Controlling the BBC

There are some things that governments should control, in the interests of protecting the people that they govern, but do not control. Some things are beyond the control of governments, other things are too complex to control because attempts to control them have unintended consequences and other things governments are too corrupt to control.

The UK government is threatening to control the BBC licence fee. For generations this fee, payable by everyone in the UK who wants to watch a television, is hypothecated to the BBC, and as a result the BBC collects from people who live in the UK and want to watch television (nearly everyone that it) £145.50 a year. Non-payment of the licence fee is a criminal offence. 8% of the cases brought in the magistrates’ courts are prosecutions for people who did not want to pay the licence fee or could not afford it or wanted to feed their families and watch TV. If you are charged with this offence and found guilty you will have a criminal record. By contrast, if you fail to pay your income tax of a much greater amount you will be fined, but not prosecuted. It is a kind of a council tax on every home.

Controlling the licence fee is not about controlling freedom of expression. I am free to write what I like on these pages and the BBC does not need vast sums of money from taxpayers to ensure that it is free to say what it wants.

The £3.5 billion that the BBC collects is spent largely on providing televisions and radio services but so much of the expenditure is spent on overly high salaries for presenters and managers. The old bankers’ bonus argument is trotted out when licence payers complain about the stipends beyond the dreams of avarice that some BBC people get- you have to recruit the best and that costs money.

It is possible for governments to control BBC expenditure. The easiest method of control is to limit the licence fee to a smaller sum, limit the salaries paid to managers and so called talent and make the BBC more efficient. Perhaps the BBC does not need the splendid headquarters it has built for itself in Portland Place at a cost of more than £1.1 billion; if the quality of journalism depended on them working in grandiose structures there would be few journalists. Nevertheless once the BBC has captured the money it spends it on making its own people wealthier and finer, and one gets the impression that the BBC thinks it deserves what it gets.

This waste is not beyond the control if government neither is it too complex to control; ultimately politicians want their voices to be heard and the BBC amplifies the voices of politicians, which means, quite simply governments are too corrupt to control the BBC.

One Response

  1. Then see the next stage of controlling the big lies, now being protected by the BBC, now rife in the states.

    Remember where you saw this model taking place.

    Record sale in thermometers maybe.

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