I have made no secret of the fact that I am a massive fan of the BBC. Many people who are perhaps happy with ITV Play or Sky One argue that the market can produce the same quality of TV that the BBC offers, although that is patently not the case from the several hundred channels on Sky Digital, and that the license fee should be abolished. Again, I disagree. However, I do think the BBC is bloated, duplicates its effort too much and needs to become much more streamlined. So it is in this context that I think the announcement of 1800 job losses is required, despite the inevitable hardship this will cause.
ITV News pointed out earlier today that for the launch of Chris Huhne's Lib Dem leadership campaign the BBC sent four different camera crews (presumably one from BBC South, one from BBC News, one from News 24 and another from Newsnight) and also three different correspondents for TV alone. This does not count the inevitable radio reporters from Five Live, Radio One Newsbeat, Radio Four, BBC Radio Hampshire, and however many others I have missed. When you realise that Sky News sent one camera and ITV News One Camera, you start to see just why the BBC spends so much money.
It is a great shame that money is to be cut from the new programming department of the BBC, which might cause an increase in repeats and give succour to those people who want to axe the license fee. But I do feel the BBC has to me much more careful in the way it spends its money. One example for me recently was when BBC Radio Five asked me for an interview about Tesco, the problems I had faced with them when they wanted to build a store in my council ward and my concerns about them sponsoring an event at the Lib Dem conference, the BBC offered to pay for a taxi to the studio and back in order for me to speak to them for five minutes. I personally considered this an extravagance.
Then there is BBC sport. Do they need a reporter at every Championship football match when the local BBC regional news station have a reporter there ? Couldn't this reporter double up ?
So sad as the job losses are for the people concerned, the BBC is doing the right thing. If they want to retain the license they must show they are spending it wisely.
Whilst Bectu, the broadcasting union, might object, a strike would serve nobody's interests, and the only real loser would be UKTV Gold, because the BBC will just show old repeats of Only Fools and Horses and Men Behaving Badly robbing UKTV Gold of viewers.