The Corporation irks Creepy Uncle Rupe by its very presence: the funding model, via a license fee, is anathema to him. Its news and current affairs coverage stands, despite the accusations of bias (mainly from the right), as the gold standard others seek to emulate. Its family entertainment still garners large audiences. And its drama productions far outshine Sky’s Stateside imports and put its home grown content to shame.
So today we saw part of that quid pro quo, as demonstrated on the front page of Rupe’s own Sunday Times. “Osborne hits BBC to pay welfare bill” span the headline, suggesting that there was some altruistic motive for shifting responsibility for free licences for over-75s onto the Corporation, rather than it being a down payment on what the Tories now owe the Dirty Digger. Moreover, there appeared to be more BBC bashing to come.
We can ascertain this from the interventions today from the serially clueless yet totally loyal Murdoch servant Tim Montgomerie, who has been dutifully denouncing the hated Beeb. Showing his agreement with the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, he told “Osborne absolutely right about BBC website. It's an unfair competitor to all other journalism that doesn't have licence fee subsidy”.
The licence fee, as any fule kno, is not a subsidy. Note also the key word “unfair”, a favourite of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, used to demonise targets without having to resort to inconvenient things like facts. Monty also railed against HS2 - this fits with the Murdoch aversion to Government intervention - before having to resort to citing the Guido Fawkes blog in his desperation to keep on BBC bashing.
“So BBC plans to stop what a public service broadcaster should do and carry on with things ITV/C5 already provide?” he gasped, the clear corollary being that this was A Very Bad Thing Indeed. So bad, in fact, that, as he told, “These figures need updating but the BBC is monopolistic in TV, radio and online news”. Clearly, not knowing the difference between “A large market share” and “monopoly” is not a bar to Times punditry.
It also helps not to mention that Sky has a significantly bigger budget than the BBC. What it does help to mention is “Reports of the BBC being overstaffed have not been exaggerated”, where Monty fails to understand that registering for a conference does not have a one on one relationship with actually attending it. He provides no evidence that the Corporation is overstaffed. But his loyalty to Murdoch is unimpeachable.