The BBC….What’s It For Exactly?



There are two main issues about the future of the BBC that are under discussion…what is the purpose of the BBC and how should it be funded?

The BBC believes the two are inseparable…only the licence fee funding structure can maintain the unique service that the BBC tells us the BBC provides….and that no other funding structure could.

Personally I don’t see that…it provides nothing that a commercial broadcaster can’t in the way of entertainmment, news and ‘social capital’ and the licence fee is by no means the most successful or viable option.

The one thing the BBC does have, despite its loud disclaimers, is a close relationship with the government.  The BBC world service broadcasts to the world a particular view of how life should be lived, a cultural, social and political ideology beamed into the homes and minds of millions if not billions of citizens around the world….‘an overt and directed instrument of British foreign policy,  a voice within a strategy of public diplomacy.’

The satellite dish and the internet are now among the greatest enemies of tyranny (then UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Straw 2002)

The BBC on home turf is not so very different…it sees itself as the principle diviner of moral values, the  educator and guide for those who have lost their way through ignorance or prejudice, a social, political and spiritual authority providing the nation with the correct message.

Mark Thompson admitted that the BBC was no longer just a broadcaster, the corporation was to be a social force in the land, he said. The corporation was an “important builder of social capital, seeking to increase social cohesion and tolerance”, which in future would try to “foster audience understanding of differences of ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality, age and ability or disability.


This outlook has been inherited by his replacement Tony Hall who during the Parliamentary inquiry into the future of the BBC has said that :
‘The BBC is a vitally important organisation…the greatest cultural force in Britain in my view…It is the passion that we all want to bring to what we do. Serving all audiences.  That universality is absolutely key to the BBC, to what we do.’


A ‘vitally important organisation’?  Or one doing a job that any other broadcaster could do?

‘The greatest cultural force in Britain’?  It certainly has a uniquely powerful position, completely dominating the airwaves and the internet…but if it is so powerful it should also be under intense scrutiny…it should not be able to hide explosive and highly damaging reports such as the Balen Report and all contacts between journalists and politicians, pressure groups such as Green Peace, scientists etc should be open to inspection, if not to the public then to an independent reviewer.…it should be utterly blameless in its approach to reporting and held strictly to account for its activities…it should be entirely open about such activities and the decision making process that produced them.

‘Serving all audiences’?  Hardly….it serves only one audience….those who adhere to its own particular liberal, progressive world view.  If you have doubts about immigration, climate change, Islam or Europe you are shut out of the debate…the debate that is carried on is within very narrowly defined limits.  So no, ‘universality’ is paid lip service to, but in practise the BBC does not represent the vast majority of cultural and political views of a major proportion of this nation’s population.



During that recent Parliamentary questioning of Lord Hall and others they delved into these matters…and as said they claimed that the licence fee was the only way to fund the BBC…here the answers are variously from Hall or James Purnell about BBC funding:


Q600 Mr Bradshaw: Could you clear up what the BBC’s current thinking is on both the licence fee and subscription, limited or otherwise?
Lord Hall of Birkenhead: Yes. On the licence fee, we believe it is a system that “ain’t broke”……the licence fee does a number of things. For 40 pence a day everybody in this country can enjoy first-class programmes and services.
Secondly, for that 40 pence a day we are not in competition for revenues with either Sky or ITV, or indeed with Channel 4, and what you get back from that is a broadcasting ecology that I think is the envy of the world.
You know this. You just have to go beyond these shores. Leave this country for 10 minutes and you realise that what we have here is very precious.
The system is working.

James Purnell carries on…..

The fact that we are confident the licence fee is the best way of funding the BBC makes us very open to having discussions because we are pretty confident that the arguments show that it works in practice and in theory.
We very much welcome a debate because if you have a strong idea that you believe in, testing it is a very good thing.

We think it might be pretty hard to raise the money to fund the costs of the services. Nowhere else in the world are the kinds of services that you are talking about funded commercially through subscription, certainly not without advertising. We think it may well not work even from the point of view of whether you could raise the money to cover the services, but even if you could we are not sure it is a terribly attractive idea in practice. We tried to model it. We said let us say that the services you put in the top-up would be BBC Three, BBC Four, online and iPlayer. That would save a household only £1.40 a month. They would be losing all of those services for £1.40 a month. If they then wanted to pay to get them all back, they would be paying twice the licence fee that they are at the moment.



Note that line:

‘We think it might be pretty hard to raise the money to fund the costs of the services [other than by the licence fee]’


And note he says advertising is a major factor.



Sky doesn’t seem to have a problem raising money…they have around 10 million TV customers and raise nearly £6 billion…the BBC has over 25 million licence payers raising nearly £4 billion.

Here are Sky’s figures for 2013..note that advertising plays a relatively small role in its revenue stream:

Our business model
Sky is Britain and Ireland’s leading entertainment and communications provider. As at 30 June 2013, we had 11.2 million customers taking a total of 31.6 million products.

