I’ve evicted Jeremy Paxman

Free from the BBC licence fee, I no longer fund the Left. I wouldn’t give a hundred pounds a year to the Labour Party, so why hand over hard cash to the broadcasting wing of the Labour Movement?

How long can the BBC's model last?
Andrew Gibson
On 13 February 2014 00:20

I have evicted Jeremy Paxman. I have cut short Jim Naughtie mid sentence, and disinherited David Dimbleby. I have joined the BBC licence fee refuseniks.

Well, not a “refusenik” actually – I no longer watch “live” TV so I don’t require a licence. Our numbers are growing.

Pleasingly, free from the licence fee, I no longer fund the Left. I wouldn’t give a hundred pounds a year to the Labour Party, so why hand over hard cash to the broadcasting wing of the Labour Movement?

Yes, yes, I know the BBC is meant to be non-partisan, and some on the left even joke that the Corporation is right wing. But here on planet Earth the BBC is riddled with left wing assumptions that are taken as the “norm”.

To borrow from Ann Coulter, asking the BBC about left-wing bias is a bit like saying to a goldfish, “How’s the water?” Answer: “What water? There’s no water.”

The BBC swims in Leftism.

Even a former director of the BBC has recently admitted that the organisation is too big and too left wing. And Michael Grade has put forward good ideas for reform, including downsizing and contracting out production.

As well as saving £145.50 pa my quality of life has increased immeasurably. Free from TV, you tend to read more books. And you can watch “catch up” TV on the iPlayer, so you see Benefits Street a day or so later anyway.

You can also watch films on a subscription service, but I don’t bother. There is so much high quality TV on the Internet you don’t need to pay more.

Treat yourself. Tune in to, say, “Uncommon Knowledge” with Peter Robinson, produced by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Robinson is informed and courteous and does not treat right-wing guests as morally suspect. Robinson’s discussions with the likes of Antonin Scalia are genuinely illuminating: Once viewed, you will never bother with the Andrew Marr show again.

The BBC license fee is surely doomed. Viewers won’t tolerate a 1930s business model in a 21st century media environment. There are too many options available; private sector innovation is circumventing the sinking state behemoth. Like the car maker British Leyland, the Soviet Union, or rickets, the license will seem a permanent feature one minute only to be gone the next.

Even mainstream broadcasters like Nick Ross are saying the licence needs to be replaced by a subscription service or similar.    Money is wasted chasing up licence non-payers and jailing those who defy the courts. The BBC is responsible for more than one in ten of all criminal prosecutions.

Not unusually for the Left, there is also a power trip involved: Over the past five years the BBC has had to make almost 2,500 'goodwill payments' to householders who were wrongly threatened with prosecution and pestered for licence fee money that was not due.  

BBC defenders say that the fee only costs “40p a day”. In fact, families are more likely to pay three or four hundred pounds and more a year for their TV services, because as well as paying the compulsory license fee they also want satellite TV from a half decent provider.

Think about that: the BBC is so awful that even though the marginal cost of watching is zero, millions of viewers opt to pay still more and watch content sourced elsewhere.

BBC current affairs is one of the few remaining redoubts of deference. The great aristocratic families of the British Left – the Milibands and Harmans and Hunts – are treated as if they have something useful to say, even though their inherited opinions were discredited last century.

Meanwhile, creators from the private sector (“trade”!) are invariably treated as being shifty and in some way having to answer for themselves. (This cynicism from an organisation that gave house room to Savile and that even rigged the vote to name the Blue Peter cat.)

The deference is reinforced by the baby talk. Call it “Auntie”. Call it the “Beeb”. Be children and hand over your pocket money and accept what you are given.

I say: Cancel your licence fee, defund the Left, and spend the savings on decent books. “Nation Shall Speak Peace unto Nation”; but better nowadays to do so by email or social media.

Andrew Gibson is an occasional contributor to The Commentator

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