Will you need to pay the government to use a computer?

Is the government going to be driving around with “Computer detector vans” soon? Will you need to pay the government to use a computer?

The BBC faces losing hundreds of thousands of pounds in licence fees because of a legal loophole that allows viewers to watch television on the internet for free.

Soaring take-up of broadband and technological developments are making internet-streamed television a reality.

Last summer, for the first time, the BBC broadcast coverage of the Olympic Games live on the internet for people to watch on their computers. It has promised to put further broadcasts on the internet as part of a corporate social responsibility drive aimed at boosting broadband take-up and preventing users “falling on the wrong side of the digital divide”.

However, although the licensing authorities maintain that anyone watching television on their computer would need a television licence, Ofcom, the communications regulator, and the Department for Culture, question that claim.

Ofcom says that there is a grey area as to whether a licence is required for watching television on the internet.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture said initially that a licence would not be needed and that it was “monitoring the situation”.

However, it later said that it would be “inappropriate for the Government to comment on licensing requirements . . . for specific types of equipment”.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

EU Serf sends us this report:

Kyoto Week, Blame Bush

With the expensive and badly conceived Kyoto treaty the major news of the week, the BBC has been running full steam to blame everything on Bush.

This morning whilst getting my daily dose of Bush-hating bias, BBC World News ran a story on the coal industry in the USA. In summary the story was something like this:

Coal industry chiefs are gathering at a trade show in Las Vegas, where equipment manufacturers are recording a boom in sales. The reason is that the coal industry is doing well, with high demand and prices. By talking about the Bush White House we are lead to believe that somehow the administration is the reason for this bonanza. In fact, the story wraps up with the line:

With President Bush in the White House for another 4 years, the coal industry is looking forward to more good times ahead.

This is a gross misrepresentation of the situation as five minutes of googling proved to me.

1) Coal prices have been rising worldwide, on the back of demand from China and other developing countries:

Prices for thermal coal used to fuel power plants are expected to reach new highs in 2005, buoyed by continued international economic growth and surging demand for electricity…

The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market, representing 4% of world trade, and is growing 10% annually because of increasing demand from developing countries, including China.

This has nothing to do with the US Government and everything to doing with world markets.

“World thermal coal prices will still remain high in historic terms next year”, at $50 to $55 per metric ton.

To put that into perspective, $50 a barrel of oil is equivalent to $350 per ton. With rising energy prices in general it is hardly surprising that coal prices are rising.

2) Unlike Europeans, the USA is not subsidizing its coal industry. The only bone of contention for US environmentalists is US government-backed research.

Coal production and subsidies have fallen across the EU in recent years, but remain relatively high in Germany, with Euro 2.2bn in support earmarked for 2004, for example…

Domestic coal prices in Germany have been more than three times the import price.

European countries, despite their green credentials are actually subsidizing production of this dirty fuel. Meanwhile, what is the US doing?

The budget includes $447 million for the president’s Coal Research Initiative, a $69 million increase over 2004 levels.

Investing in clean coal research, the bastards. I don’t know if this is a hidden subsidy or not but note the difference in scale of the payments.

3) European companies are investing heavily in the American coal industry:

Most of the foreign investment in U.S. coal has been from Europe.

So clean green Europeans are also benefiting.

4) Surely rising coal prices are a good thing. They create incentives for new energy-efficient technology, renewable energy and better conservation.

In their rush to blame Bush, the BBC gives a totally unprofessional, biased and ignorant piece on an industry they obviously do not understand.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

The Guardian:

Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, and Lord Birt, the No 10 policy adviser, are at odds over proposals that would force the corporation to share some of its £2.8bn licence fee income with commercial rivals.

Ms Jowell, who has been putting the final touches to a green paper on the BBC charter, is determined to fend off proposals for a new external regulator of the corporation and ensure it is allowed to keep all the money raised by the licence fee.

But Lord Birt, a former director general of the BBC, is believed to have backed the recommendations of a panel chaired by his friend Lord Burns, under which the corporation would be governed by a new regulator with the power to redistribute a proportion of the licence fee to other broadcasters.

Read the rest here.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

From The Telegraph:

The BBC apologised yesterday for an item on a religious programme that angered the Jewish community by “demonising” Israel.

Dozens of complaints have been received about a story on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day during the Today programme that suggested a Muslim corporal in the Israeli army had been jailed for refusing to shoot Palestinian children.

The contributor, the Rev Dr John Bell, also apologised and admitted his story could have been interpreted as “furtive racism” at a time when “Jewish sensitivity in Britain is running high because of anti-Semitism”.

