you. It is interesting to have a different perspective that challenges my own.

    You are really helping me to see things through different eyes. There is no reason why the BBC cannot still produce high quality programmes that commercial channels would not produce. Those of us who wish to see them would have to pay more if there are fewer people who want to watch them.

    To liken it, as a service which is a public good, in the same way that the NHS or education they provide a service to all of us. The BBC is like a regressive flat tax on everyone with a TV

  • Barry Snelson 26th May '16 - 5:53pm

    Thank you for your kind words and I have enjoyed reading your posts too. I have very fond memories of watching the BBC with my parents in the long ago (when the BBC was the only channel there was) even with my mother’s frequent outbursts “But he’s an actor!”.
    I hope St. Peter has had more luck explaining TV fiction than I ever did.

    But we can be hugely successful in international media and the arts if we move from the structures of the past and exploit our huge talents through the emerging media pathways. We should express our gratitude to the BBC and leave it in the 20th Century. The 21st Century will need different energies and different tools.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th May '16 - 7:56pm

    @ Barry Snelson,
    I remember watching the Queen’s coronation at a time when the BBC was a unifying force in British life. Family a friends and neighbours used to sit in front of a 9″ screen in the home of anyone who was lucky enough to have a TV. This was true of all important national events.

    However, we are now a diverse country and there are a variety of channels that people can choose from to suit their own tastes and interests. Our much loved ‘Auntie’, needs to move with the times.

    @ Paul,
    A good effort, but the granny in the icon looks far too benign.

  • @Jayne Mansfield
    “Our much loved ‘Auntie’, needs to move with the times.”

    Such as developing things like iPlayer? Which of course has wiped the floor with all other VOD services; over a quarter of a billion “requests” per month, from over 15 million unique devices.

    In fact iPlayer is so massively popular that the broadband companies (who provide the cruddy networks Barry imagines will one day soon render the BBC obsolete) have been known to complain that the BBC ought to pay them to develop better infrastructure, since their current networks struggle to cope with the amount of iPlayer traffic.

    But really all this talk of “getting with the times” misses the point. Things like Internet VOD are not so much a competitor to traditional TV services as complementary to them. Many people will always want both. Moreover, despite the hype, it’s a fact that traditional live TV watching is still massively more popular than any other kind of video, with the gap closing only at a glacial pace; at current trends, live TV, just the same as you and Barry used to watch in 1953, will continue to dominate for decades to come.

    People don’t ditch technologies simply because something shiny and new comes along. Newspapers, books, radio and cinema all persist long after the technology behind them became “old hat”. eBooks, which were supposed to take over from physical books, are now declining in popularity and losing market share. People still like sitting in their living room and watching broadcast TV just as they always have done. This isn’t going to change radically any time soon – peel away the digital hype and the stats bear this out.

  • Jane,
    Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th May '16 - 12:08am

    @ Stuart,

    I watch iplayer rather than the television.

    Whereas, my husband and I used to check the Sunday Times TV guide and decide on which programmes we would watch during the week, we now use iplayer so that we can fit any programmes we want to watch around our life style.

    However, I thought that there was now some question of whether iplayer was able to maintain its popularity. I was under the impression that iplayer was no longer as popular as it once was , and also thatGlobal iplayer lost out to fierce competition.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th May '16 - 12:10am

    @ Glen,
    I find them refreshing.

  • @Jayne
    I tend to use iPlayer for dramas, documentaries and some comedy. For many other things – like sport, news (including breakfast news which I watch every day), and most enertainment shows – I much prefer to watch “live”, as do most people. Live viewing is still vastly more popular, as this graph shows :-

    If the trend of the last 10 years continues (and it’s been remarkably consistent so far) then it will be decades before catch-up has a hope of overtaking live viewing. It’s more likely it will plataeu at some natural level well before then, because live TV will always be preferred for some kinds of viewing. For instance, my daughter, like many millions of others, has been glued to some rubbish called “Britain’s Got Talent” all week. She wouldn’t dream of watching it on catch-up (which is bad news for me as it clashes with tomrrow’s Champions League final – which I also want to watch live). One of the reasons she wants to watch live is because she likes using social media as she’s watching it. This is a good example of how the internet, far from replacing TV as Barry imagines, actually more often works as a companion to it.

