Feeds

BBC: Death by a thousand top-slices

Share the dosh, says Culture Minister

Top three mobile application threats

BBC executives may be demanding emergency supplies of jelly as they digest the latest statement from the Culture Minister today. The corporation should share revenue raised by the TV license fee with other media companies, James Purnell said yesterday.

"The greatest unwitting enemies of public-service broadcasting are those who say we should leave it be. I'm afraid the world doesn't allow for that," Purnell told a conference in Oxford.

Purnell echoed Ofcom's call for the revenue to be shared, or "top-sliced" with other broadcasters. Channel 4 wants a slice, while ITV is keen to be free of its public service obligations.

(Not that Ofcom is a disinterested bystander. Under the leadership of Ed 'Milo Minderbender' Richards, Ofcom has tax and spend ambitions of its own, and shelters many staff who loathe the BBC with a passion: hence his irrational enthusiasm for the Nathan Barley quango concept, which potentially undermines the Beeb.)

The BBC's current arrangement comes to an end after 2012. A compulsory tax is levied on everyone who uses a TV set for receiving broadcasts: £135.50 per household for a colour TV or £45.50 for a black and white TV. This raises £3.4bn per year, enough to fund 27,000 staff - although the World Service is funded separately by the Foreign Office.

So it looks like the end of the unique, state-centric model for funding the BBC. An incoming Conservative administration is unlikely to be more sympathetic to the BBC, with its stifling bureucracy and monopoly control over a compulsory tax.

Rupert Murdoch's worst nightmare

Last year, Jeremy Paxman described working at the corporation as, "a bit like working in Stalin's Russia, with one five-year plan, one resoundingly empty slogan after another... they all blur into one great vacuous blur... Rather like Stalin's Russia, they express a belief that the system will go on forever."

"Why not tax people for owning a washing machine to fund the manufacturer of Persil?" he asked.

The future augurs a BBC burdened with public service obligations, but with a diminishing budget. Today, the Italian state RAI TV offers a glimpse of this future, where the broadcaster must deal with boring subjects but doesn't have the confidence or the purse to make boring material interesting. With its crisis of confidence, as Adam Curtis suggested last year, the BBC is already halfway there.

("I speak as the presenter of a programme which was obliged this spring to follow an hour devoted to celebrity dog-walking," Paxman added last year.)

And the only beneficiary of this is the BBC's commercial rivals, including News Corp. The irony is that it doesn't have to be this way, yet so many self-professed BBC admirers seem to be keen to hand the future of broadcasting to Rupert Murdoch on a silver platter.

Take this reaction to Luke Gibbs story (part of our BBC Week last November) - which described how the BBC could obliterate Sky.

A BBC that was free to capitalise on its assets as a global media company would not be outbid for sporting rights such as the Premier League, and soon there would be no reason to have a dish. Since Murdoch's TV revenues prop up his newspapers, the empire would be fatally exposed. Talk to Sky people, and this is the nightmare scenario.

"No footie, no dishes, no subscriptions," I pointed out.

A reader thought that destroying Murdoch would be terrible for the Beeb. Why keep him alive, I wondered?

"Better the Devil you know," came the reply.

So the people who profess to love Auntie Beeb the most will be the ones who help kill it. ®

You've got a story: send us your texts and emails to that was your BBC!

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.