Monday, September 07, 2015


"The BBC is today responding to concerns about its own status by proposing to collaborate with local news providers... The Times has a direct interest in ensuring that the corporation does not exploit its position in order to crowd out rival services, but we are far from alone.  Local news providers are at particular risk of being squeezed out of business by the BBC's 58 local news websites.  
- Broadcast Behemoth, The Times, 7 September
I'm reminded here of an advert that I saw on TV in America, way back in the mid-2000s.  In it, a bunch of surprisingly tanned, attractive and healthy young people claimed to be cinema workers, and proceeded to list all the ways in which net-based movie piracy was taking food out of their mouths and clothes off their backs.

All very sad, I'm sure you'll agree, until you realised that this was America in 2004, not Jarrow in 1936.

Put bluntly, if it was the average American popcorn-juggler or ticket-puncher that was bearing the brunt of film piracy's depredations, there would've been no advert in the first place.

With that in mind, I'd advise that you receive the Times' pretence of giving a flying fuck about the plight of local newspeople in a similar manner.  It's maybe also worth recalling the treatment that the paper's owner has previously meted out to rivals and to employees, before coming to any solid conclusions.

Still though, there are some real howlers in here.  My particular favourite is the following:
"...It is against the ethos of an informed democracy that a single organisation should be entrusted with such a commanding market share (as the BBC enjoys)".  

Yes reader, I'm quite sure that you, like me, are somewhat less than receptive to lectures upon informed democratic accountability that emanate from the Murdoch camp, but let's just stop to marvel at the giant, nuclear-powered titanium testicles it takes a Times employee to come out with that kind of thing.

"As the chequered history of nationalised industries shows, corporations operating in a protected market have an inherent tendency to laziness and bureacracy.  The BBC... increasingly exhibits (in the phrase of George Osborne) imperial ambitions".  
Imperial ambitions!  Thank goodness we have plucky little underdogs like News Corp to fight our corner for us.

Mind you, I do know a fair bit about empires, and how they've behaved throughout history.  One thing that I recall is that whenever a local hegemon makes a series of increasingly unmeetable demands, and isn't satisfied by any number of concessions, he's probably getting ready to invade your territory, steal all your stuff and burn down all your farms and windmills.  

Anyway, I must dash - the football internationals are about to start on the radio. I used to pay a bloody fortune to watch them on Sky, but it broke down and stopped working so often that watching TV became a trial of endurance...  And whenever I asked Sky to repair it, they told me that it wasn't their problem, and that I should pay a private contractor to sort it out.

Fifteen years ago, the game would have been free to watch on what we then quaintly called "terrestrial TV", but I guess we've made progress since then, haven't we.

*In fairness, I suspect I'm remembering this from the computer game Rome: Total War rather than anything written by Gibbon, but the point still stands. 


Igor Belanov said...

Sky must have changed their attitude since I used to have it. Back then they would tell you that they would send a repair-man round in six weeks, then change that to under 24 hours once you announced that you would be cancelling your contract. Maybe they have too many subscribers these days....

dsquared said...

Local newspapers, as everyone knows, are fucked because the classified and local advertising market has disappeared thanks to Craigslist, gumtree and Rightmove. Since the bbc doesn't even carry adverts, they're literally not in the top three worries for local news.

Anonymous said...

Local newspapers are in decline right round the globe. Wood pulp mills in Canada are in difficulty because local newspapers are failing in the USA as they lose their advertising. There is no BBC in the USA.