Read the rest here. The Guardian’s report here.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

I’ve got some analysis of Nik Gowing’s claims at Blithering Bunny. Needless to say, he adduces virtually very little evidence to support them.

If the BBC won’t sack him (as I expect they won’t – he’s more likely to be promoted than sacked), then I look forward to many years of fun at Mr Gowing’s expense.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

From The Times:

THE BBC’s £2.8 billion licence fee is safe for the next ten years but will not survive into the digital age, ministers have decided.

The long-awaited Green Paper on the future of the BBC, which is due this month, will recommend that a sweeping review of the broadcasting industry is started shortly after 2012, paving the way for major changes in funding to reflect the digital revolution, The Times has learnt. The Green Paper, which sets out the Government’s conditions for renewing the ten-year royal charter in 2007, is currently circulating around Whitehall awaiting the approval of other key departments, including Downing Street.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

BBC News, in its wisdom, has decided that one of the main headlines of the day is a protest march against America’s decision not to sign Kyoto. Yes, really. This is one of the biggest news stories of the day. Literally “hundreds” of protesters are expected. Wow. Even if that figure is accurate – and the leftist media has a habit of exaggerating the numbers for these protests – so what? These protest marches are a dime a dozen. Few people care much any more about them. I don’t mean that people aren’t interested in these issues (and many may in fact have some agreement with the sentiments expressed), but they’re not much interested in the marches, which are manned by the usual suspects.

One protester was interviewed by BBC, and the BBC sought fit to broadcast his quoting of a Native American saying, which went something along the lines of “Only when the last tree is cut, only when the last river is polluted, only when the last fish is caught, will they realise that you can’t eat money”. Sounds more like a modern greeny invention to me than a Native American saying (it can’t be that old, either, if it refers to money), but the journalist – someone called Graeme – said “Yes, a wise old Native American saying”. I really wonder whether the BBC was just taking the piss here.

P.S. Eason Jordan, CNN’s News Executive, has resigned after massive pressure from bloggers (but not from the MSM, who tried to ignore the story), after he claimed (at a Davos session) that the US military deliberately targetted and killed journalists in Iraq.

What led to his resignation was not so much the claim, but his bungling attempts at backtracking and cover-up, which kept the story simmering for weeks. If he’d simply said “I was wrong, and I apologise”, the storm would probably have blown over.

Instapundit has a round-up of some links, and Chrenkoff has some links to show that this sort of accusation is not new.

P.P.S. Plaudits to the BBC, though, for continuing to do good work on Zimbabwe. Another investigation is on News 24 at the moment.

PPPS. Saw another BBC interview with a Green Party member on this protest march. She said that the Bush administration is “ruled by oil interests” (yawn), and there should be a tax on US imports, because they’re freeloading by not signing up to these international agreements. The reporter, Graeme someone, said “Wouldn’t the action required to really make a difference on greenhouse have a major impact on the economy?” Yes, she said, but this wouldn’t necessarily be negative, because 40% of our energy needs can be met by using existing conservation techniques. If we used these techniques, then we’d all be better off, and poor people wouldn’t be as cold in winter. (Really. I’m not making this up).

PPPPSSZZZzzz… Matthew Parris on tonight’s BBC docu on Howard. Kenneth Clark’s going to speak. Who would ever have guessed? And here’s another shocker – Ann Wiiddecombe! Didn’t see that one coming. And Hugh Dyke, a former Tory who quit the party to join the Lib Dems.

Scott Campbell

(from Blithering Bunny)

Nicholas Vance has another good post up today at Last Night’s BBC News, about the PC blather that is in the BBC’s new manifesto as they attempt to get their Royal Charter renewed (and follow the link to The Telegraph story).

On that note, I liked this letter to The Times recently:

I have recently paid my BBC licence fee and the debate about the future of its royal charter has given me an idea (A brief guide to unconscious BBC bias, Comment, last week). The government should publish a left-leaning newspaper (with no advertising) distributed here and abroad. To pay for it, it should introduce a newspaper reading licence of, say, £150 to be paid only by those who live in the UK.

If you are caught reading a newspaper, even one you have paid for, without holding a valid newspaper reading licence, you would face a hefty fine or even a spell in prison. Neighbours would be encouraged to rat on those whom they know haven’t paid their licence. Those who support the existing principle of the BBC licence fee will support this idea of a licence, I’m sure.

Reg Bamford

London SW15