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The BBC versus the Tories...The Hatfields and the McCoys!
Urbane, erudite, overpaid...Jeremy Paxman.
Clash of the Titans!
This was to be a New's Year's Bulletin, but it seems to stand alone..
It is no secret that the Conservative Government and “Auntie,” the BBC, have no great affection for one another. Margaret Thatcher always maintained she won her three elections as PM “Despite the BBC.”
The BBC is undoubtedly the most privileged corporation in the free world. It has a Royal Charter since soon after its inception in 1922. It charges a yearly fee to all British residents or visitors who possess a television or radio equipment, whether they tune in to its programs or not. This fee - 145.50 pounds now - is mandatory and subject to criminal proceedings if not paid, and the company uses vans which tirelessly patrol the country checking to see who might be ‘pirating” it’s signal, as well as advising people to snitch on non-payers. This is accompanied by regular threatening advertisements telling people, basically, to pay up or go to jail!.
This fee guarantees the BBC a huge annual earnings of 4.26 billion pounds, (only Sky makes more at 5.9 billion). Not surprisingly, this fee obligation has been mired in controversy from the start with various actions being brought against the company, all loosing in one of the several levels of court hearings. Most in Britain are resigned to this daylight robbery and are, indeed, mollified by much of the excellent programs aired by the company.
The BBC are quite blatantly prejudiced against the Conservatives, although this is denied of course. In what many thought is an act of revenge, the government - which sets the fees the Beeb may charge - has frozen the fee for 6 years in 2010! The BBC, comfortable with its substantial yearly raises, has reacted in some high dudgeon saying it will have to cut the amount and quality of much of its output. In return, ministers and the public has pointed out the huge sweetheart salaries paid to BBC top journalists and others. Jeremy Paxman, the Newsnight regular presenter and University Challenge host, gets a numbing 800,000 pounds a year…Andrew Marr, their top political reporter, just 600,000!
The world’s largest broadcast employer by a margin, the BBC employs some 23,000 staff world-wide. It is governed by Trustees - 10 in number - today, replacing the old Board of Governors. They, in turn, elect a similar number of executives in charge of departments and major programs. These all enjoy attractive salaries and benefits.
Another blow to the BBC funding process was the government insisting the BBC World Service would have to be taken from the license fees and not funded separately as in the good old days.
All this has added to the animus between the Beeb and its “masters,” who have the power to set its fees and other conditions. Having no little power itself it has subtly and otherwise been critical of the coalition government and much of its spending cuts, much to the joy of Milliband and Labor.
Especially irritating, this writer imagines, is seeing the government ministers voting themselves a raise and the bankers still claiming huge bonuses while their own ability for enrichment has been curtailed as inflation eats into their profits over the next 6 years.
They need to be careful with David Cameron who is more fearless than some they have met lately as he proved in Europe. Banging heads with this prime minister might leave the Beeb with the worst headache.
By the same token, no sane administration wants this stream of world-wide news and information, with its billions of viewers and listeners, to really sour against his administration and plans, so a superficial, if uneasy, truce is the usual order of the day.