Archive for the ‘British Broadcasting Corporation’ Category

The Being Human Pilot and Idiotic BBC policies

I think I mentioned before that the BBC has never officially rereleased the Being Human pilot, despite the show’s gaining enough of a cult status enough to have a US remake and lasting five seasons.  This gets into their rerun policies which can also be fickle.  And as someone who seriously pondered applying for the BBC DG position, I know there is a fuck of a lot of politics at the place, but somehow there must be a way to cut through it.

Especially given their tendency for whining about how broke they are whilst sitting on a treasure trove of material.  well, what they didn’t trash prior to the 1970s and didn’t get saved by someone else.

In this case, they never put the series pilot on the DVDs, which is a shame.  Not that I’ve seen the pilot.

Yet.

As with most BBC material, you can find a copy of it if you dig around.  In this case, there are a few copies floating about online and I hope to watch a high definition one tonight.  Of course, the Beeb could have done this.  for all I know, there might be some political reason for it not doing so.

After all, the person who DID get the DG’s position lasted about 4 months grace a le Jimmy Saville Scandal.  I understand that the job is a shark pool of politics.  On the other hand, I’ve had years of dealing with the Greater North American Gun Loon.

More on BBC repeats

I was a little rushed after WordPress trashed my last post on this topic: As if we didn’t know this already….  I should have made it clear that I am a little less bothered by this policy;  especially, if the the scheduling deities repeat things which are worth repeating.  I would love to see the Last Duel again (hint! hint!).

Seriously, there are some serious treasures in the BBC archives which could do with being rerun besides Dad’s Army and the Good Life.  And they can always dredge up things like Bergerac if they want to waste broadcasting.  I could also go off and the stuff which was lost due to the idiotic policy of wiping the tapes, but have done that more than enough.

As if we didn’t know this already…

Or the licence fee dodgers are correct when they complain about repeats on the Beeb.

According to the Radio Times, a Freedom of Information request has revealed that almost two thirds of BBC programmes aired last year were repeats. an average of 63% of programmes broadcast across the BBC channels (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4) during 2012 had already been aired. BBC3 was arguably the worst offender with 3,196 (85%) of its programmes coming from repeats. BBC1 transmitted 2,793 repeat programmes in the period, around a third of its output. 4,423 BBC2 shows were repeats. BBC4 had already shown 2,604 hours, or 78% of its output.

The BBC’s statement regarding reruns said: “Repeats on the BBC are carefully scheduled to reach different audiences. On BBC2, many of its repeats are of classic shows. For example, we have recently shown Dad’s Army and The Good Life, chosen to offer viewers an alternative to what the other channels are showing.”

I noticed they recently reran I, Claudius, which gets to my gripe that there are a lot of classic programmes in their archives which they don’t use: e.g., Take Three Girls and The Borderers. I should add that I’ve also been watching classics such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Shadow of the Tower which are both contemporary to the Borderers, yet they are complete and available on DVD.  Not sure how some series can exist fairly completely, yet others do not.  I know that sometimes this is due to the tapes being broadcast in other countries.

Anyway, it seems that some good new material is in the pipeline with Professor Mary Beard presenting a documentary on Caligula.   I’ve got to admit that I find Prof. Beard kind of hot in a sapiosexual way which means that this sounds seriously promising.  I need to rewatch the Pompeii documentary, but I remember another of her documentaries on the Romans which she truly demonstrated a love of the topic.  Although she joked to the audience at the Telegraph Hay Festival that “no one, but no one can tweet this, otherwise I will get into such trouble”.

Really now…

Anyway, it’s far too late for regrets now–I’m prepped for some serious intellectual porn!

See also: Hay Festival 2013: Mary Beard making Caligula documentary

BBC America (Canada) at iTunes Store

It has come to my attention that BBC America material is available on demand from the Apple iTunes Store.  I am assuming the same is true for Canada as well.

It’s nice to see a lot of this available on demand, such as Mongrels and Horrible Histories.

Not sure if any ITV or Channel 4 material is available (Time Team).

Savile Row

I was warned that the BBC Director General’s job was hellacious, but I didn’t expect the revelation about Jimmy Savile’s paedophilia would come up. And neither did George Entwistle, the person who did get the job. Entwhistle was grilled in front of the House of Common’s culture committee about this topic. I have to admit that this is a serious bombshell to have to deal with.