Retail subscription revenue grew by 6% to £5,951 million (2012: £5,593 million), reflecting continued product and customer growth and the benefit of the price rise which came into effect in September 2012. Sky Business returned to growth in the second half to achieve revenue growth of 1% for the full year.
We delivered a strong performance in wholesale subscription revenue which increased by 13% to £396 million (2012: £351 million). Although the volume of wholesale subscribers was flat year on year, we continue to benefit from greater take-up of Sky premium channels on other platforms.
Advertising revenue was flat year on year at £440 million (2012: £440 million), despite the impact of the Olympics in our first quarter. Sky Media gained market share across the year to reach 22.2%, with the majority of this growth underpinned by increased ratings for our media partner channels, with whom we share revenue upside. AdSmart, our tailored advertising product, is on track to launch early in 2013/14 with good interest from potential advertisers.
Installation, hardware and service revenue of £87 million was lower year on year (2012: £98 million) driven by improved product reliability, an increased number of customer self-installations, and higher right-first-time engineer visits.
Other revenue increased by 17% to £361 million (2012: £309 million) due to continued strong performance from Sky Bet which saw an increase in unique users in the year, and growth in international programme sales due to more original commissions.



The BBC states that the complex nature of its output, the need for independence from government, and simplicity of collection mean that only the licence fee structure can work.

Clearly that isn’t true…Sky offers a tremendous range of products, it takes in a huge amount of revenue not dependent on advertising, a subscription payment method would obviously be technically possible and the technology is proven…the BBC are already looking at blocking the iPlayer for those who haven’t paid the licence fee which indicates they can similarly control access to other television broadcasts. A subscription payment system would also loosen the government’s grip on the BBC’s finances.


Of course when you have looked at the funding method you might then look at what is the purpose of the BBC and does it uniquely provide that service?

The BBC sees itself as providing ‘social capital’, a ‘public good’, and most importantly a ‘shared experience’ that unites the nation as they talk about the same TV programmes around the water cooler at work.  It clams only the BBC can provide such an experience.

But the BBC doesn’t provide that any longer, or no more than any other broadcaster or media provider.

The BBC doesn’t represent the views of the majority, instead it lectures and preaches to them, filling the airwaves with programmes designed to make you ‘think again’ about immigration, or programmes with messages about climate change shoehorned into them, or news broadcasts so one sided that they would make any Soviet era propagandist look on in envious admiration.

There is nothing really unique about the BBC any longer, there is nothing it can do better, cheaper or in a more principled manner than any commercial rival and its claim to the moral highground has long since been surrendered to political correctness and the desire to undermine everything ‘British’… fact rather than working to provide a shared experience it does the opposite trying to cater to all ‘communities’ as they now see Britain as being made up of…and that means British history must be deconstructed and rewritten to make the ‘new’ Britons feel good about themselves and their heritage even if it means trashing Britain and making those immigrants more likely to hate Britain than to love it and its culture…and hence unwilling to integrate….so no ‘one nation’ there due to the likes of the BBC who presumably are merely echoing what Muslim ‘conservatives’ like the once head of the MCB, Iqbal Sacranie, said….‘no other language or culture should be treated as the ‘norm’ and that the British should only be treated as one community in a community of communities.’

Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, explains why the BBC cannot continue in its present form as Hall & Co would like:


Forget the licence fee: Why Game of Thrones damns the case for a universal BBC

If we did create the BBC now, it’s likely we’d limit its activities to pure public service broadcasting – things which would not be produced or would be under-produced in the broader market. This would require one public TV channel and one radio station at most.

The BBC knows this, so instead tries to justify its privileged position by claiming that it serves a wider “instrumental purpose” by “building a stronger sense of community through shared experiences”. But this is based on a false premise: that a genuine free market in broadcasting could not deliver shared experiences.




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19 Responses to The BBC….What’s It For Exactly?

  1. Joe Public says:

    The consumer is king.

    The consumer MUST be given the choice of propaganda source they prefer to support financially.


  2. Max Roberts says:

    How can the BBC create shared experiences when it slices and dices audiences between different TV channels and radio stations, including local ones? You can’t cater for minorities, and then claim some sort of national bonding role, quite the opposite. This argument results in the BBC contradicting itself when you start poking about the logic.

    The cohesion argument might have been true 30 years ago, when I could go into school on a Friday and I could say to everyone “did you see Tomorrows World last night” and the chances are, most people had (only on Friday, because for some reason BBC1 was only worth watching throughout on a Thursday night).

    Could that happen now? Not really, all audiences are down, and what we do is create our own ‘shared experiences’, for example by reading and commenting on this blog. People align themselves by their own personal interests these days, and that must terrify any monopolistic organisation that functions on the basis of putting people into neat categories in order to demonstrate that it is doing a good worthy job serving them.

    The only way in which something like ‘Pets Win Prizes’ serves a valuable social cohesion function is that it we can all talk about it here as an example of just how ridiculous the BBC claims of worthiness can get.

    Ryan Bourne hints at a good solution, but doesn’t quite follow through with a plan of action. We need to find all the programming that is different from what is provided by the private sector, or could be, work out what is unique irreplacable BBC content, and how many hours it needs per day. Two or three at the most? Not even a whole TV channel to itself.


