The BBC in freefall

I used to admire the BBC. It’s role during WWII was stellar. In the 1960s, it brought us Monty Python and other cutting edge, very silly comedies. In the 1970s, it began making a series of marvelous historic dramas, many of which still represent the finest viewing TV has offered. But it’s been downhill lately. Some of us, of course, believe that the BBC is reprehensibly biased in its coverage about Israel, and that it is anti-Semitic and anti-American. You can see my short series of posts cataloging the BBC’s integrity-free conduct here.

But don’t just take my word for it. The BBC itself has acknowledged that it’s a left-wing, biased entity (although it refuses, irrationally, to believe that the bias that permeates it from top to bottom might, just might, leak into its news coverage).

And just the other day, the BBC got into trouble for insulting the Queen (how dare they?!), an insult that proved to be based, not on fact, but on media manipulation. (Hmmm . . . I wonder where they got the idea that media manipulation was a workable tool?)

You’d think the BBC’s travails would have bottomed out about now, but new depths of corruption just keep emerging. The latest report is that the BBC has had to stop phone-in competitions because of rampant institutional dishonesty:

The BBC is to suspend all its phone-in competitions after the Corporation’s Trust expressed concerns about “significant failures of control and compliance”.

An editorial review revealed viewers had been misled in shows including Comic Relief and Children In Need, some of which featured fictitious winners of phone-in competitions.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, said the failures within the corporation and by its suppliers, have “compromised the BBC’s values of accuracy and honesty”.

“There is no excuse for deception,” he said.

“I know the idea of deceiving the public would simply never occur to most people in the BBC.

“It is far better to accept a production problem and make a clean breast to the public than to deceive.”

The Trust said the additional editorial failings showed “further deeply disappointing evidence of insufficient understanding amongst certain staff of the standards of accuracy and honesty expected, and inadequate editorial controls to ensure compliance with those standards.”

It added: “We have made clear that we regard any deception or breach of faith with our audiences as being utterly unacceptable.”

All phone-related competitions on BBC TV and radio will cease from midnight tonight, while interactive and online competitions will be taken down as soon as possible.

(You can read the rest of the story here.)

I wonder if Britain’s famous betting shops are making book on the specific date of the Beeb’s ultimate demise.  If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on an early date.

Incidentally, it’s worth keeping in mind the rampant bias and dishonesty you see at the Beeb the next time you hear someone trumpeting a renewal of the Fairness Doctrine.  I know that the Left has always loved the BBC:  to them, it’s so pure, uncorrupted by those nasty market forces.  And it’s true, as I noted at the beginning of this post, that the ability to ignore the market meant that the BBC could broadcast wacky, experimental comedy, and that it could create historical costume dramas that appealed to the elite, rather than the masses.  Certainly when I lived in Britain, on the rare occasions I had access to a TV, I was charmed by the complete absence of commercials, and did appreciate that there were certain high quality shows that would not then have found an outlet in America other than taxpayer funded PBS.  There was also a lot of drek on British TV, but I was so delighted by the “British-ness” of it all, that I let it pass.

But those silly comedies and high dramas come at a high price.  Without serious competition, and without the need to respond to the public needs, the BBC has had no restraints on it.  This is quite different from what happened in America, where the free market revealed that Americans were hungry for conservative commentary.  And while it’s true that American network television has hewed to the Left, the nagging fear of the conservative market has kept network TV from becoming quite as biased and unhinged as the BBC.   Insert a Fairness Doctrine, though, and we’ll be BBC’d all over here, with all the bias and corruption that flows from a powerful organization having a stranglehold on the marketplace of ideas.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    But Bush lied and Blair sexed it up, Book.

  • Trimegistus

    The BBC did _not_ do stellar work during World War II. Before the war they muzzled Winston Churchill, refusing to broadcast any of his warnings about German rearmament or the woeful state of the RAF. Then as now they only presented the opinions of England’s elite. Once war was declared, the BBC came under the control of the war information office, and dutifully produced morale-builders and propaganda.

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    Thanks, Tri. I knew about their wartime broadcasts, not about their dismal pre-war performance.

  • http://deleted Jose

    This is unacceptable for an organization that is funded by mandatory licensing dues from every TV or radio owner in the country, whether they watch/listen to BBC or not.

    I believe the annual license for a color TV was about L50 ($100) when I left the UK 15 years ago.

    Interestingly, blind owners of color TVs get a discount, but pay more than owners of B/W TVs.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    This is unacceptable for an organization that is funded by mandatory licensing dues from every TV or radio owner in the country, whether they watch/listen to BBC or not.
    But this is how you keep the peons and volks down. You make them want tyranny and repression, because their very lives and wages have been invested into the system. The thinking goes that if you make people pay for the BBC, then even if they don’t like the BBC, they’ll want to watch it anyways simply because they can feel entitled to the BBC because of their enforced taxation. And the more they watch the BBC and see it as their own, the more the thought police reigns supreme ideologically.

    Welfare feeds on itself. Sort of like evil and terrorism.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    There were some reports that said Cubans said they would miss castro when he was dead and gone.

    Think about that for a second. Tyranny exists upon the premise that you control the population, but the only way to truly control a group is to make the group think that they are the ones in control of their own destinies.

  • expat

    I don’t know how much of CNN International programming is shown in the US, but it is the number of exBBCers I see on CNN Int is amazing. Globalization, homogenization, whatever.

  • JJ

    Actually the BBC has had competition for years – Thames came along in the 1960s – but it’s a peculiar sort of competition, in that it doesn’t have an affect on funding.

    In other words, you still had to pay for a license to own a television, even if you never watched a BBC program (excuse me, “programme”) even once during the life of the set. They still got their annual contribution from you whether or not you ever watched or found them relevant.

    And it’s worse these days – there’s Thames, ITN, now SKY, etc., plenty of competition – but everyone who owns a tube still gets to contribute to the Beeb. There could, in theory, come a time when not one single set in England is tuned to the BBC, but everybody’ll STILL be funding it – now there’s bureaucratic nirvana!

    A very different country when I lived there, though. I knew half a dozen people who didn’t even bother to own a TV, they found it all so uninteresting. (I finally broke down and bought one after I’d been there about five months, but it took every minute of five months.) What I always liked about them as a people at that time, though, was that every afternoon at close of business, there was about an hour there when you couldn’t move inside any bookstore in central London. They were elbow-to-elbow packed, every day, with people buying books. You didn’t go near the big stores – Foyle’s, Hatchard’s – at that time of day.

    The British READ omnivorously in those days, and the tube was kind of a silly luxury. Everybody had a radio, of course, but they were all listening to Radio 3 and 4 – not the daily topical programming.

    Probably all different now – there are probably spiderwebs all over Hatchard’s…

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    It is always harder to brainwash people via the radio.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Bookie,
    I actually listen and read the BBC on a regular basis. It is almost a religious institution – Global Warming is its religion. Gets old after awhile – that and this

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  • Chris

    I wonder if anyone ever asked the Britons if the BBC’s famous programming was what they actually wanted to watch?