The real question to me is how much of this was known and when?  After all, it has been alleged that Savile paedophilia went on for 30-40 years without anyone saying anything about it.  Although, there are stories about reports being made to the BBC hierarchy, but ignored.

The other thing which bothers me is Esther Rantzen did nothing about it.  She admits to having heard rumours about Savile’s alleged paedophila.  Rantzen told told ITV1’s This Morning: “As Ian Hislop said so brilliantly last week, knowledge means that you hear from the person it happened to or a witness and that’s what the ITV documentary showed me…Up until then, I’ve heard rumours about the royal family, politicians, about TV presenters and my view about rumours is the vast majority of the rumours are untrue.”

Rantzen also said she had “no memory” of being contacted by campaigner Shy Keenan who said she told her about Savile  saying: “Now the lady who says that she told me 18 years ago – I’ve gone back through the records of that year to see if we ever did an item about child abuse in that series of That’s Life…she says she met me then…I have no memory of her at all…And we did one item about child abuse in that series and it was about criminal compensation… the other members of That’s Life staff have no memory of her.”

Furthermore, Rantzen said no one complained to her Childline charity about Savile.

But the real bothersome thing about all this is that Savile died a year ago.  There are a couple of legal issues I have with that: first off, justice was delayed in this matter.  Secondly, there is no confrontation of the accused by the accuser.  can justice really occur in such a situation?

I feel for the victims of paedophila, but I have several problems with having a posthumous investigation of events which happened so long ago.  Other than airing their complaints, what else will this help if the perpetrator is dead?

Yes, there is the culture which allowed for Savile to get away with this sort of thing for as long as he did.  One person opined that the children were silenced by his wealth and celebrity. Despite that, every one of them had the power to bring him down if only they’d known it. The trouble was that none realised it, or none thought they’d be listened to. At least one had her complaint dismissed by the headmistress at the School where Savile found many of his victims.

But if a child can make their voice heard and they are telling the truth, their accusation will not stand alone for long. When accusations emerge against people who are serial offenders, such as Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky, they turn into an avalanche.

The lesson is that adults must listen with respect. They must finally understand that no-one is above suspicion; that no-one should avoid scrutiny because of who they are.  There are too many cases where there are accusations and suspicions which are not properly investigated due to people’s position and the institution they work for.

On the other hand, I worry that the fall out will effect people and institutions who weren’t involved due to the lateness of any action being taken in this case.  Perhaps the real lesson of Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky is that there should be a proper investigation of these matters since ignoring them hurts not only the victims, but the institution.

Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journey DVDs reduced in price!

Series 1 is now £12.39 and Series 2 is £16.67 at Amazon from being in the mid 20 quid range !

Naturally, any hesitation at buying series 2  disappeared with the reduction in price and I ponied up for a copy.

I should add that the BBC now provides for commercial availability of programmes from online suppliers.  Eventually, they will offer links to services which officially stream the material.

I have to add this vid for BBC America because it’s just silly.

YES! LiveStation!

BBC Televised World News is available through LiveStation’s Premium Service!

I’m in heaven!

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!

In my desire to pay more than my fair share for BBC service, I came up with this story.

It seems that while the US House of Representatives is defunding US Public Radio, the United States is currently giving a grant of $4.5 million to the BBC World Service Trust!

In fact,  The Guardian reported that the U.S. government was considering an increase in BBC funding, the State Department denied that claim in a letter to the editor.

Go figure!

Well, actually, I can come up with an explanation for this.  The BBC has a much better reputation for accuracy and objectivity than does Voice of America.  On the other hand, depriving US citizens of an objective source of media (sort of since US citizens can access the World Service, sort of) is non-nonsensical.  Of course, control of information is one of the more infamous propaganda techniques.

WETA-UK is coming–the Anti-BBC (America)

Of course, from WETA-TV’s (Washington, DC) prmotional reel, this sounds as if it will be a Washington Metro item, not national in the US (as f now).  The programming sounds as if it is similar to what BBC America offers, without the commercials.  It is also a digital Television channel, which means it is a separate feed on the broadcasting spectrum.

WETA’s FAQs on the channel answer the question Isn’t WETA UK just another BBC America?

Absolutely not. WETA UK is a unique independent channel programmed specifically by WETA for its members and viewers. The channel features the kind of entertaining and intelligent programming that historically has been popular with WETA audiences. While WETA UK features programming from British networks; it is not affiliated with a British television entity.