  3. David Brims says:

    ”The BBC….What’s It For Exactly?”

    To rub our noses in diversity.


  4. deegee says:

    What does the Arabic in the photograph used to illustrate this post say?


  5. Doublethinker says:

    What is the BBC for?
    The BBC is a vital tool of the the liberal left establishment ( LLE ) in their social re-engineering of Britain. It ruthlessly promotes their view and suppresses any conflicting views. It does this more or less openly with its news and current affairs content and insidiously via its drama and documentaries. It seeks to ridicule and demonise anyone who speaks out for views other than those of the LLE. It suppresses or distorts facts that don’t fit with the LLE view and resorts to outright lies when necessary.
    The BBC has done ,and continues to do, immense harm to democracy and society in this country. As long as the BBC exists in its current state funded form it will continue to lead the attack on our democracy and liberty.


    • Merched Becca says:

      “important builder of social capital, seeking to increase social cohesion and tolerance”, which in future would try to “foster audience understanding of differences of ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality, age and ability or disability.” Does this apply to its ‘World Service’ ? If so its not doing a very good job is it ? Who pays for its World Service broadcasts ?


      • Wild says:

        The BBC redistributes wealth and power (in the form of employment and media dominance) to middle class Socialists.

        It has nothing to be with democracy. Nothing to do with choice. It is a gravy train for Left Wing public schoolboys who were not clever enough to make money in the City, or become medical specialists or lawyers, not creative enough to invent something useful, and too lazy and risk averse to setting up their own business, oh an (last but not least) too spineless and selfish to serve in the Armed Forces. What they do have is a sense of entitlement which gives them (in their eyes) permission to hate and steal from everybody else.

        To work for the BBC is the spiritual equivalent of fungus that grows in rotting wood.


  6. barry says:

    Seems to me that if the BBC had to raise capital as a commercial company then the poor, who the BBC claims watch more TV, would get a cheaper deal.


  7. dave s says:

    What is the BBC? Beats me.
    I know what roads are for and water pipes and gas pipes but the BBC?
    It has no utility. Maybe oneday it did. That is in the past like the steam locomotive. Time to get rid of it and let the people decide how and when they want entertainment. And how to pay for it.


  8. The BBC, like any other bloated bureucracy, exists to protect itself.


  9. H.Upmann says:

    What is the BBC for?
    The BBC is for telling people what they are supposed to think.


  10. Old Goat says:

    What’s the BBC for?

    It’s for itself, no more, no less.


  11. johnnythefish says:

    The BBC can still produce some very high quality, informative and entertaining programmes without pushing one of its many agendas – subtly or otherwise.

    Trouble is, they are getting increasingly difficult to find. In fact, very difficult to find.


  12. Philip says:

    What would we do without THEM? (answer: we would not be in the EU in the first place!). This report dated: 23.10.2011
    ‘An investigative report says the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been pocketing millions of pounds in EU’s aid money, putting a big question mark on its impartiality claims.’… The BBC has never been impartial. Since John Birt (BBC DG 1984) the Communist party remerged (under Labour) to take over all senior ‘Civel Service’ and the BBC employment expansion became a clear political ambition (modeled on the ‘pro EU’ Guardian’ newspaper. Without much investigative impartial reporting. It is now the mouthpiece of the EU, all power having gone to Brussels, it takes money from Qatar and the EU as well as the UK license – so despised by the English who are forced to pay for the propaganda as well as ‘comedy drama’ which is a parody of all things English. Oh heck what is the bloody BBC ir really good for is undermining English democracy and British Patriotism. It does that well enough.


  13. s.trubble says:

    The BBC exists solely for the future creation of Noel Edmonds (ii)


  14. Wild says:

    ‘it provides nothing that a commercial broadcaster can’t’ Maybe your blind? I’ll name one: children’s programmes.

    It would be better to tell children to find out about the world for themselves. Pretty much all of the output of the BBC is contaminated by Leftist sermonising i.e. the sanctimonious intolerance and lies of people whose only life skills are leeching off the taxpayer.

    ‘The BBC world service ‘ – not funded by the licence fee.’

    But run by the BBC and funded by the taxpayer.

    ‘The BBC… sees itself as the principle diviner of moral values’ – No, it doesn’t.

    Oh yes it does.

    ‘Sky doesn’t seem to have a problem raising money’ – right, but try adding a commercial BBC into the mix and see the effect on the market.

    Yeah giving people a choice. The horror. Instead let’s have 64 varieties of Stalinist crap. Now for our latest Jew hating report from Israel.

    The one statement I agree with is this: ‘If we did create the BBC now, it’s likely we’d limit its activities to pure public service broadcasting ‘. Just as if we were creating a society from scratch we wouldn’t have a Royal family”

    Who is this we? Name me a society without a ruling elite. Go on, try thinking for yourself for once.

    “Its worked for a long time, and very little cost and if we were to remove it because in principle it shouldn’t be, then we’d all be much poorer in ways we probably couldn’t even foresee.”

    Scrapping the BBC would be the greatest single blow to the Left in this Country since the creation of the Internet, and you know it.