Payback? Osborne’s raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted

Ideologically-driven Conservatives have seized the economic crisis to knock back the BBC – and it only took 48 hours, writes Left Foot Forward's Joy Johnson.

So the Tory-led coalition government has gone on its rampage and at the last minute demonstrated the shambolic nature of the cuts, or more correctly I should  imagine, Tory ideological calculation, the BBC was ambushed. Commercial opponents have long wanted to diminish the BBC and in the pages of the Daily Mail and News International its programming and its people come in for a battering. Even in the last few weeks there were complaints about the number of BBC people in Chile covering one of the truly great global stories.

The warning signs came with James Murdoch’s speech in Edinburgh which took the attacks to a different level. Pursuing News Corporation’s business interests, which sees profit in everything, he railed against the BBC’s brilliant web service and declared that the BBC was embarking on a land grab. This was all too much for the Murdochs; for them, the only empire that should grow is News Corporation.

James Murdoch argued:

“The BBC is dominant… Other organisations might rise and fall but the BBC’s income is guaranteed and growing.”

And so you had it. Clear warning signs that took the BBC hierarchy a whole year to counter-attack with Mark Thompson’s speech in the same venue last August. Thompson didn’t go all out with guns blazing but he did make an important, and with today’s news, prescient point:

“A pound out of the commissioning budget of the BBC is a pound out of [the] UK creative economy. Once gone, it will be gone forever.”

It was a defiance that lasted all of a three months. Faced with government battalions, he waved the white flag. The Corporation will now have to pay for the BBC World Service previously paid for by the Foreign office. And the licence fee is frozen for six years. Osborne also gave Rupert and James what they wanted – a commitment from the BBC to spend less on its website.

And calls for the BBC to go down the subscriptions route have already begun. It must be avoided at all costs. The consequence of the ambush has meant that public service is no longer regarded as a public good. The BBC fat cats with their bloated salaries lived high on the hog and it has weakened them; ideologically-driven Conservatives have seized the economic crisis to knock back the BBC – and it only took 48 hours.

49 Responses to “Payback? Osborne’s raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted”

  1. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  2. Andrew Tindall

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  3. Ali Cummings

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  4. Ma

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  5. michael john day

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  6. Ma

    RT @leftfootfwd Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K >>So don't buy their products

  7. MayorWatch

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K < it's largely self inflicted

  8. Gordon Gibson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  9. Kerry McCarthy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  10. Jonathan Clark

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  11. Paul Seery

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  12. C.W.Thomas

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  13. Abid Iqbal

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  14. Grey

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  15. jaqi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  16. James Bunker

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  17. Cheryl Reynolds

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  18. Celyn

    RT @GinWales: RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  19. Guerra Eterna

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  20. Gullible Seagull

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  21. Malcolm Evison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  22. PoldoSbaffini

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  23. Matthew

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  24. Will Roberts

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  25. Graafen Blackpaw

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  26. Emma Poole

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  27. Billy Blofeld

    This isn’t an ideological kicking. 16% cuts are a pathetic first attempt to get the BBC to live in the real world and share some of the pain.

    If this were ideological – the BBC would be decimated and re-built from the bottom up. If it were idealogical – the BBC would undergo massive change and not just a receive a tiny cutback in its vast and squandered budget.

  28. Jem Stone

    "gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted" @leftfootfwd //bit.ly/dhreOu #bbc #sr10 (2 of 3)

  29. Cheryl Reynolds

    Ideological in the sense that this Government seems to accept the market as it’s own justification. What evidence do we have that markets are the answer? The credit crunch, perhaps…

  30. Tim Rose

    The BBC is one of our greatest cultural institutions. It is also a vitally important part of our democracy: as a national broadcaster its independence from government is unique. It’s already in the process of putting its own hose in order in the case of too-high salaries etc. It was however quite wrong for the BBC to let the government use some of the licence fee to subsidise the digital changeover and now to pay for free TV licences for the over 75s. The licence fee is a symbol of the contract between the population and an independent BBC, which is why people generally accept the need to pay it. Once it starts to be seen as just yet another source of government revenue, that accceptance will disappear and it will become increasingly difficult to argue that it should remain at an adequate level.

  31. Guy Manchester

    Payback? Osborne’s raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //tinyurl.com/34ugqll

  32. Stephen W

    The BBC is funded by a regressive tax. The government has frozen that regressive tax for 6 years. You are blatantly and openly campaigning for raising regressive taxation because your loyalty to the liberal-left metropolitan, champagne socialist elite trumps any loyalty you may feel for poor and working people in this country.

  33. Mike Thomas

    When Sky’s revenues match those of the BBC’s then I’ll pay attention to any argument to be had here.

    If I were you I’d take off your tinfoil hat.

    As for the BBC cuts, they got off very lightly, firms have been reducing costs by 20%+ and letting over 10% of the workforce go. As for the BBC’s creative output, frankly speaking, it’s shite.

  34. Martin Jones

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  35. Alan W

    @Mike Thomas

    Sky’s latest annual revenue figures are £5.9 billion, whereas the BBC’s licence fee revenues stand at about £4.8 billion, so you should be paying attention right now.

    And if you want to compare creative output, all Sky shows are American imports, sport and movies. They’ve only made about 2 or 3 original dramas since they launched. By contrast the BBC actually spends the bulk of its revenues making original programmes. Without it investment in British TV productions would plummet.

  36. Henry

    I do love to hear Tories drivel on about ‘metropolitan elites’. What on earth do they think Osborne, Cameron etc are?

  37. Jack Stone

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  38. yorkierosie

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/9csrah

  39. goktay koraltan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Payback? Osborne's raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted: //bit.ly/bFcM3K

  40. Ryan

    Henry, you raise a valid point I’ve been meaning to rant about for some time.

