Thursday, February 26, 2015

Control freaks

A rag-bag of observations about the Culture Select Committee report on the future of the BBC.

They biffed subscription-only. Philip Davies, stroppy Tory for Shipley, was on his own there.

They backed a long-term move to a form of household levy, used in Germany, perhaps collected along with a utility bill, like electricity or water.

They want to biff the Trust. Perhaps the deciding factor was the apparent non-participation of Sir Michael Lyons in the 2010 licence fee carve-up-over-a-weekend, presided over by Mark Thompson and Jeremy Hunt.

Pre-report publication, they rejected a call to freeze the licence fee, sought by Philip Davies and Conor Burns for the Tories, and Gerry Sutcliffe, for Labour. Shy retiring Paul Farrelly, Labour, once of Reuters, the Indie and the Observer, had lots of detailed amendments turned down, as did John Leech for the LibDems, formerly of MacDonalds and the RAC.

They came down pretty hard against the idea of BBC1 +1 as a use of the broadcast slot vacated by BBC3. The Trust will have to take note.

They want yet another independent review body set up to inform Charter negotiations. I feel tired already.

They like the idea of the last independent review body, under Lord Burns, to set up a Public Service Broadcasting Commission, appointed by the Government, to "advise" the BBC, and to advise the Government on the amount of funding it should get. Quangomania is complete under this structure with Ofcom getting responsibility for the supervision of BBC impartiality, and thus the wagons are circled in a ringfence of command and control with little obvious public access to the process apart from voting in General Elections. The new BBC Board, and whoever leads it, will have little time for the day job, under a tidal wave of scrutiny appearances and report preparation. Here's my take...

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