Of course, that gets a vote from me, although, it will be publicly funded (as is the REAL BBC). In some ways, this sounds to me as if it is far more worthy of the title BBC America than the Discovery Channel Subsidiary of the same title.  That is it will be non-commercial and may be a bit more cutting edge than BBC America.

Although, this sounds as if it may result in turf wars between the US rights holders for BBC material.  Not to mention that BBC America is national, whereas this will be a WDC institution.

Of course,  this may not have the Euro imports one sees on the actual BBC (see my previous post on Nordic Noir). I though there was supposed to be competition in the marketplace for this material and who provides it.  Again, some of the things shown on the real BBC don’t make it officially to the US market (he Killing AKA Forbrydelsen).

Part of me likes the idea, but this sounds as if it is yet another attempt to provide the type of service the BBC does.  I prefer that this is non-commercial, although it will be interesting to see how this will be funded.

Best of luck WETA.

Nordic Noir

My wife was asking me about when the latest series of the Killing (aka Forbrydelsen, meaning The Crime) was going to appear on BBC Four.  Alas, that is yet to come, but the Radio Times has announced that more Nordic Noir will be hitting the airwaves soon.  The only one of these new series with a definite start date is the Bridge, which is coming to BBC4 on 21 April at 21:00.

On the other hand, the Radio Times mentions a few other series which have made it to the airwaves on both sides of the pond, Lilyhammer, which was put out by Netflix in the US and NRK in Norway, will show up sometime in the future on BBC4.  The plot line is somewhat hackneyed–Criminal gets put in witness protection, but in this case, he finds himself in a totally different culture.  Steven Van Zandt is basically rediong his role as Silvio Dante from the Sopranos.  The series is OK, but a bit of a stretch.  Jonseing Sopranos fans tend to like it though.

The Danish version of the Killing has not officially made it to the US, which is why I mention DRM here.  Also, its relevant since Lillyhammer was “broadcast” by Netflix over its internet streaming service.  Likewise, the US version of the Killing showed up on the US Cable channel AMC.  It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4.  Although, I gave the US version a pass. Fans of the Danish series felt let down since the US series tried to make it a cliffhanger and not announce whodunit.

Of course, all the networks would prefer that you watch the version officially sanctioned for your locale.  That means people in the US should not have seen the Danish version of the Killing, or they caught it through the grey areas of distribution: buying another region’s DVDs or downloading from the BBC.  Although, the Killing is readily available in the bit-torrent underground, as I found whilst researching this piece.

Of course, buying another region’s DVDs is the best way for the studios to make their money, short of the BBC coming up with a scheme for non-UK residents to get a licence which doesn’t hit the UK licence holders.  Although, there is still the download underground, whether directly from the BBC or via bit-torrent.

It doesn’t take too long for a show to appear as a bit-torrent after it has been broadcast in the UK.  In fact, one episode of  BBC 2’s White Heat didn’t appear immediately after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.  I almost googled (or used a bit-torrent search engine) it to see if it was on bit torrent.  Although, I can come up with more reasons not to want to go the bit torrent route than to do it.

Amusingly enough, BBC world service radio is rebroadcast through Sirius/XM and Vermont Public Radio in the States, which makes me wonder why they aren’t blocking it to US IP addresses.  World Service TV is not available in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan.  I know it is rebroadcast via cable in the US on Xfinity (at least WDC). Although, I am not sure the situation in other US media markets.

Personally, I prefer to remain within the law rather than skirt it.  Although, I would feel much better if I could make a contribution to the BBC for all their material that I use.  But, I have no television reception meaning I can’t access the material short of satellite or cable–which I am not paying for! Radio reception in my area is poor, and I access that material through the internet while broadcast.  No “live” viewing–no licence necessary!

Somehow, I find DRM blocking the end user from accessing the material as being counterproductive.  The entire idea is to make sure that the rights holder makes money, but if it isn’t reaching as large an audience as possible–are they really making as much money as they could? And while the free market system talks about personal choice, the ultimate person who should be able to choose is the consumer–not the producer.

Is the BBC D-G slot for me?

Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel here for a job switch.

The Radio Times published this sickener about the post. Former D-Gs talking about what a living nightmare the post is.