    There is no evidence iPlayer is in decline. Though you do get quite big fluctuations month on month (depending largely on whether there have been any really big hit series available), recent months have seen some of the biggest iPlayer figures. See :-

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th May '16 - 11:51pm

    @ Stuart,
    The posts from Barry and Glen raise some important issues. One of them being that
    those who watch little BBC pay the same amount that someone who watches the
    programme regularly pays. Hardly fair.

    As someone who is selective in what I watch, I myself question what the role of the BBC is in modern Britain. If it is about producing high quality programmes that cannot or would not be produced by commercial channels, why does it need o many channels and radio stations? If one looks at the `TV guide, much of its output is on a level with the sort of thing your daughter enjoys.

    Have you ever watched programmes like ‘Come Dine with me’, and ‘Four in a bed’? They seem to encourage bad manners amongst contestants. The BBC seems bloated with this sort of stuff, with only the occasional programme that some argue only the BBC is capable of producing because of the licence fee.

    I don’t know how critics like Barry and Glen feel about it, but if the argument is that we need a National Broadcaster to raise the quality of broadcasting in this country, why if this means payment by a licence fee, cannot it restrict itself to those sort of programmes and let commercials channels produce the ‘low-brow’ stuff , for example, ‘Strictly Come Dancing ‘and the ones I mentioned that help one to relax after a hard day, rather than feel challenged, ones that appeal to majority taste rather than minority tastes, and then charge a much lower licence fee for a slimmed down service that no commercial broadcaster would consider because it would not get the popularity ratings.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th May '16 - 2:24am

    First , some corrections .A Sky subscription costs TWENTY ONE POUNDS not the astronomical sums the above regular critics of the network say it is. Unlike the BBC, one has not only a choice of whether to pay it , pay more and you can get many more channels and yes it costs about the sum referred to if doing that.I would love it on these debates if facts were adhered to .

    Secondly, there really is an absurd degree of interest in the preservation of systems that started as an elitist and monopolistic way of industry leaders in the twenties , to hog the airwaves ! The BBC is not my auntie, and if she is , she is fleecing me !

    I want paul to watch his programme of choice on my recommended channel , that is if I were culture secretary , the channel , called BBC Commercial, and it might have a 1, 2, or 3, after it , that is up to it to sort out , and it would be including adverts and sponsership, then he and we , could switch channel , to see Mary Beard present something on the one very mixed and eclectic channel for public service broadcasting , called, BBC Public!

    It , thus allowing for any worthwhile programme , many very obscure , some like the aforementioned , presented by academics , some drama , with unknown or established talent , hey , it could be called , Play for today ,and tommorrow ! They might even have amazing writers like Dennis Potter of the future or Alan Bleesdale of then , too !

    It would include many programmes for children , uncommercial but very entertaining ,
    they would educate kids and do so in a way that the market place may not bother to do,
    hey , one or two for the younger kids , they could be called Playaway ,School! Maybe even get in someone called , er whats that name , er , you know , to present or advise , er , yes, Baroness Benjamin!

    And the proms ,and sky at night, and David Attenborough………………….

    And how come ? Why because it all comes from the grant given by the department of culture under its new culture secretary, which is given to the new organisation called The Broadcasting Council, which , in this radical new scheme , funds other channels and small scale production companies that apply to it for grants !

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th May '16 - 2:29am


    No licence fee, do it from taxation, and have a properly independent broadcaster no government place men in sight , as we have a properly , very , independent and oft treasured ,National Theatre , started by , what was his name , er , Lord Olivier ?!

  • Paul;
    As opposed to a director general appointed by the government of the day . And actually if you look at news coverage the piper already does to an extent call the tune. AS for the rest of the argument. I see there seems to be an awful lot of programs fronted by Simon Reeves! Not so long ago prof Brian Cox was being flown all over the globe to tell us that things in space are very far away or that the sun is very hot and that like sand we are all made of stars in a style reminiscent of Alan Bennett after a weekend spent listening to Moby!
    I just question whether or not this kind of thing really requires billions of pounds and legal threats to pay for it.

