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November 12, 2006

Will Hutton on TV

Allow me to translate this into English for you:

But this is the rub. I like personalised stories, and some reality TV, but I like variety. And it is this precious mix that is at risk by making obeisance to 'the market'. Even the theorists behind the free-market fundamentalist Washington consensus no longer argue for pure market forces. Institutions and non-market values, they accept, are also crucial parts of the capitalist economy.

Which is why we should rally to the BBC, find a way to support Channel 4 and uphold the public-service broadcasting tradition within ITV, instead of saying the game is up. It's not - it's just played within different rules. That still means giving the BBC a generous licence fee while insisting it lives by its public-service remit, even down to resisting the ludicrous (allegedly market driven) pay demands of its multi-millionaire presenters. It means standing by Channel 4 and constructing a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for all forms of private TV.

'The poor should be hit with a regressive tax so that I, a wealthy upper middle class type, can get the TV I like'.

November 12, 2006 in Television | Permalink


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» I want the poor's money - give it to me! from Stephen Pollard
Tim Worstall nails the argument for the licence fee put forward by Will Hutton (and pretty much everyone else who believes in putting people in prison if they don't hand over the cash to pay for Strictly Come Dancing): The... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 12, 2006 11:39:43 AM


What's wrong with sacking Jonathan Ross and putting on some good programmes?

Posted by: james C | Nov 12, 2006 11:05:42 AM

Good programmes? Good for who? I'm with Will Hutton on this. Let's carry on throwing single mothers in prison for not paying their TV licence so that I can listen to Early Music on Radio 3, watch Attenborough chase wildlife and see the occasional opera. Seems fair to me. Not!

Posted by: MarkS | Nov 12, 2006 11:11:13 AM

Quite so Tim, quite so...

The sooner the BBC is eviscerated, the better. It's an openly leftist institution that is totally entwined with government social engineering policies.

The number of areas the BBC feels it has a right, nay an obligation, to 'provide services' in is ridiculous and provides a massive barrier to entry to anyone wanting to provide a costed service for - ie one that pays tax rather than spends it.

Bring on the flat-tax!

Posted by: Tony | Nov 12, 2006 1:10:08 PM

Scrap the licence fee. Keep Salford BBC free.

Posted by: pete | Nov 12, 2006 2:12:47 PM

It would be the best thing possible. Have the BBC showing Wagner over 3 nights and discussions about James Joyce and Joseph Conrad.

Hasten the inevitable - where the BBC enjoys so little audience share that the government can no longer justify the existence of the BBC tax.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Nov 12, 2006 3:39:11 PM

"...where the BBC enjoys so little audience share that the government can no longer justify the existence of the BBC tax"

You are assuming that's a point that can be reached.....

Posted by: JuliaM | Nov 12, 2006 5:25:13 PM

"'The poor should be hit with a regressive tax so that I, a wealthy upper middle class type, can get the TV I like'."

... without having to pay any more than those who don't want it.

Posted by: Josh | Nov 12, 2006 6:36:05 PM

Wealthy? - large house in North London, large manor house plus a bit of an estate in North Oxford - near as poor as our own dear Polly.

Posted by: John Gill | Nov 12, 2006 7:07:25 PM


Ashley Highfield (BBC Online chief) is suggesting that by 2011, only 2 BBC programs would attract an audience of more than 10 million - a royal wedding or england in a world cup final.

That's compared to 19 in 2004.

Looking at BARB figures for the year, the BBC hasn't had an audience over 10 million since the world cup.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Nov 12, 2006 9:20:21 PM

Tim Almond,

I could be wrong, but I suspect that JuliaM is not doubting that the BBC's audience could drop to a very small level. What she doubts, rather, is that the government would ever admit that the subsidy is unjustifiable.

Posted by: John Thacker | Nov 13, 2006 1:14:03 AM

The government will never drop the licence fee as it needs the BBC as a mouthpiece that it can commandeer in times of "national emergency". It's the broadcasting equivalent of all those Green Goddess fire engines that are stored in mothballs somewhere for when there's a fire strike. They will never give up the defacto "official" broadcaster status as it's too useful to them. Look how the BBC already does the government's bidding. Remember how slavishly it swung into action when the Queen Mother died. I remember being in a BBC newsroom once and seeing a small grey box with a digital display. On it was a message that reaad "RATS OK" No one would tell me what RATS stood for but they did say that the little box would display a message if one of the royals died or there was some national emergency. There would be codes for procedures to follow, presumably to halt anarchy from spreading. It all felt rather sinister to me.

Posted by: MarkS | Nov 13, 2006 8:16:31 AM