2010 — My responses to the BBC Trust strategy review
As submitted earlier today:
Do you think these are the right principles?
"Up to a point, Lord Copper". Bowing, whether implicitly or explicitly, to commercial and political lobbying from what you could call the Daily Mail, Murdoch, Tory axis is not a smart idea. Given that (with exceptions I hope I can address in later questions) the BBC already excels in much that it does, doing fewer things better is a ludicrous direction to take.
Should the BBC have any other strategic principles?
Listening to fewer focus groups and using less of what Private Eye describes as "Birt Speak" would be good. Appointing a Director General who doesn't sound like an inarticulate buffoon when fronted by PD James would also be good.
Which BBC output do you think could be higher quality?
BBC3 has a mountain to climb before reaching even mediocre quality. BBC4 is pretty much there. BBC2 now seems like the BBC1 of two decades ago. BBC1 is only slightly better than BBC3. Radio 1/1xtra are appalling. Radio 2 is generally excellent, as is Radio 3. Radio 4 can be inane. I don't "do" Radio 5. 6Music is a gem. BBC7 can be good. World Service ditto. The web site could be better, but is pretty damned good already. Listen again is excellent.
Which areas should the BBC make more distinctive from other broadcasters and media?
6Music is already doing this superbly. Radio 3 is also almost beyond compare. Radio 1 just doesn't cut it. BBC1 has also dumbed down. Science documentaries on BBC2 have become more like MTV. Recaps every 15 minutes, jump cuts, pounding music. You must be joking. BBC4 is already doing this superbly. The HD service is, of course, currently lacking any overall "flavour" as it's of necessity more of a patchwork quilt.
Do these [five editorial] priorities fit with your expectations of BBC TV, radio and online services?
The priorities certainly fit. Their current execution falls well short in some areas. Celebrity emphasis, raw talent shows, pandering to what strikes me as the lowest common denominator. With the licence fee income, why this stupid attempt to go for mass market appeal? You risk precisely what makes the BBC a global cultural jewel. Stop it!
Doing fewer things and doing them better
It is stupid even to think of closing 6Music. No way can you dissipate its output across any of your other networks and it's insulting to listen to Mr Davie pretending (on Feedback) this is even an option. Our Asian friends are not well-served if you close that network, either. Perhaps if you overspend less on buildings and on multiple layers of senior managers... Do you really begin to understand the anger you are provoking? It would seem not.
Guaranteeing access to BBC services
DAB is a poor joke, and we're not even using up to date technology. Shame on you. Hi-def on Freeview merely spoils the SD experience for everyone. Shame on you again. Use the bandwidth from satellite. The "Digital Britain" report was very depressing. Put 6Music on FM, and displace Radio 1. You'll soon discover where your music lovers are.
The BBC archive
The archive is a great idea. Fabulous. What a pity so much has already been wiped, of course. The seven day limit is annoying, but obviously there are cost implications.
Making the licence fee work harder
Personally, I cannot understand why the BBC spends money on sports and films (but that's just me). DVDs, Blu-ray and dedicated sports satellite channels are not exactly in short supply, and BBC money spent here is just adding to the "noise" level. Let's have documentaries, drama, arts, foreign-language (world cinema, if you will) and the best of US TV (which, at its best, can all too often put the UK to shame). Do this, and you can double my licence fee. It will still be cheap.
Setting new boundaries for the BBC
Categorising 6Music as "pop music" demonstrates the lack of understanding right there... The best US drama and comedy is world-class. Yes, limit sports spending. Local BBC has yet to impress me over the last 25 years. Have you ever actually clearly articulated the purpose of the BBC web site?
Should any other areas be on this list?
The BBC should always push against a boundary, rather than set up a new one. Grow some (I was going to say "balls") testicles, for god's sake. Stand up to the Murdochs and Daily Mails of this sorry world. They are only interested in telling you what to fear and who's to blame (and making money, of course). Just imagine for a moment interstellar reception of the Earth's broadcast output. Would that from the BBC make us proud??? It should!
COMPLAIN HERE! ("Your complaint is important to us." We shall see!)