Does someone earning £1.2 million a year from the license fee have the right to lecture the BBC about costs ?

Jeremy Paxman went on something of a rant yesterday in Edinburgh, criticising the BBC for it's interactivity and the tightening of budgets on Newsnight.

I note he criticised the license fee and asked "why doesn't the government tax washing machines and give money to Persil ?" As stupid an analogy as he could possibly have made up. Firstly, TV could be argued to be a luxury whilst the washing of clothes is not. Whilst producing a packet of Persil costs significantly less than producing a TV programme, which he ought to know as it leads on to his second major rant.

He criticised the cost cutting at the BBC and he made particular reference to cuts on Newsnight. I might have taken what he says seriously if it were not for the fact that he earns £1.2 million a year from the BBC. Should his concern for the standards at Newsnight be of such grave concern, I am sure he will take a paycut.


jailhouselawyer said...

Gizza job, I can do that, and hell of a lot cheaper. As a sweetner, I'll even buy a TV Licence...

Andy Mayer said...

Hang-on Nich, are you saying that a poll-tax on a piece of furniture in an age of multi-channel television is rational so long as it's not a necessity?

Should we perhaps tax magazine-racks to pay for the Guardian?

Maybe toasters to subsidise pop-tarts and personal grills for Findus crispy pancakes.

Our party has, as a principle opposition to regressive taxation that disproportionately impacts the poor... except the TV licence fee... it's an anarchronism

On his salary, doesn't that rather highlight the problem with treating every aspect of the BBC's activities as a public service deserving a special tax?

Norfolk Blogger said...

I maintain that the analogy Paxman gave was stupid beyond belief. I think saying a newspaper equates to the same cost of producing 7 channels, 7 radio stations and local stations and www.bbc.co.uk is also an unfair comparison.

I think that when/if the BBC license fee goes, people will regret it forever and a day.

to say that ITV is Free is a joke. We pay for the adverts in the price of goods. Also, the reason why TV quality is dropping is because all the revenue now has to be spread further. if the BBC became a commercial TV station it would be spread further still.

Tristan said...

Paxman has the right to say what he likes.

Also, the TV Licence is a poll tax, we should not be forced to pay it to watch a television.

As for costs going up due to advertising - This is not only a tiny amount per product, its also beneficial to us as it gives us information.

The license fee is an anachronism. The BBC needn't do all it does anyway, and if people really like it, then let them choose to pay for it.

Tristan said...

Oh, and the guaranteed income from the license which the BBC gets encourages wasteful spending of money and complacency (which we see in the program making too)

Norfolk Blogger said...

The guaranteed income the BBC has allows it also to fund long term projects and technological advances that are unseen anywhere else in Europe. Note HD take up. All BBC programmes are now made in HD ready for Freeview to have an HD channel. The only way this won;t happen is if Ofcom sell off that part of the spectrum in order to acheive maximum profit.

The free market is not always good or the best.

The take up in podcasting, Digital Radio and Digital TV (note Free to air) are things that in great part we have to thank the BBC for.

If it were not for out license fee we would all ahve to be paying Rupert Murdoch much much more for out TV. it always amazes me that so many "liberals" would so like to see Murdoch's pockets lined so well.

Joe Otten said...

Of course Paxo has the right to lecture them. He and I have the right to lecture anybody on anything.

Oh, and at what level of salary does it become wrong for people to oppose cost cutting?

Come on Nich, Paxo is not the only one ranting by the look if it.

Norfolk Blogger said...

he is moanign about the cost cutting on newsnight but it appears the biggest single one-off cost on the show is his salary. he is paid £800,000 from newsnight, for what appears to be three days work a week. He earns premiership footballer wages, or nearly £8,000 a show !

It seems that cost cutting is a concern for him, but not it appears cutting out the biggest single cost. Why not get rid of Paxman, save £800k a year and spend this on producing the show to a higher standard ?

Andy Mayer said...

O.k. Nich... there's a lot of confused points here...

1) there's nothing special about the licence fee as a form of funding, other than it is regressive. If you believed sincerely that the BBC is a special public good and thus in need of public funding, it could just as well be funded out of general taxation as this anti-poor levy.

2) The BBC's independence does not depend on the funding mechanism, it depends on the governance structure, much like the Central Bank. Our party believes that structure should be reformed.

3) Commercial is free to users and you are not obliged to buy any of the goods of the firms that advertise on it... other than those provided by government, and it is clear that the presence of advertising does not reduce audience figures in an significant way compared to free alternatives.

As a method of funding most TV content such as sport, light entertainment, movies etc. advertising has ensured the proliferation of access to a wider variety of quality and choice to the general public than was ever possible under the BBC alone. Further if advertising is a sticking point, why not make 'no-ads' a condition of public service broadcast.

If ITV for example competed with the BBC for the provision of educational programming, any such programmes on ITV channels could be advert free. Similarly if the BBC were more honestly managed according to public service principles, then programming with no public service value at all like the vast bulk of the light entertaiment output could and should be paid for by advertising.

4) It is evidently not correct to suggest that any change of public service regime means the end of the BBC, PSB or ad-free TV. What's lacking from our party policy is any assessment of what PSB actually is and how you make it stronger. Instead we're swallowing the notion that the PSB and BBC are one in the same, which I'm afraid is exactly what leads to the footballers salaires at the expense of the public purse you don't like much.

In short it's perfectly possible to have a robust, public service broadcasting regime that encourages diversity of provision, quality, technological progress and other goods.

If though you start that debate by saying all these things are valuable, but can only be provided by the BBC as a single institution and only funded by the licence fee I really do worry. That's an accurate reflection of the current state of our media policy but not compatible with the party's general principles on public service provision or tax.

Unprincipled incoherence is not a friend to our party in my view.

Norfolk Blogger said...

If you are suggsting I am unprincipled and incoherent, then I have to disagree with you.

You make some god points, but I maintain my view that should we get rid of th elicense fee and force the BBC to take ads, then funding will fall, for the BBC, but also for ITV meaning a decline in the standard of TV. has haveing 200+ Sky Channels made TV any better ?

All it means it that we are more American TV (it's been very good for the US) and the only decent TV you can get outside of the main channels are repeats of BBC programms on UKTV.