The BBC Strike

I do not regularly listen to the Today programme

I never watch Newsnight

the whole lot of them could go on strike between now and Christmas, and I wouldn’t consider myself in any way starved of information

I have a terrible confession to make.  I have to own up to a cultural shortcoming that will scandalise many high-minded readers of this paper.  It is even more lamentable than my habit of falling asleep during the theatre or my failure to finish reading War and Peace (I got to page 1,216 and then lost my copy, just as it was hotting up).  The dreadful truth is that I do not regularly listen to the Today programme.

Actually, it is worse than that.  I only listen to the Today programme when I am trapped in a car and have no control over the radio, and so am unable to switch to LBC or some other station.  And the reason I do not listen to Today is that it simply used to drive me mad.  I would find myself lying there getting more and more worked up until suddenly my hand would lash out as if by its own volition and – crash – there would be another disabled clock-radio.

Although I have a vague sense sometimes that the whole of the rest of Britain is listening to this morning ritual, and that I am the only boy who is not in chapel to hear the sermon, my mornings are none the worse without it, and if anything a little calmer.  And in the evening I am afraid I have an even more shameful secret.  I never watch Newsnight.

There.  I have said it.  I used to watch Newsnight, when I was a Brussels correspondent and the show was effectively on an hour earlier;  and I have the highest regard for Jeremy Paxman and the whole lot of them (just as I have a high regard for the Today lot, too, come to that – when they are not being so infuriating).  It’s just that I have found it remarkably easy to rub along without either of these flagship shows.

And it gets worse.  It is not only ages since I have sat down and turned on the television with the express intention of watching Newsnight – I no longer feel any particular need to watch the BBC News, either!

OK, I may catch a glimpse of Riz Latif and the BBC London team if I happen to be floating about in the outer office in City Hall, but I can’t think when I last looked at my watch and said to myself, golly, I must catch the news at ten o’clock, so that I can go to bed knowing what is going on in the world.

And that is why the whole BBC strike completely passed me by.  As far as I am concerned, the whole lot of them could go on strike between now and Christmas, and I wouldn’t consider myself in any way starved of information.

Bruce Forsyth could present Newsnight and they could bring back Basil Brush to present the Today programme, and it wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference to my state of knowledge about the world.  And that is because over the past five years I have completely changed the way I consume news.

There was a time when I would look shamefacedly at the entrails of the broken clock-radio, and buy a new one, because listening to Today might have been irritating, but it was the best and fastest way of picking up on what everyone was talking about that morning.  There was a time when I would put the matchsticks in the eyelids and watch Newsnight, because if there was some great crisis breaking at Westminster, it was the critical arena in which the relevant minister would be expected to defend himself before the mighty Paxo.

And I am sure there will be many people for whom these BBC programmes still fulfil that function very well.  But I have found a different solution, and I am getting ever nimbler at making it work.

I consume vast quantities of news – but almost entirely without the assistance of the BBC.  I get up early and read a fair quantity of newsprint, notably [The Daily Telegraph] and the FT.  But if I then switch on my computer and go to Google News, I can see what everyone is reading across the planet.

I can watch stories break in real time.  If there is some crucial or hilarious piece of footage, then you will almost certainly be able to find it in a couple of clicks either on The Daily Telegraph website or somewhere else.

You can see the news as it is being reported in India, in China, in Canada and above all in America – still the most powerful country on the planet.  You can decide what you want to watch, which avenues of inquiry you want to pursue.

You don’t have to wait and fume for a quarter of an hour while some egotistical journalist tries to skewer some temporising politician.  You don’t have to worry about the bias of programme editors, because the sheer multiplicity of sources enables you to shake out the bias and work out what is really going on.  You can find it all out in your own time, and it usually takes about five minutes.

And if Paxman or Humphrys manages to shred someone so badly – or perhaps even to get so badly shredded in their turn – that it is worth reporting, then you will almost certainly find a trace of it somewhere.

I don’t say all this as some kind of Beeb-basher.  It is a great national institution, and at its best the BBC sets the highest standards for programmes of all kinds.  Many of my happiest hours have been spent making BBC programmes of one sort or another.

