Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carter To Grade BBC Successes (Allegedly)

The BBC may soon be forced to give up some of its three and a half billion quid public funding in a massive shake-up of the licence fee, it has been claimed. The technology minister, Lord Carter, is expected to propose 'top slicing' the BBC's budget by up to one hundred and thirty million smackers to help under-pressure ITV and other programme-makers, according to the completely unbiased and agenda-soaked Sunday Telegraph. Carter's White Paper - to be presented to the Cabinet on Tuesday - could also call for Channel Four to receive financial support through a partnership with BBC Worldwide, the corporation's lucrative commercial arm. Under the reported proposals, up to one hundred million knicker of the BBC's funding could be used to pay independent companies to make regional news programmes for ITV. Another thirty million notes of licence fee money could be made available for producers to make current affairs documentaries, to be viewed either on television or on the Internet. The BBC was unavailable for comment concerning the reports but last month Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, said the licence fee should be used to pay only for BBC-related content. He said: 'People would do well to remember that licence fee payers give us their money in good faith, believing it will be spent on BBC services and content. To suddenly tell them midway through the settlement that their money is being siphoned off, as some have suggested it should be, would be more than an act of bad faith, it would be tantamount to breaking a contract.'

Interestingly, Carter is also reported to be on the verge of stepping down from his minsterial post to rejoin the private sector after he publishes his Digital Britain report, increasing speculation that he is putting himself in the running for the top job at ITV. The Times reports that in last week's Cabinet reshuffle, Carter told Gordon Brown that he would be leaving the government in July. The former Ofcom chief executive was parachuted into his current post in October last year to build on the regulator's public service broadcasting review and to devise - and push through - a broader digital blueprint for the UK. Carter was beaten to the ITV executive chairman's job by Michael Grade three years ago and he is rumoured to be applying again now that Grade is vacating the post.

Whilst the BBC's publicly-funded position has come under more and more scrutiny as its commercial rivals have struggled in the economic downturn - and a few wretched, rent-a-quote Tory MPs have used the opportunity to stir up trouble with the help of their scum mates in the print media - most people with half-a-brain in their skull realise that taking funds from the BBC and reallocating them to the commercial media is a truly dreadful idea and a slap in the face to every licence fee payer. Writer and comedian Davey Mitchell recently noted that no-one would ever dream of taking money out of the NHS to prop up a private health company like, say, BUPA. So why, therefore, should the BBC - with its public service remit - be expected to prop up any commercially funded broadcaster? Given that ITV has been grossly mismanaged for many years - going back to the ITV Digital fiasco and the ridiculous purchase of Friends Reunited - why should public money be used to bail them out? That's almost communist. And, the question simply has to be asked, will the reverse be true in times of economic growth? When things get rosy again, will ITV be expected to give up a slice of their profits from X-Factor's premier rate telephone lines to help the BBC produce Panorama? I'm betting I know the answer to that one.

However, in far brighter news, Gallifrey Base - the de facto successor to The Doctor Who Forum - is already up and running much sooner than expected. It's already got over three thousand members and it's only been open fourteen hours! Check it out. Tell 'em I sent you!

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