The economy is flat-lining, unemployment is still bad, growth is non-existent. And the press is full of bad news. So a success story should be right up their street, a slice of good news to lift the spirits on another grey February day. And if the story was of a British company generating a whopping eight billion pounds’ worth of business, well, the hacks would be on to it like a shot.
Media City Studios, Salford Quays
Well, last year there was such a success story. So where was the Fourth Estate? Perhaps there was some greater news story for them to cover. Maybe they just missed it. Surely no news outlet would pass it up, knowing the story was out there? Ah well. That very much depends on the name of the organisation making the money. Because that organisation was the BBC.
And most of the press is screamingly hostile not just to the BBC, but also to Channel 4, and to a lesser extent any other broadcaster (bar the Murdoch press giving Sky a free pass, and Richard “Dirty” Desmond’s papers telling their dwindling band of readers that Channel 5 is Really Very Wonderful, Honestly). So the UK press, by complete coincidence you understand, ignored the news.
Perhaps the figures were unreliable? Maybe not: although the Beeb commissioned the report, the numbers were crunched by Deloitte. The brief was “to quantify the BBC’s economic impact on the UK economy”. This would be “based on standard multiplier analysis”. The result would show whether the licence fee disappeared into some kind of mythical black hole, or brought positive benefits.
The problem for much of the Fourth Estate is that they hold tenaciously to the mythical black hole concept: nothing, but nothing of any benefit can be admitted to come out of the hated BBC. So unless Deloitte came up with a conclusion that matched their prejudice, they weren’t about to splash it all over the front page and thereby admit to having sold their readers another pup.
So what was the Deloitte conclusion? Put directly, in 2011/12, the Corporation’s total UK operating expenditure was £4,341 million, and the Gross Value Added (GVA) of £8,323 million. That means the BBC generated £2 of economic value for each £1 of the licence fee. The analysis can be seen in detail HERE [.pdf]. There were significant regional variations, with London’s share declining.
Where, then, was the joyful reporting? It wasn’t: apart from Digital Spy and Movie Scope, you’ll be hard pressed to find even a mention (the Hollywood Reporter also covered the story). A more blatant example of selective amnesia from the Fourth Estate would be hard to find. But rest assured that if the Beeb spends the odd 5p that the press finds suspicious, they’ll be there in double quick time.
It’s called hypocrisy, and it’s a UK newspaper speciality. No change there, then.