    The Conservatives are quick to condemn those who mock David Cameron on the grounds of his wealth and privileged upbringing. On this issue, I agree entirely with them! Reverse snobbery is a nasty, petty and insecure that only distracts from the important issues of ideology and policy.

    And yet these very same Conservatives are the ones quickest to make frequent reference to “the liberal metropolitan elite”. Well, which is it then, lads? You either endorse class war or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

    Just as you defend the rich as wealth creators, so you must acknowledge the “liberal metropolitan elites” as educated academics. You may disagree with them – it may surprise you to learn that far from being a lefty myself, I actually truly despise the Labour Party and am quite classically liberal… hence my infrequent posting here! – but said disagreement does not give you the right to mock your peers in the same way you decry those who imply something from David Cameron’s background.

    TL;DR: stop being hypocrites, mates.

  41. Stephen P

    @ Alan W

    So Sky’s revenue is £5.9 billion which people have actively chosen to pay via subscriptions, whilst the BBC receives £4.8 billion through taxation (aka licence fee).

    This shows that people are clearly willing to pay for entertainment on TV – in fact, they’re willing to pay this in addition to the licence fee and Sky get more revenue than the BBC off the back of it.

    That being the case and if the BBC is so amazing, why don’t they cancel the licence fee and go down the subscription route like Sky? If they provide a service that everyone appreciates so much, they’d surely be able to maintain or even increase their revenue.

  42. Stephen P

    As for the blog post itself, there’s a couple of things to point out:

    1) With regards to the Chile coverage, the complaints didn’t relate to the BBC covering the news. It was because they sent 26 members of staff to cover this event, which was more than ITV, Channel 4 & Sky News combined. If three channels can cover the news adequately with less staff, why can’t the BBC? This is just another example of the BBC spending more than it needs to, just because it can.

    2) Mark Thompson’s comment that “A pound out of the commissioning budget of the BBC is a pound out of [the] UK creative economy. Once gone, it will be gone forever.” How ridiculous is that statement? Does that mean that if the licence fee was abolished and £4.8 billion wasn’t taxed, not a single pound would be spent on creative content? His comment suggests he thinks that the BBC IS the UK creative economy.

  43. simon

    Since when was light entertainment an essential public service? The BBC exists for the benefit of its staff, luvvies and propagates leftwing ideology. I have no problem with this but I do not see why I should be taxed to pay for it, this is undemocratic. If, as the BBC keeps telling us, the public loves the BBC then surely it follows they can thrive as a subscription channel.

  44. adrian

    Mark Thompson is a thieving, lying twat who is trying to justify his near million pound annual salary. He would make up anything

  45. Mr. Sensible

    Joy I fully agree with you.

    I think an independent public service broadcaster like the BBC is something that is important for our democracy.

    I think we should remind ourselves that the owners of the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Guardian and others wrote last week to Vince Cable expressing their concerns about how much power News International has.

    For me, cutting the BBC’s revenues and giving it more responsibilities is like the economics primer written by a 6 year-old.

  46. HampsteadOwl

    @Ryan

    Attacks on the “liberal metropolitan elite” have got absolutely nothing to do with a “class war” and they are not the mirror of people who sneer at Cameron, Osborne and the others for their family background and upbringing. By all means lay into Tory policies if you think they are wrong, but just attacking people for being wealthy or for where they went to school is both unfair and, more importantly, reveals that the attacker lacks the intellectual wherewithal to critique the policies rather than resort to easy playground jibes.

    By contrast those who are (like me) disdainful of the LMEs are that way (in my case anyway) not because of who they are, or the jobs they do, but because of their arrogant assumptions that their way of seeing the world is the only humane, rational or enlightened point of view it is possible to have. Those who, for example, criticise the BBC, do so, in the LME world-view, not because we might think that the Corporation ought to be better run or take its share of the financial hardship or because there is a respectable argument for private enterprise over public funding, but because we are malign or stupid or work for Rupert Murdoch.

    For as long as the LME holds to these imperious attitudes – which I suspect will be forever – they will bet attacked for it, and deservedly so. But not simply for who they are.

  47. HampsteadOwl

    @Ryan

    Attacks on the “liberal metropolitan elite” have got absolutely nothing to do with a “class war” and they are not the mirror of people who sneer at Cameron, Osborne and the others for their family background and upbringing. By all means lay into Tory policies if you think they are wrong, but just attacking people for being wealthy or for where they went to school is both unfair and, more importantly, reveals that the attacker lacks the intellectual wherewithal to critique the policies rather than resort to easy playground jibes.

    By contrast those who are (like me) disdainful of the LMEs are that way (in my case anyway) not because of who they are, or the jobs they do, but because of their arrogant assumptions that their way of seeing the world is the only humane, rational or enlightened point of view it is possible to have. Those who, for example, criticise the BBC, do so, in the LME world-view, not because we might think that the Corporation ought to be better run or take its share of the financial hardship or because there is a respectable argument for private enterprise over public funding, but because we are malign or stupid or work for Rupert Murdoch. (No doubt the LME would say that the first two are a pre-condition for the third.)

    For as long as the LME holds to these imperious attitudes – which I suspect will be forever – they will bet attacked for it, and deservedly so. But not simply for who they are.

  48. Bob

    The BBC has become the propaganda arm of the Fabians.
    The Television Licence is an anachronism, it should be subscription based, and then TV owners can decide if they want to pay for the BBC or not.

    Does anyone know why they’re so scared of publishing the Balen Report?

  49. Patrick Devlin

    Payback? Osborne’s raid on BBC gives Murdochs exactly what they wanted //bit.ly/b60IQD /cc @feedly

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