Thursday 18 October 2007

BBC Job cuts

With my 'back to the 1970's theme ' hat on I see that the NUJ has been out today threatening BBC management for daring to suggest 1,800 job cuts.

This for everyone not losing their job is good news; firstly many of the jobs will go through natural wastage in any event. Secondly the BBC has been expanding hugely in the last 10 years and there is no reason to continue its growth at this rate.

However we are stuck with the BBC until 2016 thanks to the new licence agreement. This is potentially 3 elections away.

My plan for the BBC would be as follows:

1. Scrap the licence fee. this is a very regressive tax that affects the poor disproportionately. instead fund any public broadcasting out of the government general fund.
2. If the government wants to continue to subsidise the television sector then it should offer tax cuts as an incentive to produce rather than penal charges to consume.
3. To keep a certain amount of public broadcasting on the television the government should take up David Elstein's brilliant idea of auctioning off subsidy to make and show specific programmes.
4. With this in place the BBC could be fully commercialised. I happen to be of the opinion that its output will be better than now with the added vie of privatisation.
5. Funds also withdrawn from Channel 4 as this channel too should not need any good subsidy.

We would have a stronger, more vibrant and more cost efficient television sector overall.

Whenever the BBLefties go on about quality just remember who made The Soprano's, 24 and the West Wing and who makes What not to Wear, Spooks and Holby City?


Anonymous said...

You are being unnecessarily subtle. All that's required is:-
Win election. Sell BBC. Done.

CityUnslicker said...

£3 billion a year would do the inheritance tax cut...mybe your right!

Anonymous said...

Being a former NUJ member, I sympathise with those who stand to lose their jobs. The BBC is so outdated anyway. I friend of mine has just taken early retirement from the BBC and is going for a total career change, learning how to repair clocks. And moving out of London to somewhere green and hilly. I don't think it will be long before the BBC launches its own interactive tv on the internet, where it has to be honest and transparent.

I thought you would be interested in this link, you may already know, the IMF top economist has started a blog:

Mark Wadsworth said...

1, 4 and 5 agreed.
3 I'll defer to you
2 - no way, not ever. A tax break is a subsidy that has to be paid out of other people's taxes. These film people already get a billion or so in bungs!

Altho' Dearime's suggestion has the merit of being even simpler. And simple = good.

Anyway, what are the NUJ going to do? Go on strike? With the number of rival channels and websites around nowadays, who is going to give a stuff, frankly?

Anonymous said...

"Win election. Sell BBC. Done."

would prefer:-

Win election, break BBC up into small, safe pieces, sell pieces.Done

CityUnslicker said...

Ellee - thanks for the link. I am sure those with jobs under threat are unhappy as any of us would be personally.However you can argue at the BBC that many people there are doing jobs that simmply don't need to be done.

there cannot be much job satisfaction in that.

Bill Quango MP said...

Why are the BBC acting like NUT members?
Less money ! well we will have to close schools it's the only solution.

Less money ! well we will have to make less programs and show more repeats.

Do they really need ALL these journalists at the rugby for instance ?

Really, can't BBC 4 just appear on BBC 2 instead ?
Look at BBC 3. Does Little Britain really need it's own channel?

At the very least BBC 4 and 3 can combine to one station saving a fair few pounds.

There are savings to be made that will have little impact on programs, output or quality.

James Higham said...

Number 1 for sure.

CityUnslicker said...

ezzler - welcome and quite right;perhaps there is some political motivation for this type of behaviour though.

Paul E. said...

1. Funding the BEEB out of a general fund would make it a state broadcaster. This would suit those who object to the concept of public service broadcasting as it would mean that the BBC could be effectively closed down under EU state-aid rules. It would also defeat the object of PSB in the first place - independent of government, investing to counteract the market failure that has effected every other broadcasting ecology in the English-speaking world (apart from the US, obviously). And 'regressive'? Not as regressive as having your kids watching adverts for three hours a day.

2. The licence fee isn't a government subsidy. There's no reason why the government couldn't offer tax cuts as an incentive as well, though the cultural sector in the UK would probably prefer a well-invested group of PSBs to tax cuts - the BBC is widely seen as the cornerstone of quality content-production in the UK - and it results in more investment in original content in the UK than the rest of the EU combined (that incluudes France by the way).

3. David Elstein has always adopted pretty-well the same position that Murdoch lobbyist have taken on the BBC. His proposal would result in the fragmentation and collapse of PSB in the UK. If you're in favour of that, fair enough. Elstein could do with being a bit more honest about this himself.

4. Quality of content would improve with privatisation? Give me one precedent outside of the US? It was a disaster in Australia, Germany and even in France. And, I'd repeat the point about investment. UK TV viewers register higher levels of satisfaction with the quality of TV than anywhere else in Europe - and programme makers get more investment than the rest of Europe put together. We make quality original TV in this country. That's rare.

And how come the UK doesn't produce content as good as The Sopranos? Well, a highly protected marketplace with six times as many viewers ensures that the US can invest in TV on a scale that even the BEEB can't - about the heaviest risk that British programme-makers can take is a six-part series with one team of writers. In the US, they can afford 24-episode flops written by a team of writers. There's a lot of shit TV that makes the small screen in the US - no-one would be able to risk that here.

Your plans here would result in almost exclusively US-originated drama on British TV within a couple of years - and a total collapse in the production of original TV drama.

I'd think about it again if I were you...

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