Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BBC apologises to The Freedom Association: some TV licence-payers are more equal than others

When comedian Alan Davies and his guest David Baddiel suggested on the BBC's Radio Five Live programme last December that the late Norris McWhirter CBE was a fascist, His Grace was irritated, to say the least. When they referred to The Freedom Association as being 'a slightly posher version of the BNP', he was very much angered.

So much so that he wrote an article, complained to the BBC and encouraged others to do the same (and they did). We all received the same dismissive cut'n'paste response, which was essentially a knee-jerk defence. We were all peremptorily informed: "The Alan Davies Show is a live, light hearted, entertainment programme and in this context we are satisfied that no broadcasting guidelines were broken." There was no allusion even to the possibility of an investigation into the matter.

But a complaint was also sent by John Whittingdale OBE MP, Robert Halfon MP and Julian Lewis MP, which has elicited a full apology.

And the BBC have finally admitted that they were in fact in breach of their editorial guidelines. The McWhirter family will be relieved and The Freedom Association is thoroughly vindicated.

Simon Richards, Director of TFA, said: "We are immensely grateful to all the MPs who complained to the BBC about the outrageous slur on the reputation of The Freedom Association and our founder, the late Norris McWhirter CBE. TFA campaigns for freedom of expression and for freedom of the individual. The BBC too often permits lazy and unfair attempts to tar respectable centre-right organisations with the BNP brush. We have struck a blow on behalf of all freedom-loving people who are fed up with being portrayed as fascists by a broadcasting organisation whose charter requires it to be impartial."

As far as His Grace is aware, MPs pay the same licence fee as us lesser beings. Will the BBC now be apologising to those of us whose complaints they summarily dismissed out of hand? Or are complaints from some TV licence-payers treated a little more seriously than others?


Anonymous jones said...

'Will the BBC now be apologising to those of us whose complaints they summarily dismissed out of hand? Or are complaints from some TV licence-payers treated a little more seriously than others?'

Nope and yup respectively.

21 June 2011 at 12:04  
Blogger pete said...

The BBC is a government funded broadcaster. That's why it apologised to the MPs. It doesn't want the licence free freezing for any longer than 6 years.

It doesn't care what the rest of us think. Why should it?

21 June 2011 at 12:13  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

the socialist bbc adhere to the old adage : never explain, never apologise. If all else fails, rubbish your opponents reputation. The organisation is a disgrace and should be privatised, so we don't have to fund it.

21 June 2011 at 12:15  
Blogger DaveR said...

What Pete said. It's actually accountable to the MPs because they actually have some power over it. Its left unaccountable to the rest of us.

The same principle can be easily seen in many other big organisations.

21 June 2011 at 12:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with John in Cheshire. The BBC should be scrapped rather than privatised. The people at its top table are clearly unwilling (and probably unable) to change their ways. I genuinely can't think of anything about that organisation that is indispensible. Anything about it that is worth broadcasting would be able to find a home at some other broadcaster.

21 June 2011 at 12:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

‘Or are complaints from some TV licence-payers treated a little more seriously than others?’

Yes, of course they are. The distinction is based on whether Mrs Miggins is a member of the political elite or not.

If she isn’t, then according to unofficial BBC doctrine, she is a member of that class once descrinved as: ‘The scum who read the Sun’.

I agree with Anon: put the BBC in the knacker's yard.

21 June 2011 at 12:50  
Anonymous Road_Hog said...

The easy solution is to stop paying the licence fee.

The BBC has not intention of being privatised or offering you an option whether you wanted to subscribe or not.

If they did, they would have encrypted the channels as they switched over to digital and then sold a monthly/yearly subscription through the digital system.

21 June 2011 at 13:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It hasn't got anything to do with funding.

A written question from an MP will be flagged up to the top of all organisations, even commercial ones.

They know that an MP can openly raise the issue in parliament without any legal redress on their part.

21 June 2011 at 13:08  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Road Hog said:

‘The easy solution is to stop paying the licence fee.’

You mean stop watching live broadcasts – and then cease to pay the licence fee.

21 June 2011 at 13:19  
Anonymous MrJ said...

The BBC "apology" remains in the "reports allege that" department until it has been published (with authenticating name and date) for all to see. Has it?

21 June 2011 at 13:40  
Anonymous The Justice of the Peace said...

T.V. Licensing is a law unto itself. BBC as an organisation is unable to divest itself of similar insularity. It is a subject which arouses much interest as my readers have commented.