    I think Lorenzo comes closet to a workable model if you go down the public service route.

  • @Jayne
    I don’t find the argument about everybody paying the same to be a strong one at all. You could say exacty the same thing about Sky sbuscribers, ITV viewers (or non-viewers), NHS users, education users (or non-users), pavement users etc etc. At least some of the BBC’s output would be described by economists as a “public good”.

    “Come Dine With Me” and “Four in a Bed” are both Channel 4 programmes.

    I don’t know why BBC critics keep bringing up “Strictly” as an example of a programme that should be left to the commercial broadcasters. If any executive had gone to the controller of any of the commercial stations 15 years ago and said: “I’ve got a fantastic idea – let’s put on two hours of ballroom dancing in peak-time”, said controller would have called for security and had the guy removed from the building. NO commercial broadcaster would have taken a chance on Strictly at the time. Plenty of eyebrows were raised when the BBC itself said it was bringing back a variant on “Come Dancing”.

    Strictly is the perfect example of why we need the BBC. Nobody predicted its success, and nobody else would have done it, but it’s flourished into a programme that is not just watched but genuinely loved by millions.

  • @Lorenzo
    You say a basic Sky subscription costs £21. That’s £252 per year, which is 73% more expensive than a BBC license. Despite shelling out for this expense, people who have Sky spend far more time watching the BBC on average. Sky’s prices have nearly doubled in the past 8 years, despite dismal ratings performance. Sky viewers are paying far more while hardly watchnig any of it. Yet this is the kind of model we keep being told is more sustainable and “modern” than the BBC’s.

    Plus of course, how many people subscribe to Sky only for the football, at vastly more expense? A large proportion I suspect, and I’m one of them. I do enjoy the odd programme on Sky Arts (which used to be superb until they got rid of Sky Arts 2) but no way would I pay £21 per month for it!

    I agree in part with your final suggestion – I’d rather see the BBC financed through general taxation. Since BBC use is virtually universal (97% of the adult population each week) and some of its output is a public good, I think that would be justifiable, and would have the advantage of being potentially progressive.

  • Stuart
    The BBC is nothing like pavements or the NHS and ITV is a commercial Channel. The BBC is a big entertainment company like Sony or NBC or Fox. If it’s that popular then it would survive on voluntary payments in the form of subscription and the people who didn’t want it could have a couple of extra quid in their pocket.

  • Paul.
    1) Look up the history of BBC director generals and their political affiliations.
    2)Well, perhaps by that logic we should scrap ITV and force people to pay even more money.
    3) If the only people watching programs designed to educate and inform are already mostly educated and informed, which is what the viewing figures suggest, then how are these programs educating and informing anyone. It’s just niche programing, really. Personally, I read books and occasionally look things up on the internet. To me the BBC is mostly edged to the lowest common denominator. Cookery programs, panel shows, soaps, talent contests, light entertainment. The point being that it is far more like bad commercial TV than it supporters would have you believe.
    5) I agree there is such a thing as society, but this does not mean the BBC. IMO a lot of the support for the BBC comes from a belief in the idea of it being a service and that it is somehow saving us from Rupert Murdoch, both of which there is little real evidence for. The reality is if the licence fee ended TV would barely change. A few stars would end up on an expanded ITV is about the sum total of what would happen.

  • @Glenn
    There’s no point debating what you think the BBC is or ought to be. The BBC will continue to be whatever the public want it to be – it’s as simple as that. And if you want to know what that is, a good place to start is annexes 3 and 4 of the new white paper :-

    It’s actually quite interesting to compare this white paper with the previous one from 2006 :-

    If anything, the current government seems more resigned to continuing the license fee than the Blair government. In 2006, with things like VOD still in their infancy, it was taken as a given that the license fee might be unsustainable by 2016 and that alternatives would need to be considered. Now that 2016 is here, the new white paper is much less bullish about the prospect for things like subscription replacing the license, speculating only that it might be some sort of useful top-up by the time of the next review in 2017.

  • That last post should have ended “2027” of course.

