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Monday 15 June 2015

Mail BBC Assault Busted

There have been some raised eyebrows following an interview given to Radio Times by Jonathan Dimbleby, headlined “The BBC must be defended against ‘powerful, vested interests’”. Who might he have had in mind? Ah well. Fortunately, the suspense did not last too long: less than two days later, the Daily Mail has splashedBBC spends less than half its cash on programmes: Critics demand inquiry into 'staggering' waste as it's revealed £230,000 of licence fee money was spent on TEA”.
Nation shall speak peace unto nation. But not, perhaps, the Daily Mail nation

TEA? You got it: “Just £2.4billion of BBC's £5.1billion annual budget went on programmes … Remaining cash went on middle-managers, running its buildings and tea … Only £217million was spent on job of actually transmitting the programmes … MPs said the figures were ‘staggering’ and called for parliamentary inquiry”. If only the MPs approached by the Mail had actually been given the full picture.

That full picture would mean desisting from the Mail’s highly selective approach, reminiscent of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). The figure of £2.4billion is only arrived at if some of the costs of programme-making are stripped away. And the Mail has had to resort to actual dishonesty to make its case.
Take this gem on BBC Worldwide: “The Corporation also pumped money into its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and BBC Global News, producing content for audiences overseas”. Would the Beeb press office care to comment? “Mail also says BBC 'pumps money' into commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. But Worldwide not funded by licence fee & makes money for UK programmes”. Pretty close to pants on fire, then.
The rebuttal team had more: “Mail story ignores basic facts like around £270m of licence fee taken to support S4C & govt projects like broadband rollout & local TV … According to Mail, prog costs don't include newsrooms, edit suites, storyline development etc without which you wouldn't have any programmes”. That’s the highly selective approach right there, and another borderline whopper. And there’s more.
Actually 90% of spending we control is on content, distribution & related support costs - figure is independently verified” tell the BBC press people. The problem the Mail has is that, against this figure, their best shot is to tell readers “12: Number of managers in BBC TV’s team of 24 that have the word ‘Controller’ in their job title” (so what?), and “4,420: Number of job titles at the BBC, according to FOI in 2011” (again, so what?).
Plus there is the inevitable “100: Members of staff who earn more than the Prime Minister”, which is yet more dishonesty, as Young Dave (or whoever is in 10 Downing Street) gets a prime central London house rent-free, which is worth hundreds of thousands more per annum. One could go on: the Mail keeps churning out this slanted drivel, and the only surprise is that three MPs have fallen for it.

Fortunately, less and less of the viewing public are interested. Including their own readers.


Andy McDonald said...

I wonder how many members of staff on a national newspaper have the word 'editor' in their job title.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day, - and apparently to put him in his place - Margaret Thatcher told Michael Edwardes then chairman of British Leyland that he was earning more than her as prime minister. His reply was typically robust; he pointed out and put a value on her house, her car, her pension and her expenses. The journalist who reported this reported Edwardes as saying that Thatcher shut up and never complained about what he was earning again.

Philip O'Hear

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many newspapers, or newspaper websites, that you don't like and don't read, are out there where you have to pay them £145.50 a year, just for the legal right to go and read a newspaper, or newspaper website that you do like? Also, before anyone harps on about hidden costs of advertising, please remember that hidden costs in the price of purchased goods also pays for other forms of advertising besides TV advertising, eg billboards, Google, on the backs of buses etc.

Until that issue is addressed and made fairer, the DM, and anyone else, with or without a vested interest in ITV or other broadcaster, are entitled to question, on a daily basis the operations, spending, bias and funding of the BBC.

Tim Fenton said...


The Mail, and indeed any other media outlet, is quite entitled to raise questions about the BBC.

By the same token, I am equally entitled to call them out for misleading their readers.

Ceiliog said...

Did you know that thousands of people like me don't pay £145.50 per year because we don't watch live TV and have no interest in live TV. The same applies with shit rags like the Daily Mail - Millions of people don't buy them.
Having said that I don't watch live TV and I don't buy crappy bigoted newspapers, I'm not immune from the hordes of tossers who do.
I'd be quite happy to pay £145.50 per year for Dacre & Co, the wasters at the Daily Telegraph and Spectator to shut the fuck up and fuck right off permanently to somewhere with no modern communications network.

Andy McDonald said...

@3, @5,

Indeed. Radio is free. iPlayer is free. Well, aside from the basic equipment and electricity...

Television is by no means essential to modern life. We're just told it is, by people on television.

Andrew Barker said...

I wonder, if we did the same analysis on the Daily Mail, what we'd come up with.

Take the cost of journalists getting and writing the news. Then divide it by the sum of this plus:
a) the cost of the offices they work in
b) the cost of printing and distributing the paper
c) the cost of the editor and the management team
d) the cost of the advertising department.

Would this percentage be that different from the one they've quoted for the BBC?

DBC said...

I see that that today's Times editorial is quoting these same misleading figures as a means of having a go (as usual) at the BBC. What's ironic is that in the same edition they have published a small article where the BBC have rebutted those misleading statistics.

LiamKav said...

The licence fee is only required for live television, and yet it covers a whole lot more. Should people pay who use iPlayer? Or listen to the radio? Or check the BBC News web-site everyday?

(Note: I don't know.)