But any watcher of Downton Abbey can see that you don’t need taxpayers’ money to produce a classy costume drama.  And I simply observe from my own radically different news-absorbing habits that BBC news and current affairs no longer seem to occupy an automatically pivotal role in the life of the nation – and the strikers are therefore at risk of exposing the nudity of the emperor.

They could have Graham Norton reading the news and they could replace Paxman with Fern Britton, and I am afraid it would be months before I even noticed.

17 thoughts on “The BBC Strike”

  1. Boris: You don’t need taxpayers’ money to produce a classy costume drama.

    Very true indeed. And why does the BBC need to stage the Lottery ( owned by private American company Camelot ) for free? Just imagine how much money Camelot would have to pay to have their lottery draws shown on ITV and how much income tax the government would receive from ITV.

    In Japan, there is a big, state owned BBC-like TV station which is free to watch and relies on generous donations from the public. Those who don’t watch it donate or never donate. Which is fair. In return, this TV station is very careful on its spendings.

    The BBC should start a Pay As You Watch scheme like Sky does. The BBC has the budget and technology to set up this scheme but doesn’t want to do it purely for fear of having a smaller income which would not be enough to pay its top dogs ridiculously sky-high salaries.

  2. “… [at] Google News I can see what everyone is reading across the planet. … You don’t have to worry about the bias of programme editors, because the sheer multiplicity of sources enables you to shake out the bias and work out what is really going on.”  [my emphasis]

    Well, I suppose that might explain why Boris is still going along with the anthropogenic-global-warming fraud :  since all the mainstream media are following the line dictated by the I.P.C.C. and the body politic — and only the mainstream media are represented on the Google News site — he remains oblivious to the truth.


  3. Well, there’s a turn up, a Tory knocking the BBC. Yes, I too prefer the Torygraph and the FT – they let me know what the corrupt tyrant who employed my great great grandfather was thinking. A valuable insight into 19th century politics.
    What you don’t seem to grasp, Bozza old pomegranate, is that “independent” thought will seldom agree with the owners of the rest of the mass media. “Independent” thought will not be the lickspittle, subservient mouthpiece of the property owners and bankers. As soon as the BBC starts charging for its services and adopts the Sky model then they too will be just another biased voice of the media moguls. I am sure it will happen under this Tory regime, they have been trying to do it for years. And all under the name of freedom. Makes me puke.

  4. But, Vicus love, right now the BBC has been infiltrated and run by communist influenced left-wing militants/ socialists.

    The BBC is no longer an unbiased TV station which it is supposed to be by law, as it is funded with public money. Why should we continue funding it?

    Force the BBC to charge for its services and adopt the Sky model and let lefties like you pay for its services. I’m not a leftie, why am I being forced to pay the left-wing biased BBC for its upkeep so lefties like you can watch its left-wing biased services? Alreet love?

    I blame the BBC for creating those egomaniacs like Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, Chris Evans, Chris Moyles etc… with their extraordinary pay packages.

    These egomaniacs now believe they are untouchable and irreplaceable. They have turned into foul mouthed wallies, competing with each other to see which of them are the hippest ( by swearing and mental behaviour ), swaggering around believing they are Gods. Bad examples to kids.

    Top Gear’s Stig used to behave like that. Not any more since he was unmasked and sacked by the BBC. We now can see Stig is only an ordinary man looking for work.

    Richard and Judy were just the same; egomaniacs – they are now looking for work like everybody else.

    If the BBC didn’t pay these egomaniacs that much or did not employ them, ITV wouldn’t pay them that much. Who cares if the BBC doesn’t employ them, if we can watch them for free on ITV?

  5. Well, i am sure that at one point i did like the bbc…..

    Now it seems that the lack of adverts just isn’t enough for me to watch the bbc anymore.

    I rarely watch television at all now days. I must admit Boris is very right in what he has said…

    Google news and other sites such as yahoo etc have a whole host of news on offer to you. What is more, we are not made to pay for this. If you do not have broadband at home, you can use your computer in the local library for free.

    The television license is most definetly not worth the money.

    Perhaps if the bbc put a few adverts in here and there, they may be able to show some good programs for a change?
    I am sure i wouldn’t mind three minutes inbetween programming if i was getting to watch something decent!