21 June 2011 at 13:47  
Blogger English Viking said...

I hope someone burns the BBC down, with all the beeboids in it.

21 June 2011 at 13:54  
Blogger DP111 said...

The BBC would be quick to apologise if the complaint had come from the RoP, even if it was obviously light-hearted. Even if their was no complaint, the BBC would apologise and gift the potential complainant £30,000 or more.

English Viking wrote: I hope someone burns the BBC down, with all the beeboids in it.

There are some who would do it, and not just fire, and that strikes fear in the BBC.

21 June 2011 at 16:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

It won't be the first time someone who champions freedom is described as a fascist and the word Nazi thrown about in a cavalier fashion. *cough*

21 June 2011 at 17:35  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Maybe the Honourable Members made clear they were Roman Catholics!

21 June 2011 at 17:52  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The BBC Centre looked like the tower of babel befor the EU Palaiment did.

21 June 2011 at 18:04  
Blogger len said...

BBC, impartiality? those two words do no sit well together.

Tower of Babel is probably a very apt description BitB.

Babylon Broadcasting Company, I like it!

21 June 2011 at 20:16  
Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Your Grace,

I have been licence free for two years now. This has been due to the reason that quite simply the majority of programmes are filled with banality, celebrity and bias.

As someone that used to sit in front of the TV for 5 hours a night like some unfortunate GI Joe in a North Korean POW camp, I shudder at the sheer waste of precious life as I sat in silence, brain in neutral, sedated, malleable, suggestible.

I’ll quite happily watch a Blu ray DVD streamed on my home gigabit network to one of the various monitors and plasma TVs around the house or a YouTube snippet, but I will not be slaved to the broadcaster’s schedule of mediocrity.

Like Neo, I’ve unplugged and can see the horrors of the BBC’s unpalatable progressive liberal bias, their dumbed down news broadcast, their partiality oozing out of every pixel, and their sycophancy with their favoured media circus politicians making me want to projectile vomit. And don’t get me started on the commercial channels…

Quite simply one cancelled direct debit to Capita, the private corporation shell acting out as the bother boys for the BBC, a notice outside my door saying the following:

“The implied right of access has been withdrawn for the following companies:
The Capita Group PLC
TV Licencing
The British Broadcast Corporation”

and I was free.

The two Capita salesmen on commission that were dispatched to my premises scratched their heads, made a mobile call and I’ve not been bothered since. I have received the faux threatening automated letters saying I could be taken to court, I’m being investigated etc but on even the briefest read it is a cacophony of idle threats by a private corporation that has no right to write to you like that nor try and enter your premises, as the milkman or gasman has.

TV detector vans? Don’t exist – there have been no prosecutions on evidence from them. Their tactic in taking people to court are those unfortunates that open the door and sign the form to say that they are watching live broadcast.

As I say again: you are not legally obligated to answer the door to them, and anyway, one implied right of access denied notice will ensure they never set foot on your property, thus stopping their only route to try and take you to court.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if we expect by stamping our feet and raising our voices that the Coalition will neuter the nest of vipers that is the BBC, then please think again. It will never happen as it will be political suicide for them.

So do as New Zealand did – simply one at a time, cancel your direct debits, and once it becomes too expensive to collect the telly tax, this anachronistic nonsense will disappear overnight and good riddance to the BBC. Media as we know it is changing: the licence fee is a thing of the past when TVs use to hum like a fridge full of bumblebees. It’s so easy when you know how many others, like myself, have done it.

I’ll quite happily pay the market rate for good quality programmes I choose to watch on my own time – I will not be coerced on the false threat of jail to pay for everything from Strictly Come Lap Dancing to that hideous monstrosity that is Question Time, neither programmes I watch.

21 June 2011 at 20:18  
Anonymous Veracity said...

Beware of Geeks, You are so right but I still have a sense of despair and not alleviated by the presence of Bully Boy Patten . So true that it is not what you knpw but who you know that matters

21 June 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs

So am I subsidising your free viewing of programmes you decide you do want to watch?

Let's not forget amidst the rubbish are some excellent programmes too. Do we really want to reduce viewing to pleasing the mass market and making the biggest buck?

21 June 2011 at 23:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The attacks by the ConDem regime on the pay and conditions of workers and their families must be resisted at all levels. That means everything from supporting strikes to organising local campaigns against closures of community services like libraries, schools and hospitals."

".... activists must get behind these actions to defend the standard of living and quality of life for our people. We will not be forced to pay for the mistakes of the politicians and bankers. Agitate, educate and organise!"