    As for the death of the BBC not having a negative impact on the sector as a whole… again, you really need to look at the white paper, chapter 4.

  • Stuart,
    I am a member of the public by the way.

  • @Glenn
    So am I, so I guess we cancel each other out and it’s up to the other 64m what kind of BBC they want…

  • Stuart
    there was a poll done by Mogul Tube last year that found 61% of those polled wanted to scrap the licence fee and just under 24% wanted to retain it. Admittedly, it was a small random phone sample of around 1500.
    Personally, I suspect that if you gave people the choice the BBCs revenue would and the viewers would go elsewhere .

  • nvelope2003 28th May '16 - 4:15pm

    There are many things provided by the BBC that do not seem to be available elsewhere. Most of those who hate the BBC seem to have little interest in anything but endless pop music. They also seem to hate anyone who likes Radio 4, possibly motivated by some sort of dislike of anyone who tries to improve themselves or because they are bored by the sort of things it does.
    I did not like the attitude of the TV licence enforcers when my TV broke down and I asked for a refund of the unexpired balance as I did not want to buy another one at that time but I accept that many people who watch TV do not buy a licence.

    The licence fee works out at £2.80 per week – about the cost of a cup of coffee which many buy daily. It is a bargain compared to other providers but only because everyone has to pay it, which is reasonable if 97% of the population watch it sometimes. There are issues around the waste of money endemic in any subsidised organisation but many people seem to be happy to subsidise waste on systems such as the railways and buses which only a relatively small proportion of the population use. I suspect many people hate trains and buses, though not me.
    Not everyone likes David Attenborough but many people do and his programmes are not 99% about him unless you hate him which obviously one or two people do.
    Heart is not available in all parts of the country. I cannot understand why as it seems to consist of endless recorded music which must cost very little to provide.

  • @Glenn
    The TubeMogul survey you mention was not “random” – its sample consisted only of people who had watched online videos that particular week.

    62% did indeed say they wanted the BBC funded by advertising instead. That wouldn’t actually perturb me so much as a (mostly) BBC viewer, since the main effect of advertising on the BBC would be to starve the other broadcasters of revenue. ITV, C4 and C5 would struggle to survive and Sky would have to increase its subscription fees yet further.

    Little wonder that 82% of UK media execs believe a privatised BBC would be a “significant threat” to the whole media sector, especially TV :-

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th May '16 - 5:41pm

    You, rarely miss the point , here you have ! The idea I propose is similar to what we have now with the Arts Council and Crafts Council , a block grant , no different to any government department giving to say the NHS from the department of health, would , in my example , be given annually or bi anually as a settlement of funding .

    So The Broadcasting Council , I advocate , would have its money.The BBC, or any public broadcasting oriented network or production company , would apply for funding , on a , say every three yearly or even four or five , basis.It , e.g. the BBC, or , rather , only the BBC Public channel I propose , would be completely free from government , as would The Broadcasting Council, just as the National Theatre and the Arts Council are and have been .

    Sorry , Paul , to scare you , hoping it is not as scary as the TV license detector van ,and drivers, demanding , illegal , actually , without a police warrant , entry ,into the homes of people unable to afford the poll tax on viewing !

    Thank you for your contribution , very welcome .

    The point is not whether Sky is good or not but that we are not forced to pay it and it does not claim to be public service anything !

  • Nvelope2003
    Have you got poof that most people who hate the BBC only want endless pop music and is it really about hate or is it more about choice and in some cases not having the money to pay for it. Or for that matter so what if they only want pop music?
    A lot of you guys seem to fall back on stereotyping people you disagree with. I would never say most people who want the TV licence are this, that or the other.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th May '16 - 6:24pm

    @ Paul,
    I have read your comments, but he more I read, ( I am not simply referring to your comments), the less convinced I am.

    We are getting bogged down in matters of taste which seems to be falling into the trap of those who have a vested interest in maintaining the special deal that is afforded to the BBC. For example, I have never watched any of the programmes that you mention, because as far as I am concerned, watching TV is mostly a mentally passive activity.

    The real question for me, is what is the role of the BBC in modern Britain? Why have we stood back and allowed people to be criminalised , and sometimes imprisoned for not paying the licence fee?

