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John Birt: so much to answer for

"The BBC had a rowing competition with the Japanese and lost. So John Birt set up a working party to try and find out why. They found that while the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering, the BBC had one rowing and eight steering. The working party decided to employ consultants to devise a solution. They decided that what the BBC really needed was three steering managers, three deputy steering managers and a director of steering services. The rower, meanwhile, should be made to row harder. When they faced the Japanese and lost again, the director of steering services decided to sack the rower, sell the boat and give himself a pay rise."

Anyone that disagrees with this and believes consultants do a valuable job then please let us know, but you must supply an example...


Male identity crises?

Burberry cap, stone island lapels and Rockport boots.
£12 the set. Mindless aggression automatic upon wearing them


The Great British Broadcasting swindle

Value-added offerings. Digital technology. News bulletins every 15 minutes. Eighteen channels to choose from. Get to fuck

This year the BBC has tested the patience of a saint. Clearly convinced of its own immunity from privatisation, this ‘holy cow’ of self-aggrandising pomposity has disrobed, de-gloved and is now set to take on all-comers in a fight to the death for global media hegemony. You might say that the BBC has redefined the holy trinity of domestic broadcast ownership, with Murdoch, Davies and Dyke contesting the long-term viability of the BBC-ITV-Channel 4 model. Make no mistake, it’s the economists who are pulling the strings in British broadcasting now.

It was only a matter of time. For years successive UK governments have merely tinkered with the BBC’s charter, retaining old-fashioned and paternalistic restrictions on private and commercial media. Although the Reithian-Puritan ideology that the ‘culture’ of the nation is conditioned by the quality of its media has now given way to the frenzied rush of broadcasters to satisfy ‘consumer choice’, the structures of power and privilege in ‘public service broadcasting’ remain largely unchallenged. Today, the BBC board consists of the same bunch of government cronies, spivs and grease-monkeys, resulting in the reproduction of the most stinking pile of moribund middle-class programming imaginable, presided over by a contemptible bunch of gormless overpaid public-school mediocrities, most of whom are the junkies and piss-heads of famous parents.

It’s enough to make people nostalgic for a bit of paternalism. At least back in the old days it was openly accepted that the BBC, while competing against ITV for viewers, did not compete for the same source of revenue. After all, ITV had its advertisers while the BBC had its licence-fee payers. No need for either to tread on the other’s toes, since as far as revenue was concerned they simply weren’t competing in the same market.

Who believes that the current shake-up of network TV still follows the same rules? Or today justifies the same funding arrangements as 40 years ago? While the BBC continues to promote the pious image of itself as the nation’s ‘auntie Beeb’, whose ‘quality’ is branded on just about every domestic cultural ‘event’ it can lay its hands on with all the subtlety of a sexually frustrated muppet, its relentless march into niche programming and global franchising unambiguously defines the corporation as the de facto leading commercial sector operator. Unlike its domestic competitors, the BBC’s core income is guaranteed by the annual licence fee, which means that, unlike the rest of the commercial sector (ie, the real one), there is effectively no negative production spend on the programmes it makes. Unlike ITV, which has to sell their products to advertisers, and therefore recoup their investments on the open market, no such commercial pressures exist for the BBC.

While in theory — and in terms of the BBC’s remit as a ‘quality’ broadcaster — this is supposed to encourage imaginative and cutting-edge television, in actual fact existing funding arrangements have merely encouraged the churning out of lowest common denominator mass entertainment bilge. ‘Mass entertainment’ is a misleading term here, because despite the government’s repeated flogging of a dead horse, it must be abundantly clear by now to any of those in government with a half a brain (not that it’s ever stopped them in the past) that the masses have no intention of buying into the digital TV ‘revolution’.

People don’t want that pile of unadulterated shit, not at any price — that’s why ITV Digital went bust! Undaunted, however, the BBC have picked up on the idea that, in addition to paying 112 per year for the privilege of getting monged out in front of ‘Casualty’ on a Saturday evening, people are freely going to fork out an additional oner to watch… what? Repeats of ‘Worzel Gummidge’? Another series of ‘Changing Rooms’? Or ‘Airport’? Don’t make us fucking well laugh!

Desperate to be seen as a vital and worthy recipient of oodles of public cash, today the BBC inadvertently provides a more convincing argument for its abolition as a public service broadcaster than its own commercial rivals. This is made obvious every time one of its celebrity radio or TV presenters pops up in an attempt to ‘big up’ the corporation’s universality, and merely reinforces its remoteness from youth culture. Or when a new series is repeatedly heralded in one of those quasi-commercial slots (which the corporation hasn’t paid for) before the news. Or when the highlight of its domestic sports roster, despite its multi-million pound budget, amounts to the ‘fights’ of Audrey Harrison. But by far the greatest contempt for its audience is surely displayed by the BBC when in ‘charity mode’.

Here the corporation surpasses itself in trying to convince us that the interests of the poor and the needy are best served by financial donations from ordinary licence-fee payers, rather than from the disgustingly overpaid and overindulged parade of star celebrities, whose combined annual income could write off the national debt of several African countries.

What sort of smug contempt for its audience can a public service broadcaster have when its only concession to the general interest is a provocative glamour outing for washed-up has-beens like that worthless cuntface Michael Parkinson, who sniff around for any scrap that could extend their pitiful excuse for a ‘career’ by a couple of extra seasons, under the unbelievable pretext of ‘doing it all for charity’? If you’re so fucking distraught about poverty in Africa, Parkinson, why don’t you just cough up your salary to the Red Cross? It’d save us all the ignoble spectacle of having to watch you blub away on air, you fucking hypocritical northern cunt of fucking arsepaper!

The time has come to take a stand:


The BBC board consists of the same bunch of government cronies, spivs and grease-monkeys, resulting in the reproduction of the most stinking pile of moribund middle-class programming imaginable, presided over by a contemptible bunch of gormless overpaid public-school mediocrities, most of whom are the junkies and piss-heads of famous parents.


Allow me to direct you to the big debate on this over at k-punk...

[ bruce 26/05/2004 08:55:51]

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