Posts tagged ‘BBC’

Funding Auntie

Following on from Sunday’s leak/pre-announcement, yesterday saw the actual announcement of a host of changes to the licence fee.

In summary:

  • The licence fee will survive for at least another 5 years
  • The cost of the licence fee will rise by inflation, ending 7 years of price freezes
  • The government intends to alter the scope of the TV licence to include catch-up services
  • The BBC is take over the cost of subsiding free TV licences for those 75 and over

I’m not, you probably won’t be surprised to hear, a fan of the licence fee, considering it to be nothing more than a tax on watching live television. I’d much rather see the BBC funded though one or more of advertising, subscription or micro-payments.

For myself, I’ve not paid the tax since the analogue signal was switched off in my area in 2012. Having a (now) rather ancient, in technological terms, CRT set and no way to pick up the digit signal via it, I made the decision to stop watching and save myself £145.50 a year.

Like many I am though known to watch programmes via catch-up, an entirely legal (at present) approach which was last week blamed by Auntie for costing it £150m and 1,000 jobs. As if it has a right to that money.

If the government does go ahead and remove this ‘loophole’, I shall either stop watching anything on iPlayer altogether or use a VPN on the odd occasion when I do want to watch something. Either way, the BBC won’t be getting a penny out of me (directly at any rate) unless I buy some of its shows on DVD.

The sneaky, and perhaps downright nasty, move though is lumbering the BBC with the costs of subsiding the licence fee for those 75 and over. Previously this ‘freebie’, introduced by Gordon Brown in 2001, has been borne by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and is estimated to currently cost the taxpayer £631m.

Sneaky because it gets it off the government books and means that the BBC has to swallow the cost yet nasty because it is not the choice of the BBC to provide this subsidy and there is no way for them to withdraw it without finding themselves getting it in the neck from a lot of people and organisations.

If the government (rightly or wrongly) wishes to subsidise something it should pick up the tab itself (with taxpayer money) rather than pass the cost of doing so on to another party which has no power to end it.

A benefits sob story

As the Welfare Reform Bill returned to the Commons, the BBC decided to take up arms against the proposed benefit cap on behalf of one family (comprising two parents and six children) who would be affected if they were limited to £26,000/annum.

That family’s income is helpfully laid out in the graphic below:

How one family on benefits spends £582.40 a week (or £30,284.80 a year)

Looking at their outgoings the first thing that struck me was the amount being spent (per week remember) on alcohol, tobacco and Sky TV. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against smoking, drinking and watching TV but I am not in favour of (involuntarily) paying for others to do so.

Assuming that the family visit the ubiquitous Tesco for their shopping, that the prices online match those in store and they are buying in bulk then we can estimate the alcohol and tobacco expenditure as such:

Alcohol: Between £18 and £24
Cigarettes: Between £60 and £70
Tobacco: £12+

You can probably do better if you shop around a bit but even at the lower end the estimate for alcohol and tobacco expenditure is £90+, rising to over £100 depending on personal preferences.

Add in £15 for Sky TV and that’s at least £105, which is well above the £82.40 the BBC reckons they would lose under the benefit cap.

The second thing that struck me about this sob story was the what the father does (or rather doesn’t) do for a living:

Raymond, a former educational software writer, has been jobless since 2001. His wife Katherine suffers from bipolar disorder with an anxiety disorder and is also unable to work.

Says Ray: “The market for my skills dried up ten years ago – there’s a total lack of work in my area of expertise.”

Seriously? Your skill-set has been obsolete for 10 years and you never even thought at retraining yourself into another area? Even with the dot com crash, it isn’t as if there has been a shortage of IT jobs (I assume that an ‘educational software writer’ has some programming skills) in the last decade.

And as if that wasn’t enough, my eyebrows almost shot through the ceiling when I realised that dear old unemployed Raymond and his disabled wife, already having six children between them from previous marriages, also have a 5 year old son as a result of their union.

No cutting your coat according to your cloth for these two. Oh no, the poor bloody taxpayer all the way it seems…

The father reckons that, as a result of the cap, I see eight people here having to choose between eating or heating.

I reckon he needs to pull the other leg, the one with bells on it…

A WTF BBC moment

From the BBC obituary* of the Brazilian footballer Socrates:

His heroes included famous libertarians Fidel Castro and Che Guevara…

H/T @PWilliamsUKIP

Update: In typical BBC fashion the article has been stealth edited and no longer includes the words ‘famous libertarians’.

Update 2: For the sake of posterity, the Boiling Frog has a screen grab of the offending paragraph.

* From the version published @ 10:35 GMT, Sunday, 4 December 2011

Filmmaking in Iran

Marzieh Vafamehr, an Iranian actress, was arrested in June and sentenced by a court on the 8th October to spend a year in prison and be lashed 90 times.

Vafamehr starred in the 2009 film ‘My Tehran for Sale‘, the plot of which is given on the IMDb as:

Marzieh is a young female actress living in Tehran. The authorities ban her theatre work and, like all young people in Iran, she is forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically. At an underground rave, she meets Iranian born Saman, now an Australian citizen, who offers her a way out of her country and the possibility of living without fear.

What exactly her crimes were seems to be disputed, which perhaps reflects the limited information available but apparently they include breaches of Shari’a law and the nebulous concept of appearing in a film which casts Iran in a negative light.

The latter is deeply ironic considering the brief spurt of outrage that occurred when the world found out about the story but as I’ve noted before, the Iranian government manages to do irony quite well, although I doubt that it is ever deliberate.

Hers though is not the first arrest or conviction of a member of the Iranian film industry in recent years – merely the first one to catch the attention of much of the Western MSM. Call me cynical but that wouldn’t have anything to do with her being reasonably attractive, would it?

It appears that this crackdown on the film industry began after the disputed 2009 presidential election, won by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with those who supported rival candidates bearing the brunt of the government’s displeasure.

Two directors who attempted to make a documentary abount the unrest which followed the election, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, have been sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban, and a five-year prison term respectively for acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.

In September six other filmmakers – Hadi Afarideh, Shahnam Bazdar, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Naser Saffarian, Katayoun Shahabi and Mohsen Shahrnazdar – were arrested for providing the BBC with material deemed damaging to Iran. Two have since been released.