  6. We all know the BBC top dogs knowingly surround themselves with those militant lefties to safeguard their too-good-to-be-true jobs. And in return the BBC top dogs knowingly let these militants have a stronghold on the BBC.

    We’re sure if the BBC were right-wing biased, our lefties would demand for an end to the TV licence.

    Oh do you still remember Carol Vorderman- our math child prodigy, folks? Another example of celebrity egomaniacs who have let money and fame go to their heads.

    When early this year Channel 4 decided to cut her annual salary by… 90% ( Bloody hell. And who can blame her? ) from £1million a year to £100,000 a year, she exploded and quit her job straight way. She reckoned nobody else could do maths as fast as she did. Of course there are always some folks out there who can. Anyway, she is now looking for work like anybody else ( between you and me, she might have to do another fire-safety training video for the time being ).

    These celebrity egomaniacs need to know jobs are scarce, salaries should be reasonable and that if you don’t behave, you will be sacked like anybody else in real life.

    You know, I used to admire our Carol’s quick brain on maths until one day my Cyril told me: “No, love. You don’t have to use all the numbers they give you to work out the correct answer love.” And I was, like, : ” Bloody hell.”

  7. @Edna:

    Oh come on, dont be so mean on Carol. She was after all, the only one to stick up for boris on question time.

    I will always like her for that.

    (On the topic of of being overpaid though… well yes she did earn a bit much.)

  8. Shows like ‘Today’ and ‘Newsnight’ are indeed of little value, partly because of the Beeb’s very narrow-minded view of the world but also because a gladiatorial contest between an interviewer and a politician is of use only in determining who is the slicker debater. Older readers may be reminded of Monty Python’s boxing match between the two candidates for the Chair of Medieval Poetry (or some such) at Oxford.

    Everything that the BBC produces is homogenised into Beeb. Whatever talent or enthusiasm goes in, out comes a slurry of Beeb – the same slant, the same dodgy production values, the same annoying idents. You know what the BBC will think on any topic without the trouble of listening or watching.

  9. I remember an advertising campaign run for the BBC news services on the radio. It ended with some worthy of the day, Faulkes, or Redhead, or one of that crowd, saying, “…to get the news that I need, I go to the BBC”

    Which led me to think, what is news? There are all kinds of events every day, only some of which the BBC decide qualify as news. (A questionable number of these events concern the BBC.) And there does seems to be a direct correalation between the importance of the story, ie the length and piority of the report, and the exotic grooviness of the location.
    But then, who wants to report on local authority spending cuts from Huddersfield when one can report on the achievements of Hugo Chavez’ groovy government in groovy Venezuala?
    And of course, the people in Huddersfield pay the licence tax, and the dudes in Venezuala are…groovy! Exotic!
    So who needs all this news? The BBC, that’s who!

  10. Carol supports Boris? Oh I didn’t know that. I do apologise to Carol, I’m so sorry.

    You see, we only need a mutual understanding then we can see someone in a different light. Now I can see Carol’s arse looks very elegant while Cherie’s looks like a Tesco carrier bag filled with lumpy rice pudding.

    Oh you still remember Paul Daniels our magician child-prodigy, folks? Another example of celebrity egomaniacs. At the height ( excuse the pun ) of his fame, he was acting like a little Hitler. He ridiculed an up and coming transvestite magician called Faith, leading to a TV channel canceled signing her up. Mr Daniels is now looking for work like anybody else.

    ( Please don’t tell me Paul Daniels supports Boris, too. Because this time I wouldn’t be able to say he’s as tall as Ronnie Corbett. I know I can’t say that. )

  11. Ha – excellent!

    I feel proud to be able to ‘out’ myself as finding opera tedious beyond measure and Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ childish and awful.

    I live in NZ where we get little of the BBC (and are grateful for what we do get as the local stuff is appallingly bad) but I do agree entirely that the Beeb are way too full of themselves.

  12. Did you know that jordan has been tipped as the new editor on the today program and has been asked by the bbc to guest edit an edition of the radio 4 news programme?

    No wonder the bbc has gone tits up …. 😮

Comments are closed.