The Inquirer-Home

Why the BBC is rubbish

Voice of Unreason How are the mighty fallen
Thu Apr 26 2007, 11:31

At the beginning of the last century, its newsreaders spoke proper English and wore dinner jackets even though they were only on radio, or the wireless, as it was then known. It was a trusted and respected organisation, much as the London Times used to be before it was taken over by an antipodean charlatan.

Today, the news is read by excitable young folk with impenetrable regional accents who find it impossible to sit down while spouting forth in some hateful modern argot about some soap star's new hairstyle.

The BBC's charter states that it should be 'free from both political and commercial influence'. A laudable aim and one that the BBC completely ignores. The Beeb operates seven national radio stations and five TV channels and is supposed to be funded by a licence fee, payable by everyone in the UK who owns a television. If ads were to be broadcast, the licence fee could be abolished and the organisation would have more disposable income, enabling it to compete for the rights to major sporting events alongside cable and satellite broadcasters. There was a time when all major sports were broadcast by the BBC, which is now reduced to showing pro-celebrity canasta and ballroom dancing.

The BBC claims that it cannot go against its charter and get revenue from advertising. Ignoring the fact that outside the UK, the BBC operates as a commercial TV service like any other, the company already runs ads. Dozens of them. At the end of every programme on all its radio and TV stations, Auntie runs ads for other programmes coming up later. These are just as intrusive and irritating as commercials for soap powder and generate absolutely no revenue.

Recently, this has become even worse - news broadcasts, including those on the 24 hour rolling news station BBC News 24, regularly include 'news' items which are little more than trailers for upcoming documentaries. "… and if you want to find out more on this story, you can see it on Panorama, on BBC1 at nine o'clock this Monday." The BBC responds to criticisms of this pseudo-journalism by claiming that documentaries are sometimes newsworthy. While this is undoubtedly the case, it is a tad suspicious that it's only BBC documentaries that are deemed newsworthy, rather one ones broadcast on commercial channels.

And while on the subject of pseudo journalism, when did journalists stop interviewing the people directly involved in the news? In a story on the Prime Minister, the BBC news anchor will interview the BBC Political Editor, rather than the man himself. A science correspondent will be wheeled in to explain some new technical wonderment, rather than the boffins who developed it and an economics reporter will be interviewed on some shady business deal instead of the man who's just fled the country taking the pension fund with him. Journalists interviewing journalists may be OK for the UK Press Gazette, but for a national broadcaster to do it is just rubbish.

The 'commercial influence' aspect of the BBC's charter extends beyond straightforward advertising. For years, the BBC's technology coverage has been beneath contempt. Not only do correspondents genuinely believe that 'the CPU is the brain of the computer' and that 'the sun goes behind the Earth' during a lunar eclipse, but their coverage could hardly be called objective.

It is all to easy to see the BBC technology desk wetting themselves every time an Apple press release arrives. If it contains the word 'iPod', you can imagine them fainting with excitement. Worse still, the regular scare stories on viruses, junk mail and Nigerian spammers - invariably knocking Microsoft - are invariably generated off the back of press releases from Symantec, MessageLabs, Kaspersky and McAfee, companies which, to a man, make money from selling their products to people worried about just these things. Hardly impartial reporting, is it?

In technical terms, the BBC used to be a world leader, but even that's gone down the toilet. The BBC's attitude to digital audio broadcasting is laughable - the DAB transmission of the high quality Radio 3 is broadcast at a lower resolution than the same channel on digital terrestrial TV. In most places in the UK, people will get better sound quality from the ancient FM network than DAB. Progress, eh?

So that's quite a few things wrong with the BBC and I haven't even mentioned the programmes yet… µ


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