Wednesday, 2 March 2011

While the World Service is Cut – BBC 3 Carries on Regardless

As the cuts to  the BBC World Service results in an estimated audience drop of 30 million listeners BBC 3 continues to stimulate the intellect of Britain's youth with educational works such as “Snog, Marry or Avoid.” – a make-under concept where six inches of make up is chipped off some Oompa Loompa munter in an attempt to make her look normal. Then a decision is made as to whether you would give her one or run a mile.

This week saw the BBC World Service (WS) ended its radio broadcasts in Spanish to Latin America. Launched in 1938 to counter the propaganda of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, many might say “So what.” But, along with the other cuts being made at the WS, this will see the audience drop by an estimated 30 million listeners. They'll go somewhere else for their news in English and that means in many cases a return to news sources that will range from the obviously biased to downright lies. And remember that the WS is important in those very areas of the world where there’s not so much a manipulation of the media rather, an outright control.

No matter what we in the UK might think about the BBC and any perceived political agendas and bias, they are by far the most and in some cases the only reliably independent and unbiased news source in many part of the globe. The news will still be available via the internet and mobile phones. But as we’ve seen of late, access to these services can be easily removed by Governments when they feel threatened.

During the Falklands War the WS journalist came under intense pressure from the then Conservative Government for retaining their objectivity.

There’s not much that BBC can do. The World Service is presently funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and they've cut the budget by 16%.
However, starting in 2014, the World Service will be funded by the license fee and if this had been the situation at present there might have been a strong case to make cuts elsewhere.  

An obvious candidate for the knife at any time is the piss-poor BBC 3.

Does anyone know what this channel's remit is?
A fanciful description can be found on their website. Decide for yourself if you think they are talking about the same channel.

Sure, we get the usual bollocks about high quality thought-provoking and original programmes but, originality doesn’t equate to quality. Not on this channel anyway. Neither is much of it innovative.

What we get under the banner of education and learning are programmes where a celebrity slapper shows some budding celebrity slappers how to put their make-up and clothes on so that they too might someday marry a pot-ugly but extremely rich footballer. Much of their so-called educational programmes are nothing more the now commonplace voyeuristic nonsense that veers from the extremes of physical disabilities to drunken tossers spewing up in the street outside some Spanish night club.
This can, is and has been seen on any number of commercial channels ad nauseum.

“The Lock Up” – drunks getting locked up.

“The World’s Strictest Parents” – where they send a couple of dysfunctional teenagers, who have promised to play up to the cameras, to spend a week with the Hitler family in Texas.

“Hotter than My Daughter” – a makeover series where a teenager is tarted up to look as daft as her mother.

“Snog, Marry or Avoid.” – makeunder concept where six inches of make up is chipped off some Oompa Loompa munter in an attempt to make her look normal. Then a decision is made as to whether you would give her one or run a mile.

Now as none of the above shows are scripted, they and many more, fall into the category of factual programming and that means educational. If one of the drunks sings you can bet they’ll file it under the “Arts”. This one supposes makes them intellectually stimulating. (A check of the programme categories on the i-player shows this a common ploy right across the BBC.) And if one of the inebriates promises never to drink again then that will no doubt be seen as fulfilling the channel’s rather Orwellian idea that they should have a role in “Sustaining citizenship and civil society”.

BBC 3 can claim no more than a handful of quality programmes. The “Mighty Bush” aside, much of that quality depends on repeats of BBC 1’s DR Who and American animation from the stable of the excellent Seth McFarlane which can also be seen elsewhere. It is not just an example of youth led television at its worst; it is an example of any kind of television at its worst. Furthermore, the fickle teenage audience that it is aimed at is greatly enhanced by its ability to reshow popular programmes from BBC 1. but because they target a specific age group they can claim success from meagre viewing figures.

The channel quite rightly continues to receive criticism from others in the industry for promising all sorts of things to get on the air and then doing whatever they like. Even after this they carry on regardless. How they get away with it remains a mystery. But, if they continue down the road of aping commercial television then their claim to the license fee will become increasingly hard to justify, if it can be justified at all. While ITV, SKY and the rest can happily go about their business on the basis that it is only TV, the pretentious guff that that emanates from the BBC will remain just that as long as they make the kind of mind-numbing crap that is BBC 3. 

On the other hand, the top brass at the Beeb get paid enormous amounts of cash to run the corporation which the rest of pay for, with the exclusion of teenagers of course, so they must know what their doing.

Chaytor – Eat Your Porridge and Shut Up.

First of all they attempted to avoid being tried in court. Spouting nonsense that because they were MPs they should be somehow be tried by their fellow crooks. But the best is kept for last.

After pleading guilty to dishonestly claiming Parliamentary expenses and getting a mere 18 moths in the pokey, which will mean he’ll be out in about half of that, former Labour MP David Chaytor has the nerve to appeal his sentence.

Chaytor, like the rest of his cronies in Parliament, was big on law and order and pandering to the “crime and punishment” agendas of the tabloids, while all the time he was stealing from the rest of us.

Using a defence of crass incompetence, most of them managed to get away with it. But, they never convinced the public that they were sorry for anything - other than getting caught. And of course many of them still can’t see that they’ve done much, if anything, wrong. When they did, they somehow thought that they shouldn’t be punished.

In a position of trust, they abused it. And if Chaytor thinks that his sentence is disproportionate to his crime then a kick up the arse with a size 10  reality boot is in order.

He might want to consider that had his sentence had been decided by public opinion the key would have been thrown away.

So he would be better to shut up, do his time and then just disappear from public view.