    It matters not that the BBC innovates and nurtures some programmes that prove popular in the long term. Having done so, if a programme becomes popular, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be ‘let go’, so that a commercial broadcaster can then test its true popularity.

    PS. If Strictly Come Dancing’ , is challenging in that it teaches about intricate dance steps, its voting audience seem to be averse to learning the lessons, or rather perverse in their judgements.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th May '16 - 7:15pm

    @ Stuart,
    Please don’t spoil you r usually highly intelligent posts by equating the BBC with the NHS or education.

    You challenge the results of the survey given by Glen. Dissatisfaction with the funding of the BBC by a licence fee is not new. For example, in a n ICM poll commissioned by the Sunday Telegraph 70% said that they would like the licence abolished or the cost reduced.
    That said, the responses that one gets in polls are influenced by the questions asked and the way they are phrased.

    You are correct, the programmes I mentioned are on Channel 4. A publicly owned, commercially funded organisation that has a remit that is not unlike that of the BBC’s. to provide innovative and distinctive programmes. Despite my ‘OOPs’ moment, I stand by what I said, the BBC is not solely a producer and broadcaster of excellent educational or minority taste programmes. As a former monopoly provider, it now, thanks to competition, tries to be all things to all people in order to maintain its privileged position as a receiver of public funds.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th May '16 - 7:44pm

    @ Stuart,
    Another ‘OOPs’ moment. I failed to mention that the ICM poll was in 2013.

    Are you aware how many millions are sent letters for avoiding paying the licence fee? Are you aware how many people are visited by the licence fee officer?

    More than 3,OOO people per week appeared in a magistrates court in 2013 . Their crime? Not being in possession of a valid television licence. If people fail to pay their fines they may face imprisonment.

    No wonder the Magistrates’ Association has, for the past two decades, been arguing for non payment to be decriminalised, and thank goodness it finally will be.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th May '16 - 7:20am

    @ Paul,
    No unlike the BBC it produces a mix of ( in my opinion), good and bad. I probably watch more of Channel 4 than any other, for example, ‘ The Genius of Art’ and ‘ Grayson Perry’s, In the best possible taste’.

    If one wants a Channel that appeals to all tastes, Channel’s other than the BBC provide them. I don’t like compulsion and the idea of criminalisation if one fights this compulsion.

    Just to mention ‘Strictly’, if only to stimulate further debate from Stuart. Have you not noticed how formulaic it is? Even the judging panel with the woman ( now that they have got rid of the old one who was a highly successful choreographer), as the beautiful feminine character and Craig Revel Horwood the pantomime villain to be booed for giving low scores. Have you not noticed the formula where, to to produce ‘human interest’ there is always a dancing ‘no hoper’ , including ones that cannot be lifted during the routines, that some of the contestants have previous dance experience and training? I

    It is a tired old formula that we see on programmes across the board. The only learning experience as far as I am concerned is that the obscene salaries go to the likes of Tess Daly and given the sliding scale of worth, not to the professionals. Now that is a lesson that has some resonance in everyday life.

    I’m not sure that I am going to continue paying my licence , especially now that I know that it has only paid for 11 months of viewing , not 12 months and that I have been penalised for paying quarterly. I just hope that the magistrates are not ‘Strictly’ fans, and they too think that the cost of the case to the public purse is absurd. and wrong.

  • I place very, very little faith in polls…. To quote, “For example, in an ICM poll commissioned by the Sunday Telegraph 70% said that they would like the licence abolished or the cost reduced.”…

    Ask anyone the question, or variant of, “Would you like the cost of xxxx reduced?” and I’m surprised that only 70% said, “Yes!”…..

    I’m reminded of the conundrum that few people accept cuts to public services but an even smaller percentage want to pay enough to keep them…

  • But Paul’
    Why should people have to pay the BBC to watch non BBC programs at all? What if you don’t have the means to watch things on catch up? What if they want to follow a news or a live sporting events? Why do they have to pay twice if to watch something on say Sky even if they can afford it?

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th May '16 - 10:14am

    Indeed the argument has, and I can only assume that all the glitz from those sequins has blinded you to the flaws in the arguments for a licence fee.

