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At work today, a lot of people were talking about the BBC, but since I'm not up on pop pseudo-news, I'm not entirely sure what prompted it...

But the main topic of the conversation seemed to be the license fee, and them questioning the legitimacy of charging it. Now, like the good little lefty I am, I see the license fee as just another tax, and therefore have no problems with paying it. I'm in my fourth year of paying for a TV license, and the money for it comes off my perception of my income before I think about how much money I have to spend. In terms of what I think of as my income, it's my salary after income tax, NI, council tax and my TV license. It's TV Tax, and I quite like taxes, so it's all fine..

But my favourite part of the license fee is that it costs me less than watching adverts. There are prices that are measured in other units than currency, and the other TV channels are a fantastic proof of that. As I understand it, the BBC has an obligation to meet certain ratings targets, for news if not for other programming, in order to justify the fee. However, beyond that, ratings do not directly affect the revenue that the BBC attracts.

Not so in the case of other channels. As I understand it, the profitability of a particular TV show is directly based on the viewing figures, because these determine the advertising revenue from any breaks in the program, as well as advertisements before and after it. Which brings me back to pop pseudo-news.

When people at work talk about the news, it seems to largely focus on topics like bird flu, Diana, and.. well.. trivia, basically. I'm not saying that these issues aren't important in their own right, but perspective is skewed in the reporting of them, in order to make the news more attractive to viewers, in order to increase advertising revenue. I know it's possibly a little cynical, but I can't help but feel that the news on commercial TV stations is being geared towards the same demographic as tabloid newspapers. Look no further than Tonight with Trevor McDonald for proof of that..

The great thing about the BBC is that if they make programs with no wide appeal, they don't lose any potential income for showing them at peak times. That means they can tackle political issues in a more in-depth fashion, without having to worry about making them look cool and interesting. Tonight I watched Question Time, followed by This Week - neither of these shows tries to hype itself up, or attract viewers by pandering to the lowest common denominator. Nice, thought-out political discussion, with no specific agenda and with a cross-section of opinion.

I dunno.. I just prefer watching TV that doesn't make money by making itself more attractive to viewers. The license fee is a small price to pay in order to be confident that the BBC hasn't sold out...

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How very true.

While I believe that they were rightly slated in the Hutton Report and that Dyke should have stayed instead of running away from his responsibilities, largely the BBC's output on all fronts is excellent and well meaning. I would certainly trust them for news above any other source.

And the licence-fee - instead of an allocation over the budget - means that not only is BBC (or NRK in Norway, or STV in Sweden, etc.) independent of the demands of the general market, but may also remain independent of government interference.

A few years ago NRK2 showed a rerun of some selected programmes of a series of debate-programmes from the late 80s - the title can best be translated as "Literally", and it featured the programme-host, and three authors (new for each programme, of course) with books new on the market. Based on the themes of their books, they would discuss similar themes in society in general. No shouting or yelling, just quiet and well-mannered conversation. 15 years later, the programmes were just as interesting. I think sometimes the tabloid TV-networks have misunderstood its viewers - people don't run away from intelligent TV-programmes.

i'm a big fan of the bbc, too, actually.
naturally, we only get the watered-down cable tv bbc america here, which plays monty python, the news, and a gazillion hours of ground force. i wish we had the real thing. =/

on the other hand, while i think the whole concept is a great idea, i think adding some non-government normal channels into the mix is better for entertainment value and things like the discovery channel.

what brought this up? are they talking about privitizing it?

and a gazillion hours of ground force

o.O I feel for you!

I reckon it wouldn't be a terrible loss if the BBC ended up only doing news stuff (not just 'the news', but Question Time etc too). We definitely need some government-independant and non-shit (read: "ITV") news, but they don't do that much good stuff. Well, I suppose they do some good comedy. And good children's shows. And good documentaries. And they get cool shows like 24.

Yeah, OK, forget I said anything.

I was wondering if you know anything about this Josh Radin guy. Haha... I realize it sounds stupid, I but I was just watching TV, heard this great song... typed the lyrics into a search engine, came up with his name... and upon typing THAT into a search engine... wound up here.

Anyway, Winter is a fantastic song... I just can't find it anywhere.

Have a good day...

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