Blather For Nothing And Your Chicks For Free

The BBC In The Dock: From The Tampa Tribune
Obviously I’m running out of new headlines.

Why in the world would Brits have a taxpayer-funded news station? Not being a Brit, I have a hard time trying to imagine it. Sure, we have PBS and NPR, but they are non-entities and receive very little money. Their presence is hardly felt.

The Beeb, however, has a huge market share and forces even those that disagree with it to fork over the licensing fee. After its coverage of Iraq, maybe they will now consider a much-needed privatization of the Beeb. After all, if its content were actually worth anything, certainly someone would be willing to pay for it either through ads or subscription.

The people of Britain and the way they do things have always had a peculiar fascination for Americans, which may be why London is the favorite European destination for U.S. tourists.

We tend to like and admire the Brits even when we don’t completely understand them. (Perhaps we would understand them better if they all enunciated the English language with the ring and snap of Tony Blair.)

But consider the British Broadcasting Corp., which is financed by a tax on television viewers but independent of the government that mandates the tax, or license fee, which is $180 a year and levied upon 20 million Britons. This sweet arrangement gives the BBC an annual income of $3.6 billion, and it doesn’t have to sell one screaming commercial to pay the bills.

Unfortunately for this venerable institution, once highly regarded for its down-the-middle news coverage, it has gradually become a propaganda outlet for peaceniks, neosocialists and various sorts of America haters. Its reports from Iraq, for instance, could hardly have displeased members of Saddam’s hierarchy when they were in a position to tune in.

Conrad Black, publisher of London’s Daily and Sunday Telegraph, described the BBC as “a virulent culture of bias. Though its best programming in nonpolitical areas is distinguished, sadly it has become the greatest menace facing the country it was founded to serve and inform.”

All of this has many in Britain extremely annoyed, including some who agree with the BBC’s slant. We must imagine them asking themselves – at last – why they should have to pay $180 a year to listen to biased commentary when competing networks, perhaps biased in a different way, offer their blather for nothing.

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