Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fixing The BBC

Blair is said to be shocked by the anti-Americanism of the BBC's coverage of Katrina. If so, he has a solution right to hand - convert it to subscription funding.

The report:

Tony Blair was shocked by the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, describing it as “full of hatred of America”, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, revealed on Friday night.

Mr Murdoch, a long-time critic of the BBC who controls rival Sky News, said the prime minister had recounted his feelings in a private conversation earlier this week in New York.

I'm inclined to believe the report - the BBC's web coverage was very duplicitous & that's where it's on its best behavior because it's monitored by the blogosphere.

The BBC is no more America-hating than the New York Times, but unlike the NYT it uses Brit criminal law to force its funding from every Brit TV owner.

This is easily solved. The Blair government has to decide by December 2006 on what terms, if any, the BBC's forced-funding should continue. A long and no doubt heavily manipulated process of consultation is in process.

The politics are interesting:

1. The BBC execs know that they won't stay fat and happy on voluntary funding, so they're fighting tooth and nail to keep the taxation model.

2. Blair has been sandbagged by the BBC, so would be delighted to make it pay its own way.

3. Brown, who is slated to take over from Blair before the next election (likely 2009) is an unknown quantity. But he's a friend of America, so probably lines up with Blair.

4. Blair's Labour party however contains many unreconstructed socialists, and they defend the BBC as the last of the nationalized industries.

5. The many other broadcasters that compete, or wish to compete, with the BBC want to see its forced-funding eliminated.

6. The Brit people don't count - they are being "consulted".

My suggestion is that Blair extends the BBC charter only until 2010, using the cover that by that date the switch to digital will be well under way. From that date, the BBC funds itself the same way its (by then) hundreds of competitors do - commercially. If its as popular as it claims, that will be easy.

All Blair has to do is get Brown on board - these modified monarchies can be useful sometimes!