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The BBC needs root and branch reform - and that includes scrapping the licence fee

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

The BBC lied and used fake documents in lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on Diana, Princess of Wales' fears and fuelled her paranoia. The BBC has been woefully incompetent; it has been evasive and it covered-up the utterly reprehensible behaviour of Martin Bashir. 

They are not my words (although I could have easily written them); they are the words of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in a powerful recorded statement broadcast yesterday. He delivered it with such dignity, but he must have been fuming inside. And who could blame him? 

We are told that the culture has changed in the last 26 years; that it is much more open and accountable, but I don't believe that for one moment. Try making a complaint to the BBC without feeling like banging your head against a brick wall. You are faced with layers of bureaucracy deliberately designed to ensure that even after numerous appeals, you will give up. Even if the BBC admits that it has got it wrong, there are very few consequences for those responsible. All the BBC is interested in is protecting its funding stream and appealing to those with whom it agrees: namely the woke Guardianistas of Hampstead and Islington. 

Lord Hall, who at the time was Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, feels that he has been exonerated. He shouldn't be. He either didn't conduct a thorough investigation into the way Bashir landed the interview, or he deliberately covered it up. Which was it? When you consider the way the BBC covered-up Jimmy Savile's disgusting criminal behaviour, I firmly believe that it was the latter unless it can be proved otherwise. 

(Click here to watch a webinar we held on 4th May 2021 looking at the future of the BBC. We asked if it should be defunded or reformed. The panellists were Nick Ross, Lord Moylan, and me. It was chaired by our chairman, David Campbell Bannerman)

Earl Spencer has called for a criminal investigation into Bashir. Quite right. If a tabloid newspaper had acted in this way, the likes of Keir Starmer would be jumping all over it. Indeed, As Director of Public Prosecutions in 2012, Keir Starmer decided that 33 tabloid journalists should face criminal charges for paying public officials for information. This resulted in dawn raids. Is the Metropolitan Police going to be knocking on Bashir's door? Are they going to feel Lord Hall's collar? Not anytime soon it appears. 

The BBC's reputation is once again being torn into little pieces. More and more of us are switching off, but does the BBC really care? Yes, the corporation requires root and branch reform. That should be obvious to even the most ardent defenders of the BBC. But one of the biggest reforms must be the way the BBC is funded. Why should we be forced to fund an organisation which doesn't share any of our values? Why should we be forced to fund an organisation whose news output is slanted to the woke left? If I want to news from a woke left perspective, I can read The Guardian. And I am not threatened with a criminal conviction if I don't hand over £159 a year to help prop-up that particular newspaper. 

As I have said for years that the BBC is clinging on to an analogue funding system in a digital world. It is also in a death spiral. Unless Tim Davie can turn the ship around, he could well be the last Director General of the BBC as we know it. In many ways the BBC's demise would be sad, but no-one can say that it didn't have it coming. 

 


WATCH our most recent webinar. What is the BBC for? Should it be defunded or reformed?

In a Freedom Association webinar held on Tuesday 4th May 2021, we discussed, “What's the BBC for? Should it be defunded or reformed?”

The panellists were:

Andrew Allison: Andrew is Head of Campaigns for The Freedom Association.

Nick Ross: Nick is a broadcaster, journalist, and campaigner. He became a household name in the UK launching breakfast TV, Watchdog and Crimewatch and flagship radio programmes including World at One, PM and The World Tonight.

Lord Moylan. Daniel was appointed a Conservative Peer in 2020. He was chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation, deputy chairman of Transport for London, and chief airport adviser to Boris Johnson as Mayor of London. A lifelong listener of BBC Radio 3, he has described the radio channel as being "infected by a sort of relentless wokeness".

The webinar was chaired by David Campbell Bannerman, Chairman of The Freedom Association and a former Conservative MEP from 2009-2019, representing the East of England.

Click here to become a member of The Freedom Association. Click here if you would like to make a donation to support our work. 


What is the BBC for? Should it be defunded or reformed?

Please join us for our next webinar on Tuesday 4th May at 6.00 pm. We have a great panel ready to discuss, “What is the BBC for? Should it be defunded or reformed?”

Confirmed panelists are:

Andrew Allison: Andrew is Head of Campaigns for The Freedom Association.

Nick Ross: Nick is a broadcaster, journalist, and campaigner. He became a household name in the UK launching breakfast TV, Watchdog and Crimewatch and flagship radio programmes including World at One, PM and The World Tonight.

Lord Moylan. Daniel was appointed a Conservative Peer in 2020. He was chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation, deputy chairman of Transport for London, and chief airport adviser to Boris Johnson as Mayor of London. A lifelong listener of BBC Radio 3, he has described the radio channel as being "infected by a sort of relentless wokeness".

