Archive for the ‘public broadcasting’ Category

The Crappy State of the US Media

First it starts with a set of subway ads for shows like Married to a Mime and Bayou Eskimos:

Of course, I have to admit a disgust with how US Media has been consolidated into 6 Corporations controlling 90% of the media in the US, from 50 companies back in 1983.

This info-graphic details what that means to the average person in the US, which is why people might think these shows are real.

They aren’t, they are part of an ad campaign by New York Public Broadcasting, WNET.


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.

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:

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

I want to reiterate some things I mentioned in Part I of this:

Two of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In Ye Olden Dayes, the BBC Motto was “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”.  I don’t think it has changed.

In this post, we deal with the topic of funding the BBC, in particular the licence fee. The BBC’s Website says that one does not need a licence if “you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast”:

That’s also reiterated on Peter’s blog, and confirmed by someone at the BBC. Who said:

“I’m afraid you can’t pay a TV licence if you live outside the UK, but you shouldn’t be able to access the iPlayer either so I am intrigued!

Unfortunately, due to the miracle of the Internet, you can get this material from anywhere in the world. So, not only does  one who access the BBC material from outside they UK not have to pay a licence fee, they won’t take your money.

Additionally, blocking movement in the modern world, especially via internet is pretty hard.  Government can track it to some extent, but it is hard to block.  Which should fit into the BBC’s mission if you ask me, but some at the Beeb officially disagree (some unofficially admit that I am correct–more about that in a later post) as the comment above points out.

I pointed out to my contact at the Beeb that it depends on which iPlayer material one is talking about–radio is open to non-UK residents. In fact, my internet radio is mostly BBC, with the exception of Classic FM.  Classic FM is less tetchy about who listens as well, only requiring one to input a British Post Code to access it!

If even that!

But, Televised material. Well, that is another topic. It is indeed available to users outside the UK. I’d prefer not to say  of accessing it since the BBC would upset quite a few people in the UK if they tried shutting it down.  In fact, the boffins have tried shutting down the method that one can access BBC material when outside the UK, which was an experiment that lasted less than a day!  Or even a few hours at that matter.

In old fashioned broadcasting terms, the way someone is able to access this material roughly the equivalent of not being able to block TV/radio signals from going where they will. It can be done, but you also risk blocking the signal of your internal audience (i.e., those who are paying their licence fees).  Although, there ia another BBC purpose which they run afoul of if they try to keep people from outside the UK accessing the iPlayer material:  Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services.

So,  trying to block access violates three public purposes as set out in the BBC’s Royal Charter mentioned above.  It is totally counterproductive for the BBC’s mission statement to block access to its material.

Nope, no one living here--I guess I can't get a Television Licence!

Not to mention, they end up with egg on their faces when it comes out that they tried something as silly as that.  That’s what China does, not Britain!

The reason I contacted the BBC is because I blog about UK TV licensing. One of my pro-licensing posts was commented upon by Peter who runs the blogspot blog on TV licensing. It seems there are those within the UK who don’t want to pay their fair share.

Unlike our TV license resisting crowd,There are people who are willing to pony up since I am using the service. I mentioned that I was thinking of using the address to apply for a licence to see what would happen:

21 Framley Road
Effing Sodbury TL3 8RZ

TL3 8RZ being the Post Code used in a BBC Weather advert, which is one of my high ranking blog posts.  Of course, I could use the street in the weather advert

Of course, an alternative address is

1 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1A 1AA

It would be amusing to see the licensing folks face when they need to contact that one!

I do have a couple of Scottish and UK Addresses given I have property there, but  the Scottish ones are undeveloped land (oops, property is not occupied).  I’d love to see the face on the TV Detector van crew if they decided to bust that property!  The problem with using a IK address is that you need to have someone who is willing to field any mail.

In fact, the BBC website. linked to my Anna Nicole The Opera post  since I say:

I’m not sure I would want to pay Covent Garden prices to see this, but it will definitely be worth the TV Licence fees on the BBC!

Thank you, Auntie! yer darn tootin’ I added it to my iPlayer playlist!

If one considers, that the cost of a licence is only 149.50, that is less than a good ticket to see a Covent Garden production.  And you don’t feel too bad if you walk out after 15 minutes!

Unlike US Public Broadcasting, who are willing to take the money since they know they need it–The BBC are turning people away!  Maybe they have too large a budget that they can avoid all the ways to make money that they do.

Of course, as Peter who runs the blogspot site, will happily tell me, as long as one is not watching the material when it’s being broadcast (sort of difficult), one doesn’t need a licence–even within the UK.  He probably thinks that this post is a bit mad as well–why support the BBC if you don’t absolutely HAVE to (which is the topic of Part III).

