Friday 15 January 2010


The BBC wastes vast amounts of the licence fee on “big-name” presenters, imported US television shows and sports rights at the expense of quality programming, according to an independent review by the Policy Exchange think tank.

The corporation spends a disproportionately high amount of its £3.5 billion a year licence fee income on chasing the 16-35 age group through digital channels such as BBC Three, it said. "Star" salaries also came in for criticism.

It proposed a radical overhaul of the corporation, including the abolition of the BBC Trust governing body and the establishment of an external regulator which would monitor the BBC's spending of the licence fee. Other proposals included the sell-off of BBC Worldwide. It suggested that the public service broadcasting system, which aims to provide programmes of value to society, is not working. Both ITV and Channel 4 have PSB obligations but the report said ITV should be allowed to opt out, spelling the end of its regional news bulletins.

The report's author, Mark Oliver, an ex-government adviser and former head of strategy at the BBC, said the corporation's desire to chase audiences across all age groups was illustrated by its sports coverage, outbidding rivals for the FA Cup and Formula One coverage because they appeal to working class and lower middle class men under 40, a group which the BBC finds difficult to attract.

Channel 4 and Sky have complained that the BBC drives up the price of sport and US imports. It paid £400,000 per episode for Heroes, broadcast on BBC Two, which in turn forced up the cost of shows such as Channel 4's Desperate Housewives.

The report also criticised the BBC for spending millions on the iPlayer catch-up service, Freesat and Project Canvas, a plan to deliver television via the internet.

Amongst its recommendations, the Policy Exchange called for the BBC Trust to be scrapped. It said the Trust had not been able to hold the corporation to account in the face of scandals such as 'Sachsgate', the scandal involving Ross and the comedian Russell Brand, the report said. The calls come after Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary, suggested last September that the Trust be abolished and said the corporation had probably reached the limits of "reasonable expansion".

Responding to the proposals, a BBC Trust spokeswoman said that the Trust had been focused on protecting the public value and independence of the BBC against inappropriate political or commercial influence. Anyone proposing change to the current governance arrangements must demonstrate that they won't put either that value or that independence at risk.

It’s high time that the BBC was slimmed down and returned to its core business of supplying a proper public broadcasting service. The overblown size and totally disproportionate salaries and fees paid to executives and “stars” are not only insulting to the licence fee payers, but also seem to be increasing costs for other media.

Can an incoming government please act quickly to restore some sanity to this tax black hole?



  1. The BBC is just a mouthpiece for the New labour project. A full supporter of the EU, multiculturalism, man made global warming scam and mass immigration.
    It needs to be scrapped or only allowed to continue if it becomes self funding. Hundreds of fake jobs with £200,000 salaries ( £850,000 for the controller). And that doesn't include their expenses. Check them out when you are bored - they're available at the BBC website. £1,000 a night hotel rooms, £3,000 return trips to New York etc.
    And the worst thing of course is if you don't pay your tv tax then you will go to prison because 'we're all on the database'.
    They do the odd good drama and I would gladly pay for that ( although new 'Survivors' series is dire) but if I want Labour news then I'll read The Scotsman, Herald, Record et al.

  2. I've just bought a tv and, as I'm a coward, a licence. But after about 11 at night, the picture is unwatchable on all the BBC channels. The ITV ones and all the real nonsense, like Bid-up TV, are fine, but the ones I've paid a hundred and forty quid for are unwatchable. No refund I guess? I understand that the BBC is responsible for the digital switch over. Needless to say despite the fat salaries the fat cat controllers don't seem to be able to run the proverbial.... in a brewery.

  3. I don't find the BBC trying to be populist and playing the ratings game with ITV, Sky and Channel 4 as disturbing as its political bias and I don't think slimming down is going to change that.

    In Scotland the role call of Campbell, Wark, Magnusson, the Newsdrive team on Radio Scotland, Shereen Nanjiani and all the rest is a role call of Labour supporters who make no secret of it on the air.

    I used to be quite protective about the BBC as a source of unbiased news but as the internet has allowed me to access other news sources, both commercial and personal, I've become wary of the validity of BBC news in all areas not just the political.

    If the BBC news was shut down tomorrow I wouldn't miss it but the Labour party would lose its broadcast wing. My opinion about the BBC has shifted radically over the last decade from a protective stance to one of indifference verging on hostility.

  4. Doug:

    I don’t think that a state run broadcaster should be the size that the BBC is, or cover the vast amount of ground that it does, and that could be covered by commercial stations.

    I realise that it’s between a rock and a hard place. Most households in the country have to fork out a tax for this service; many might say that unless there’s something on it that they want to watch, like Eastenders or Strictly on Ice with Graham Norton or whatever, that they simply won’t pay it; on the other hand, its real purpose should be to provide programming that would not readily be provided by a commercial station, because no one would want to advertise during it but that still ahs a place for some...

    It’s really past its sell-by date. If they slimmed it down to one tv and one radio station, or something manageable, and then charged us all about £5 a year, that would suit me.

    As a news medium, I agree. It has become a wing of the Labour Party, and especially in Scotland, the news is simply not worth listening to because of the anti SNP bias. The Old Wark woman is the worst but more of the rest of them are grim too. They seem incapable of saying Alex Salmond’s name without a curl of detestation on the lips.

  5. You are all Murdocks puppets, you are all getting worried about the competition, from the succesful BBC, l am happy paying a few pounds a month for quality television from the BBC and ITV which is far far better than paying £50 odd pounds for Sky crap. where would Sky be if it wasn't for BBC and ITV programms. If it wasn't for Sky we would have Sport for all, not just for the few that can afford it.

  6. Anon: I don't think anyone would call me a Murdoch puppet.

    First of all, you don't pay a few pounds a month; it's £12 a month, and it only pays for BBC, not ITV. The rest you get free, for having to put up with advertising.

    I wouldn't mind paying a pound a month for the BBC (but it's fair to say I watch very very little tv), but I'm now helping to pay the guy who runs it £800,000 a year as a salary and expenses that make your eyes water. Our own First Minister gets a fraction of that and he runs the country.

    Layers and layers of beaurocracy, just like the Civil Service, but at inflated salary rates, and with expenses that the Civil Service would die for.

    We can do better than this.