The webinar will be chaired by David Campbell Bannerman, Chairman of The Freedom Association and a former Conservative MEP from 2009-2019, representing the East of England.

To register, click here


WATCH Andrew Allison in conversation with Mike Graham of talkRADIO

In another episode in our series of 'Free Spirits' podcasts, Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns, chatted to Mike Graham of talkRADIO about the life of Prince Philip, the opening of hospitality, cancel culture and the media.


The free press and the BBC. WATCH Andrew Allison and David Stephenson discuss the future of both

Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns for The Freedom Association chatted with David Stephenson, TV Editor of the Sunday Express. They explored what the future will look like for the print media in the UK and the BBC. Does the TV licence fee have a future? Will the BBC have to explore alternative funding models? Spoiler alert: the answers to the last two questions are no and yes respectively!

Click HERE to watch it 

Click here to become a member of The Freedom Association. Click here to make a donation to help us in our work. 


Is the BBC licence fee terrific value for money?

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By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

The new chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp, has described the licence fee as the "least worst" way of funding the BBC and has said that he opposes decriminalisation. He also thinks that the licence fee is "terrific value". That depends on how much BBC content one consumes. I seldom listen to BBC radio. The same can be said for BBC television. We mostly watch programmes on Netflix, which, for us, at £5.99 a month really does represent terrific value. 

When I was a child, the BBC's main rival was ITV. How things have changed. The BBC's main rivals now are Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix, for example, spends millions of pounds per episode on series' such as The Queen's Gambit - a drama about a young female chess player. The BBC cannot compete, and when it comes to 2027 (the year its Royal Charter is due for renewal) may eventually realise that the licence fee restricts its creative output. 

I have said it before and will say it again: the licence fee is an analogue funding solution in a digital world. When it comes to 2027, live television schedules as we know them may not exist. The BBC needs to get real to ensure its survival. 


What does Oliver Dowden's panel of broadcasting, journalism and technology leaders mean for the licence fee?

 

 

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns 

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has announced that a 10-strong panel of experts will look at the future of public service broadcasting. In an op-ed for the Telegraph, Mr. Dowden said that "the BBC is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. The world has changed, and every broadcaster needs to change with it. So I’m taking a close look at the future of our entire public service broadcasting system. That includes ITV and Channels 4 and 5 – and S4C in Wales and STV in Scotland, both of which are important to those nations." He also said that the "10-strong panel won’t just be tiptoeing around the edges. They have been tasked with asking really profound questions about the role these broadcasters have to play in the digital age – and indeed whether we need them at all. It is a crucial task, given how central public service broadcasters are to our entire creative ecosystem."

This review is long overdue. Most of the output from the BBC is not public service broadcasting. It's output is very similar to other broadcasters. The Beeb chases for ratings in the same way ITV and Sky do. The rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services means fewer hours of live television are being consumed as each year passes. Who knows what the broadcasting landscape will look like in 2027 when the BBC's Royal Charter is up for renewal. 

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Is the Culture Secretary ready to fight the BBC?

800px-Official_portrait_of_Oliver_Dowden_crop_2.jpgOliver Dowden (pictured left), the new Culture Secretary, gave a speech at the Enders Media and Telecoms Conference yesterday. He told the audience that "in the coming years we will of course be taking a proper look at our public service broadcasting system and the BBC’s central role within it." He also said that we need to consider three questions. Does the BBC truly reflect all of our nation and is it close to the British people? Does the BBC guard its unique selling point of impartiality in all of its output? Is the BBC ready to embrace proper reform to ensure its long term sustainability for the decades ahead?

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Decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee is good, but the Government must go further

In an article published in the Daily Mail yesterday, Culture Secretary, Nicky Morgan, wrote:

"Twenty years ago Blockbuster, the then heavyweight of video rentals, turned down a £38 million merger offer from Netflix. Today Netflix is worth £50 billion, 1,300 times its offer to Blockbuster – which has gone from 3,000 stores to a museum in Oregon, for people who want to remember what video cassettes look like. Netflix now competes with the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple for dominance of the multi-billion-dollar streaming market. The result is that people now spend three times as much time watching subscription services such as Netflix than they do BBC iPlayer. More children now recognise the names Netflix and YouTube than they do the BBC. I believe, no matter how well-funded these international streaming giants are, UK public service broadcasters are vital".

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The condescending Emily Maitlis just can't help herself

I gave up watching Newsnight on BBC Two years ago, pretty much at the same time as Jeremy Paxman hung up his boots. Rather like Channel 4 News, the presenters don't try to mask their metropolitan left-wing biases. Probably the most condescending (and humourless) of the lot of them is Emily Maitlis. 

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