Like it or not, the BBC is not just a UK broadcasting service, its mission is to broadcast to the world.  In a way, it is part of the heritage of Empire that people from outside the UK will feel an affinity for it, The BBC should be thankful when the world is willing to give back to them.

Of course, there is a schizophrenia in the BBC institution between the World Service and Internal BBC.  I believe at one time, the World Service was under the auspices of the Foreign Office (now, it’s the World Service Trust, as opposed to the BBC Trust).  And while Nations may speak unto Nation, I don’t think that Internal and Externals Services talk unto each other.  Additionally, I don’t think that the internal services realise that they also serve the ex-pat community and Brits abroad on holiday–whether they like it or not.

Perhaps, the internal services should do a bit more market research on their audience–and accept comments from ALL their users, not just UK residents.

See also:

P.S. I also advocate the use of region free DVD and Blu-ray players.

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

The title from this post comes from the World Services int signal, but it seems quite appropriate.  Two of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In Ye Olden Dayes, the BBC Motto was “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”.  I don’t think it has changed.

NPR’s John Hackenbberry was a guest announcer on the BBC World Service recently and also pointed out that the BBC is indeed public broadcasting in its most pure sense.

In other words, the BBC is truly public radio, which is supported by the British Public through Television licences.

While I understand this, I want to say that I’ve added Peter’s blog,, to my blogroll.  While I disagree with him about paying licence fees and the system of licence fees, I do agree with him about how the BBC tries to raise its funds.  I am of the impression that Peter would say their methods are coercive.  I think we are in agreement that they are misguided.

As regular readers will know, I frequently browse the internet looking for TV Licensing related articles and trivia. Every day someone has a new take on what the TV licence fee is, what it’s for and how it’s enforced.

Peter and I are in agreement that the TV detector van is one of the more idiotic things going…

The question is would people such as Peter prefer to have the BBC follow US public broadcasting’s model and start having “extort-a-thons”? That’s where they take a week or two from regularly scheduled programming to try and shame their viewers into coughing up the cash to run their show. They might show a few minutes of a programme to come on and say “we need x amount of pledges to make our goal”.

One PBS station actually harangued the people who weren’t supporting public broadcasting as a bunch of leeches.

But as the US public broadcasting model points out: “if you have our station on your preset, you are a user. That means you should be a member as well”.

Member being a more polite term than licence holder.

Or you can have commercials.

I would add that US cable not only makes you pay, but they add more commercials to an already over commercially saturated programme. Cable in the US also costs as much, if not far more, than a  Colour Television Licence with, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”.

The ultimate point is that people who use the service should pay for it.  And while US public Broadcasting has a poor ratio of members to listeners, the BBC does not.

There is, of course, another aspect to all this, which is the BBC would like its material to be viewed within the UK due to licensing agreements with its partners (E.g., Discovery Channel and US Public Broadcasting). That is going to be the topic of Part II.

See also:

Call the Midwife!

Is the Title of a BBC drama about a woman who is a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s and based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth.

I was curious if it would make it to the US airwaves given it deals with two no-nos in US politics–woment’s health and nationalised health care.  According to this website, it sounds unlikely.  And given that the repubnlicans are waging a war on women’s reproductive rights, that is yet another no-no.

One can’t have a show on TV praising “socialised medicine” and talking about women’s reproductive issues.

Even though US’s Public Broadcasting pretends to be a true Public Broadcasting service, it is still beholdent to the commercial interests which can stifle information and debate. The problem is that while there may be no governmental intereference in the markertplace of ideas, there certainly is private censorship,

Still, this is a series which should be seen by people in the US for precisely the above reasons. Why are these topics taboo in a society which is allegedly free?

People in the US can probably find this online for download if they know the right places to look. I am a strong believer in the region free DVD player jsut for the ability to break down the international barriers to information.

I can add that the book and audiobook are available for sale in the US.

More thoughts on BBC funding

I thought about adding this to my previous post, but it is more of a comment made in jest than one with any serious value–the BBC could adopt the same model as US Public broadcasting–with fundraisers and “underwriting”.  Of course, that wouldn’t go over very well since people already pay TV licence fees.  Additionally, I am not sure of the compliance with UK TV Licence fees, but I would hazard a guess that it is much better than that of people who pay for US public broadcasting.  Toss in that “underwriting” is basically a euphemism for commericals and it would be cause for revolt amongst the licence holders.

Likewise, US commercial broadcasting mostly runs along cable or other providers such that most of the programming is commercials of some sort.  That is tremendously annoying if one is paying for cable or satellite to have to sit through what is mostly commercials.

So, I have no problem with the TV licence fee or paying for the services if my contribution will keep the programming non-commercial.