    Innovation and creativity come from real consumer choice, not a guaranteed funding stream that is more likely than not, to stunt innovation and creativity.

  • I looked at a Daily Mirror poll and 77% thought the BBC was too expensive.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th May ’16 – 10:14am…Innovation and creativity come from real consumer choice, not a guaranteed funding stream that is more likely than not, to stunt innovation and creativity……

    I believe almost the exact opposite.
    ‘Consumer Choice’ is all too often a euphemism for trying to please all of the people all of the time…
    ‘Guaranteed Funding’, on the other hand, is far more likely to allow experimentation, innovation and creativity…

  • Expats
    The problem with the BBC is that it doesn’t produce anything very different to the commercial channels and actually a lot of the time copies commercially successful templates. The output of the BBC is thus the same diet of consumer programs, cookery programs, game shows, panel shows and cop shows etc, that everyone else produces. It’s basically just a commercial juggernaut with guaranteed funding. Also it’s straight jacketed by the small c conservatism and blandness of its brand identify.

  • Glenn 29th May ’16 – 1:37pm…….Expats,The problem with the BBC is that it doesn’t produce anything very different to the commercial channels and actually a lot of the time copies commercially successful templates. The output of the BBC is thus the same diet of consumer programs, cookery programs, game shows, panel shows and cop shows etc, that everyone else produces. It’s basically just a commercial juggernaut with guaranteed funding. Also it’s straight jacketed by the small c conservatism and blandness of its brand identify…….

    One one hand we have an argument against the BBC that it is “commercial” consumer choice which produces “innovation and creativity” whilst the BBC is stunting “innovation and creativity…
    On the other hand you argue that the BBC produces the same stuff as the, presumably, “innovative and creative” commercial channels….

    Which is it?

    come from real consumer choice,

  • Nom de Plume 29th May '16 - 4:03pm

    I am also a supporter of publicly funded broadcasters. I find, given the choice to choose between watching the publicly funded TV and commercial alternatives in a number of european countries, on the whole I prefer the publicly funded. They have better news channels, better online sites, more innovative programming (reflecting cultural preferences), often they support the local film industry. Commercial channels follow the same model, regardless of language. They have different priorities.

  • Expats
    My argument if you read it is Consistent. I think the BBC mostly produces utter tripe and I don’t watch ITV either, coz I think that’s rubbish as well
    Which brings me to my other point, Paul instead of comparing schedules why not breakdown what those BBC programs are.
    The Apprentice. A reality TV show and the Brain child of Donald Trump.
    Holby city, medical Soap opera a bit like ER or something from the 1960s
    Casualty Medical Soap Opera a bit like ER or something from the 1960s
    Citizen Kahn, unfunny sit-com nearly as unfunny as Not Going Out, another BBC atrocity.
    Have I got news for you, dated panel show with the satirical edge of a boiled potato.
    And so fourth.
    The BBC pulls around 3.5 billion pounds a year of legally enforced fees to produce this rubbish. At least ITVs rubbish comes without legal threats.

  • Paul,
    because you were being obtuse. But since you asked there is better investigative journalism online, there’s more than enough food programs and I’d like to se a watchdog episodes where the BBC head of programing was chased around by an irate presenter saying things like “you promised top entertainment, when are you going to give Mrs Huggins and the thousands of other disappointed customers their money back. how much do you pay yourself “.
    I’m anything but coy.

    For instance you mentioned the BBC in comparison of Channel 4 citing only things like 4 in a bed to which I will say Shameless. Queer as Folk, No Offence, Inbetweeners, Best boy. 12 Years a Slave, 127 Hours, Under the Skin. Berbarian Sound Studios, High Rises and host of others with much less waste.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th May '16 - 5:10pm

    Would everyone who always polarises debates, not too bad on that here, I am very glad to say , but a tendency everywhere , can they not see that in the model I advocate above , which , whenever anyone understands it , and it is hardly complicated , they usually realise is a solution , it is possible to have best of both , like with bread !

    Bread and butter TV , now there is a rallying cry !