Statements from the loonie left? Maybe the Socialist Workers Party? Milliband, Skinner, perhaps Livingstone?

No, this is todays output from the BNP. So can you and all the other bloggers finally nail the leftie myth – they are not right-wing fascists, the BNP are a socialist party that believe in nationalisation, import barriers and centralised State control.

Davies and Baddiel share the same basic beliefs as the BNP. Thats why Labour and the left hate them – they're all after the same vote.

So, how long before the penny drops and we see Griffin and Darby welcomed onto the BBC with all the other left-wing slime Dumbledore, Humphries and their fellow hypocrites love so dearly?

21 June 2011 at 23:28  
Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Dear Mr Dodo,

You can rest your flightless wings, sir: I no longer watch live broadcasts, despite the availability of iPlayer and the technological inability of Capita to determine whether I am actually watching live TV through that or not. Ergo, your £145.50 is inherently and morally safe with the Wood Lane entertainers and clowns.

Moi? I went on a nice holiday in France with that money. And bought a DVD.

The argument that if we remove the BBC then we will no longer be subjected to hi-brow broadcasts was rapidly destroyed by the emergence of Strictly Come Lap Dancing, Noel’s House Party and that pink, obese imbecile Mr Blobby (whom I’m convinced was spawned from the same petri dish as Derek Draper), Fat Men Can’t Hunt, Celebrity Scissorhands and Newsnight.

If that’s what £145.50 in real money can buy, then I’m Mr Blobby’s love sex doll.

21 June 2011 at 23:57  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Fair enough Mr Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs. Good to know you're an honest man.

Blobby hasn't been on for years!! I do agree about the programmes you cite.

However, on the upside Wimbledon is on over this next fortnight. I was furious when the BBC lost the Test Matches (for want of funds due to an inability to compete with Sky).

'High brow'? Maybe the odd 'Last Night of the Proms'! I enjoy good drama and the BBC excells in this. I also thought their coverage of the Royal Wedding was excellent as are all the other great occassions of State.

I prefer paying £145 per year to the BBC than near £600 per year to Sky too!

Each to his own.

22 June 2011 at 00:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always liked Mr McWhirter when he was on Record Breakers as a kid. And I was very sad when his brother was murdered by Irish Republicans.

And yet the BBC want to assassinate Mr McWhirter memory.

Why should we pay the TV Licence, when the BBC will assassinate their own when they are out of fashion.

Maybe that's why they are in favour

22 June 2011 at 00:15  
Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Well, thank you for acknowledging my honesty Mr Dodo, and while I agree that the BBC does commission some good programmes, we know that the elephant in the room is the fact that in the media savvy 21st century Britain, everyone can watch live broadcast via any device, whether it is an Android, iPhone, PC, laptop and of course the conventional TV without any fear of being detected and prosecuted. Requirement of the TV Licence is simply unenforceable, despite the Capita rhetoric.

I think it’s rather odd that in today’s market, one can pay £600 to watch Sky content and yet have to fork out another £145 to give to the BBC when you don’t watch that content, under the old pretence that it’s a licence for live broadcast, when in actual fact, it is and always was a subsidy to the BBC. Why not simply make the BBC reliant on subscriber fees like the rest of the world’s media?

We all know now it is only the large database, LASSY, that cross references non-licenced addresses with TV purchases and the automation of threatening letters that is the cheapest of models for Capita. And to be honest, without the armoury of knowledge of such legal simplicities, on receipt of a threatening, albeit totally unenforceable, letter from TV Licensing, we are frightened into submission as a perfect example of our compliance to anything resembling authority.

But today, today is the Age of Information, where we share ideas and ideals, it’s a two way process rather than the old 20th century model of one way flow of selective viewpoints. It’s changing our perception of things.

It’s allowing many people to finally stop paying the telly tax and helping shape the new paradigm of media and our interaction with it.

22 June 2011 at 01:08  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Interesting points Mr Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs - will you consider getting your license when you're older and its free?

I actually don't mind paying the fee too much even though I agree it is somewhat anacronistic today and the governance of the BBC leaves a lot to be desired.

We pay taxes for many, many things I object to and I expect much greater oversight from (far fewer and less corrupt) MPs.

22 June 2011 at 01:46  
Blogger len said...

Definitely not a 'level playing field' where the BBC are concerned.
As a public funded company the BBC should be accountable to ALL those who finance it.
Perhaps the BBC should send us all questionnaires asking us to contribute to programme content and giving opinions on their performance?
Licence fee payers should be able to select directors and remove them if necessary.

22 June 2011 at 08:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Pete is very wrong. The BBC is not "a government-funded broadcaster". In fact the two areas of DIRECT Government payment to the BBC - for the BBC World Service (from FCO) and for >75s Free TV Licence (from DWP) - both these items were transferred to Licence Payers in 2010.

Further, the Switch-Off this year of Analogue Broadcasting so the Treasury can auction the frequencies to Mobile Phone Companies, and the costs of going digital, are also borne by TV Licence Payers.

No wonder there is no money for programmes.

The TV Licence is pork-barrel politics; a Tax as defined by ONS yet without any justification; and only criminalised in 1949.

Simply because Winston Churchill an Stanley Baldwin decided to nationalise the British Broadcasting Company in 1926 and close down its regional units, does not justify a taxpayer-owned broadcaster.

But watch out. Germany is moving to a household tax irrespective of whether you own a TV. The Eu seems unconcerned about State aid to Broadcasters, giving some to the BBC itself.

If you want rid of the licence fee make sure you don't get it living on your taxes like the Banks

22 June 2011 at 08:51  
Anonymous greg tingey said...

Be like me, and don't pay a licence fee!

Meantime, stop knocking the BBC - given who they've managed to get in their Reith lectures this year:
Ms Su Chi .....

Now there's REAL freedom, not the grubby union-bashing right-wing nasties of the so-called "freedom association"
Which means freedom for the rich - no they are not fascists, they are would-be oligarchs

22 June 2011 at 09:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

What a far cry the BBC is today from its original vision:

'Broadcasting House was opened in 1932 by the Judaeo-Christian Sir John Reith, he unveiled a plaque on which the following words were inscribed:

'This Temple of the Arts and Muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors of Broadcasting in the year 1931, Sir John Reith being Director-General. It is their prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace and purity may be banished from this house, and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.'

Archbishop Cranmer's blog, 7 February 2010

22 June 2011 at 09:06  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The letter to the Philippians Ch. 4 v. 8

22 June 2011 at 09:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former lifelong Tory voter and minority patriot I would consider it a great honour to be “tarred with the BNP brush”.

22 June 2011 at 09:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and feathered.

22 June 2011 at 10:08  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

YG,your last sentence should have been a statement really not a question because the answer is obvious. Very similar to how the law works as well. Always has been, always will be.

22 June 2011 at 17:25  
Blogger AndrewSouthLondon said...

pete said...
The BBC is a government funded broadcaster.

No it isn't Pete. The government has no money except what it takes from us (apart from what it borrows, in which case we pay the interest)

The BBC is a license fee payer funded service. At the point of a gun.

24 June 2011 at 20:35  
Blogger Phil Taylor said...

What AndrewSouthLondon says is very true, and I am wondering if it is actually something that the monopoly and mergers commission should look into. After all, the BBC are the sole beneficiaries of a charge that everyone who owns a tv hass to pay, irrespective of if they use the BBC service or not.

Whilst I have no problem with them being the sole beneficiary, I do have an issue with the fact that in order to play on a games console I must buy a TV licence as I need to use the TV to play games.

If the BBC were to switch their service to a similar one to Sky, i.e. some sort of card in a box so that without the card the BBC signal would not be usable, I would be much happier about things. That way, if the BBC either don't deliver anything worth watching or don't deliver good service then I can give a threat of stopping payment that might actually be viable for me to carry out.

As things stand at the moment, the BBC, through the government, are able to hold the entire country to ransom with the public not having a single way to "stick it" to them if they do not like the service they are given. Sadly I doubt they will change, but you'd think that it would be something at least worth discussing in parliament!

26 June 2011 at 19:28  
Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...


That's not actually true, although this is the problem, many people think it is.

From TV Licensing:-

"If you use or install television equipment to receive or record television programmes as they are being broadcast, you need to be covered by a valid TV Licence.

However, you don’t need to be covered by a licence if you’re only using ‘on-demand’ services to watch programmes after they have been shown on TV. So, you need a licence to watch any channel live online, but you wouldn’t need one to use BBC iPlayer to catch up on an episode of a programme you missed, for example."

So if you're using a TV purely as a display for your games console, you do not need a TV licence. The site doesn't spell that out you note, but it is implied.

And to be doubly sure, simply detune the tuner or remove it.

27 June 2011 at 18:39  

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