Everybody seems to hate you:

OK, so you can’t sleep, you can’t go on holiday and everyone outside the BBC is plotting against you. But surely the Beeb’s loyal workers will back you to the hilt? After another hard week of managing crises and sobbing at dawn, there you’ll be with your fellow public servants, putting the world to rights over a nice bottle of red down at Albertine’s on Wood Lane… right?

Wrong. Everyone at work will hate you as well. “You will certainly find some people, even on your own board, who didn’t want you in the first place,” Dyke predicts. “They will spend several years trying to undermine you… a would-be director-general needs to recognise that very few DGs ever left of their own accord.”

Well,I plan on mentioning this blog in my C-V and the fact that I have taken on the US gunloon community. Not ot mention that my career path has been a bunch of low paid jobs that I have hated doing.

The Beeb should be a piece of cake.

No Joke

Somehow. my stats have jumped up from the UK–and a certain IP address block at that.

I’m dead serious–I’ll apply for the job of D-G if I stand a chance.

Job Opening for me out there?

No sooner do I post my pieces on the BBC then this job opens up: British Broadcasting Corporation  Director-General.

Now, I would be happy to give them my CV if I knew I stood a ghost of a chance.

I wonder how many of my Old School Chums are higher ups at the Beeb?

Break out old School ties!

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part IV)

At this point, I’m going to try to tie together the thoughts I’ve mentioned in the previous three posts to try and come up with a coherent whole.

1) The BBC is a public broadcasting service

The major problem with this one is who exactly is the public and who exactly funds it. The BBC has a split personality between the internal services and the World Service. Not to mention that Britons can be found throughout the world (ex-Pats)

2) How does one fund such a being?

Is it truly fair for the British people to be the only ones expected to pay for this service? Why can’t external users contribute as well? Do you need need to use TV Detector Vans?

3) Can the BBC management deal with reality?
I know one of the higher ups has also suggested charging for iPlayer use, but I can’t find the citation in my posts. On the other hand, it is mentioned quite a bit as a possibility

There are major  problems with requiring people to either have licences and use iPlayer–the main one being that most people have already paid the licence fee.  There is a small subset of people are able to get away without having a licence yet still sble to use the iPlayer service.

I could reinvent the wheel, but this is a very good post by Paul Sawers  on why people should pay the licence fee:
thenextweb.com/uk/2012/01/21/theres-no-i-in-iplayer-heres-why-the-tv-licence-fee-must-be-preserved-in-the-uk/

In fact, that is pretty much my position on why the fee should be paid.  I use the service and I want to contribute.

Paul did neglect that the licence fee is also supposed to be fair.  There are methods by which one can be exempted from paying the fee.  Not to mention, there are reduced fees and exemptions (e.g., a 50% reduction on the TV Licence fee if you’re blind/severely sight impaired and Second homes).  And you can’t just pay money to the BBC because you really like their programmes since that money is supposed to come from the licence fee. So, that rules out somebody paying MORE for the service than they have to–that drives the Beeb even nuttier than trying to get a licence for a non-existent address!

Ultimately,  The BBC is a British institution, paid for by the British Public.  It is responsive to its public (well, to some extent).  The British Public should respect it as much as it does government.

To quote Paul Sawers:

But unlike Virgin, Sky, Netflix and such like, nobody has a choice of whether they pay for a TV licence or not. You may never actively watch a BBC programme or visit its website, but you’re sure as hell paying for it if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Even for those that do enjoy BBC content, the ‘lack of choice’ element to the licence fee still gets some people riled.

But here’s the thing. If you were to give people a choice, many would choose not to pay for it and the BBC as we know it would crumble. However, it’s a public service, just as the NHS, police force and fire brigade are, and it should be preserved.

Nothing grates me more than when someone complains about having to pay taxes for services they never use. Speaking to Q magazine last year, superstar singer Adele said:

“I’m mortified to have to pay 50%! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are shit, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [the album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”

There are way too many ‘I’ and ‘my’ references in there. So Adele is rich and doesn’t want to pay for things she doesn’t use? My heart bleeds. The scourge of individualism is growing, and this ‘pull the ladder up and screw the rest’ culture is such a bad omen for society. It’s indicative of a much deeper problem, where people care more about themselves than the success of ‘society’.