    Really , into the 21st century , what was a format ninety years ago does not work now ! Those who think that to change is to destroy miss the whole point of being radical or progressive , or come to think of it , moderate .There is a word for no change . It is conservative ! We can have vibrant genuine public broadcasting AND freedom of choice, please read my ideas above , as I intend to eventually promote them as potential , long overdue party policy ! If it takes me years !

  • Richard Underhill 29th May '16 - 5:11pm

    Glenn: How do you know it’s tripe if you don’t watch it? From the recipe website perhaps?

  • Richard Underhill.
    Have you ever put the TV on to watch something, then thought this is tripe or flicked through channels? That’s how I know.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th May '16 - 8:15am

    @ Paul,
    The BBC has been receiving a subsidy for the over 75’s. Indeed they have asked for those over 75 to consider paying voluntarily to make up the shortfall of the ‘cut’ when they no longer receive this.

    In my opinion, the posters on here seem to be pleading for a flat tax ( the licence fee) so that they can enjoy the sort of programmes produced that they enjoy. Alternatively, there seems to be a stand of belief that the BBC is the new Samuel Smiles, helping people by improve themselves. The flaw with this self help education is that there is no machine that ensures they watch the ‘superior’ output, or expose their children to it.

    There is some evidence regarding the areas where non payment of licence is more likely to be unpaid and the demographic that is less likely to pay. Adding a fine to their non payment of the original offence does not seem to me to be at all sensible.

    You don’t seem to have learnt the lesson Do not enter the alleyway of mentioning particular programmes that you feel to be informative. It is to easy to point out reality programmes like Judge Rinder ( !TV), a day time reality programme that teaches people about the the law as it applies to the everyday disputes many people might find themselves in. The content is serious but presented in an entertaining way.

    @ Expats,
    If anyone is trying to be all things to all people, it is the BBC. Now that it no longer has a monopoly, it faces competition and it is forced into that.

  • nvelope2003 31st May '16 - 1:19pm

    Jayne Mansfield: As soon as non payment of the TV licence is decriminalised defaults will soar as they did with water bills. The licence is a tax and I cannot see non payment of tax being decriminalised. Have you ever tried to recover a debt in the Civil Courts ? It is expensive and time consuming and rarely successful. What is most aggravating is that many of those who refuse to pay their bills are able to do so but choose not to as they prefer to spend their money on other things. The cost of enforcing payment will soar and revenue will fall so those honest people who pay their bills will have to pay even more. The Courts are not so busy that Magistrates have no time to deal with licence evaders. Enforcing the law is what they are there to do. It might give them less time to deal with the more absurd activities which courts engage in.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st May '16 - 1:45pm

    nvelope 2003

    Wrong , the TV licence does not have the status of a tax , it is , morally a dreadful poll tax , but it is , uniquely , a state sponsered compulsory bill.

    It was , I think , Michael Hesiltine , a Liberal in Tory clothing , who deciminalised non payment or at least late payment of bills, the unique status of the TV licence means we can do what we want with the nonpayment issue , and about time too !

    How anyone can be considered to be a Liberal who staunchly supports the TV licence as the way to fund public service broadcasting is a mystery ?!

  • nvelope2003 31st May '16 - 6:52pm

    Lorenzo Cherin
    The way we pay for the BBC has been debated for years and I used to be in favour of abolishing the compulsory licence fee but all the alternatives would be less attractive. Allowing the BBC to take advertising is probably the least bad option but it might mean that there were less or none of those programmes that I enjoy. It is good to have no breaks in radio programmes although sometimes a break in a TV programme can be useful. Advertisers might put pressure on the BBC to do things they would not otherwise do.

    I have never understood why people who do not pay their bills are treated any differently from those who steal things. If you take something without paying for it that is theft. I ran a small business and the trouble caused by people who did not pay, even though most of them could, was a big worry. Eventually I was forced to insist on payment before I would do a job. I only had one potential customer object. When I pointed out that you could not leave a supermarket without paying for the items you wished to take away virtually everyone accepted my terms.

    If the BBC did not put on programmes to suit different tastes there would be no point in having it, although obviously it would be hard to justify programmes with an audience of only 10 people.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st May '16 - 8:20pm

    nvelope 2003,
    I have moved in the opposite direction to you. I used to agree with a licence fee but now believe that new technology makes the arguments to maintain something that is manifestly unfair, redundant.

    Stuart has referred to the BBC as a public good in the manner of the NHS . I disagree with this. The BBC now has rivals that can produce a similar service. It can also exclude those who do not, for what ever reason, choose to pay for the service it offers, as indeed, some of its rivals do. This is completely different to someone who has asked you for a service, been given it to a satisfactory standard and then not paid their bills promptly.

    I mention the demographic who according to some evidence are least likely to pay, because if I was a magistrate, I would of course have to administer the law, but I would also be mindful of the fact that the poorest households are compelled to pay the same amount as the richest, and those who watch little or none must also pay the same amount as those who watch a great deal, thus subsidising the viewing tastes of others. I certainly would not be happy about the way I had to administer the law.

    Are adverts such an issue? Unless one is Jim Royale, a break to spend a few minutes out of one’s seat doing a different task, is probably good for one’s health and one’s concentration.

    I agree that the BBC put on programmes to suit different tastes. But why should people who do not find programmes to their tastes, have to pay for those who do?

    In my opinion, people have the right to choice, to own a television and watch what they want to watch and not what some producer or editor, knowing that viewers have no choice but to pay for their output or be criminalised, has to offer them?

    I don’t consider myself at all libertarian, but as someone who has had to work hard to keep my maternalistic tendencies in check.

  • Are adverts such an issue? Yes they are!

    The difference between children who watch cbeebies and cbbc and those who watched the satellite/cable kids tv – complete with adverts I suggest, from my own experience, is obvious to any parent.

    Which leads on to your next point:
    But why should people who do not find programmes to their tastes, have to pay for those who do?
    We should remember that children’s tv is one of the jewels in the crown of the BBC and whilst very few people around here watch it, it has helped to establish a number of successful independent production companies, such as Ragdoll productions and Aardman Animations…

    Personally, I’m happy for the BBC to cross fund other projects (just as Sky et al do), as until I had children I didn’t know what cbeebies and cbbc were about, but was glad they were there when I needed them. Likewise until I watched “The Night Manager” for example, I had no idea whether it would be to my tastes or not.

    The challenge is how do we fund the BBC, because clearly the current tv licence system is becoming increasingly unfair as a potentially a shrinking group of users is being asked to fund the full range of “free-to-air” TV, Radio and Internet services.
    Additionally, the evidence from music is that revenues from Internet broadcasting and download are currently totally insignificant, hence why Adele initially released “Adele 25” on CD and not as a download.

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Jun '16 - 11:12am

    @ Roland,
    What is obvious to you as a parent was never that obvious to me as a parent , grandparent and now great- grandparent. I was more than happy to sit with my children in front of programmes such as Art Attack.

    What has always seemed obvious to me, even the presence of adverts is a potential learning experience like any other, where one can teach children to discriminate between wants and needs, that some things that they want aren’t good for them and why. Sadly, it is a lesson that some children that have grown up into adulthood have never learnt.

    On the second point, CBeebies and CBBC might be the ”jewels in the Crown’, for the BBC, but they are still a poor substitute for the fostering of communication skills by direct communication between adults and children, the teaching of concentration and attention skills by a person armed with as little as a piece of paper and a lead pencil !

    Parenting is hard. Grandparenthood is better, one just has to keep one’s opinions to oneself, when one sees one’s grandchildren exposed to various different parenting styles by equally loving parents.

    As a general rule, one has to work with parents, listen to what they have to say. One can only share evidence based information but having listened to parents, one has to accept that people make choices that you or I might not make, or might even believe to be irrational, but in the context of their own lives they are entirely rational.

    As Lorenzo has pointed out, the popularity or otherwise of ‘Bargain Hunt ‘ has raised deeper issues and on my part, self -questioning about the nature of my own social liberalism. So well done Paul.

  • nvelope2003 1st Jun '16 - 1:02pm

    Instead of giving all people over 75 a free TV licence why not use the money to help those with limited incomes whatever their age ?

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