BBC licensing fees are an anachronism in the age of streaming – LEO MCKINSTRY | Leo McKinstry | Columnists | Comment
The current regulations will apparently be the last. For an organization that raises £3.75billion a year from the mandatory charge, this new approach will have a huge impact on its funding and structure – which is exactly what Dorries wants. “The days of state television are over,” said one of his allies triumphantly. High-ranking conservative politicians have often used such language in the past without taking any action.
In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet was almost constantly at war with the BBC, but even the Iron Lady did little to diminish its size or influence. But this time, Dorries looks serious. A former NHS nurse, who was brought up in a council estate and trained in a working-class Liverpool compound, she has a much tougher background than most Tory MPs.
Moreover, her enormous success as a best-selling novelist gives her powerful credibility as a cultural voice in modern Britain, while her dislike of the Corporation’s political position is genuine. “The BBC favors strident, very leftist, often hypocritical and often condescending views,” she said.
INEVITABLY, his politics will provoke outrage among the metropolitan talkative classes, who revere the Corporation precisely because its progressive ethos matches their own. Yet for all the vitriol that will be directed at Dorries, the BBC has helped bring about this crisis on itself through its ideological groupthink and bureaucratic extravagance.
In 1937, Tory MP Sir Henry Channon wrote bitterly in his diary that “the BBC is very red, or at least very rosy, in its programs and the propaganda it puts out”. It is just as true today. From drama to documentary, there is an obsession with issues of diversity, climate change and social inclusion.
Once an innocent fantasy, Dr Who is now dominated by mass messages about fighting bigotry. News programs give disproportionate weight to reporting on crises in the public sector and complaints from pressure groups about “chronic underfunding”.
Even radio panel games are not free from aggressive identity politics. Just last week, Nigel Rees, who has hosted Quote, Unquote for 46 years, announced his resignation over his exasperation with the box-ticking mentality that now pervades editorial decisions.
The dedication to virtue signaling indoctrination can also be seen in the £100m TV budget the BBC devotes exclusively to ‘diverse and inclusive content’ or in the staff networks that proliferate across the organization , like BBC Pride to bring “people of all sexualities together”. and BBC Embrace, a group for “discussing BAME-related issues”. In a similar vein, last year’s BBC annual report revealed that June Sarpong, the “director of creative diversity” , was on a salary of £267,000.
Indeed, this report is a monument to the excesses of the BBC. Backed by the vast largesse of license fees, the Company has no business imperative to focus on value for money. Thus, a fortune is wasted on inflated salaries for on-screen stars and the creation of inflated hierarchical empires.
The £1million packages for football presenter Gary Lineker and Radio 2’s Zoe Ball have rightly become notorious, but equally offensive are the colossal payouts of endless managers, like a communications director on 225 £000. In the 2021 annual report, I counted no less than 10 Human Resources Directors, all with more than £154,000 a year.
NONE of these sprawling bureaucracies has much to do with creating programs, which the public truly cherishes. If the BBC is to focus on its core mission, then reform is urgently needed.
License fees were first introduced for wireless sets in the 1920s, but the model is now an anachronism in our age of satellite TV, cross-platform viewing and internet streaming.
The more technology advances, the more royalty becomes a relic. The best way to sustain the BBC would be to switch to a subscription model, where consumers who don’t use its services could refuse to pay. This would ensure the future of the Society and its legitimacy. Raging against Dorries in defense of an outdated authoritarian system is doomed.