Just because the BBC deals in news, entertainment, information and education doesn’t make it any less vital for UK society than a health service. And just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

And Paul is correct when he points out how little the licence costs in relation to other things.  If one considers that one can see a play, opera, ballet, film, and so on–especially a Covent Garden one as part of this service, it is a bargain.  Paul and I are in complete agreement when he says:

But the underlying philosophy (at the BBC) is a sound one – an ad-free public service broadcaster that EVERYONE pays for. That must be preserved, and the UK would be much worse off without it.

Now, my proposal is to stop with the threats and get down to what the BBC is supposed to do: educate. Educate the public as to what an important institution the BBC is to British Culture. Point out that cooperation is what makes Britain work.

Even better yet, show what it’s like in other countries where Public Broadcasting is whining about the lack of support. And the rampant commercialism which one sees in US broadcasting (even the public sector).

As Paul says, But over and above all this, the BBC offers everyone a little respite from the commercially-driven media that permeates every nook and cranny around the world. In the UK, the BBC is an ad-free zone, and it must remain so.

I couldn’t agree more.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part III)

Once again, to recap, Three of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In the first of these two posts, we discuss how the BBC is truly public broadcasting on a global scale supported by public funding. In the Second, we deal with the official attitude of BBC management to this reality, which is to try and deny it.  In this one, we are going to talk about a more positive method to try to get public support.

So, while the BBC says it is cash strapped, they have a far larger budget than US Public Broadcasting.  In fact, I believe that the percentage of people who support the BBC through licence fees is far better than support US Public Broadcasting through the extort-a-thon pledge drives.  Despite this, the BBC believes it makes sense to have the TV licence system brow beat the British Public into paying for the service.

Maybe she would get more respect if we just started calling her "Auntie"!

I could get into the TV detector vans, but I will leave that to Peter.  In fact, Peter’s blog does a pretty good job of getting into the excesses and silliness of the TV licensing system.

BUT, I support the licensing system, not the method by which it tries to get people to support it.

The BBC is a British institution.  I would say it is probably more important than the monarchy, which–given that I am a Royalist–is saying a lot about how important the BBC is to British Culture.  As I said in another post, the fact that “Captain UKIP” is not an ardent supporter of the Beeb makes me truly question how much he supports the UK and its culture.  But, I have my opinions about the UKIP as well and they are not good, but that’s not germane to this post.

The BBC should emphasise how much of a British Institution it is and was intended to be.  It is the public face of Britain, which is one of the many problems it has when it tries to block its material from anyone, or seem authoritiarian in getting people to pay their licence fees..

Of course, I think the BBC should be willing to follow one point in the US Public Broadcasting paradigm, which is to accept the support of its public.  And since that public is worldwide, they should accept it from the world–Not just Britain.  But, they also shouldn’t have to resort to extort-a-thons either.

Of course, there are other ways that the BBC could get more funds besides solely relying upon licence fees.  One of the categories of these posts is the BBC archives.  This is for good reason, how much material isn’t released on DVD for various reasons?  For example, the BBC has this institutional hate for the Goodies and have been pretty bad about releasing their material on DVD.  That’s a topic I’ve covered before.

Of course, BBC archival policies have led to the loss of some classic TV.  I’ve mentioned how the BBC destroyed some classic programmes, which can be researched at these sites:

Fortunately, not everyone was as short sited about this material, but it didn’t survive through the efforts of the BBC.  Can the BBC release things such as “Take Three Girls”, “The Reivers”, and so on, or are they lost forever? Is that a lost revenue stream for them?

The licence resister's nightmare, after a few visits from the TV Detector van, these chappies blow their door down and arrest them for not having a TV licence!

If the major problem to this is that there are right’s holders in other countries which would block the iPlayer downloads, then these other rights holders should start trying to make the material more widely available.  Direct TV in the US has “ethnic” packages, why not ptovide British TV to US audiences (other than some of the other digital rights issues involved)?  Isn’t it the remit of the BBC to make sure this material is as widely seen as is possible? I know that the BBC has satellite coverage for most of the world.

The problem with making people pay for iPlayer material is that some of them have already paid the licence fee, but what about paying for accessing some of the archival material (e.g., the BBC 4 Talk Collection)?  Also, why not try to get the material (such as the Goodies) out officially, rather than the bootleg versions one can find on the internet?

Also, what about the people who use iPlayer material, but don’t jhave a licence?  I know that BBC management would like to get them to pay their fair share, which is the topic of the next post.

Does the BBC need the money or not?  What is the best way to try and collect it?

See also: