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Auntie Didn't Fix It: The Saville Scandal

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The British Broadcasting Corporation

Bad At Broadcasting

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Although nothing could justify the BBC's revenue-raising methods, it tries to find justification in the “cultural good” that Mr. Thompson claims that it does. In reality, most viewers of the BBC's many channels will see little to support his claim. They are more likely to witness a torrent of mediocre programmes. The idea of public service broadcasting that the BBC embraces and that taxpayers must support includes a lottery draw, endless soaps and snooker marathons.

A Financial Times journalist has described most BBC programmes as “dumbed down” and “virtually indistinguishable from (those on) commercial channels.” He characterised some as “fifth rate” and “garbage.”

The proportion of its income that the corporation spends on programme content fell between 2007 and 2009. Most of its budget for drama is spent on three “soaps”. British dramatist Peter Jukes told Prospect magazine in 2009 that the BBC's dominant position was responsible for a decline in high-end TV drama. He blamed the state broadcaster for the failure of British TV to compete with the best of American drama such as The Wire and Mad Men. Mr. Jukes said that the BBC's internal politics and “Who's up and who's down” determined which TV shows were commissioned, not the “quality of an idea”.

Whatever your view of public service broadcasting (and I support it) the near monopoly of the BBC in drama commissioning is disastrous.
Peter Jukes

In the “weapons of mass destruction dossier” scandal the BBC was seen to take advantage of the trust widely placed in it to give credence to a dubious news story, exaggerating the status of its anonymous source. The then BBC chief Gavyn Davies admitted to the Hutton enquiry into to the death of that source, David Kelly, that his corporation had not validated its allegation that the government had used false intelligence to make its case for war before broadcasting it.

Part 6. The Corporation fights for its privileges.

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