The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Murdoch's Nemesis

There's much to grumble about the BBC - the profligacy, over-management etc. etc...  Murdoch Jnr, despite the backlash had some points in his September attack and there are plenty like Guido witholding their license fee on a matter of free market principal - but we should be careful what we wish for.

Sir Michael Lyons announcement yesterday that the Beeb have no intention of charging for on-line news represents a decent hole in the pay wall Murdoch wants to erect around his papers' on-line offering. Don't underestimate the impact of Lyons' statement - battle lines are being drawn...

The Murdoch press has not been shy to have a go at Auntie - mainly on management pay scales and their expenses. This shouldn't be confused with cutting the organisation's ability to inform whatever the delivery medium. The taxpayer has created an outstanding resource, it's current shortcomings are obvious - the real question is whether they're addressed through free-market principles or transparency and accountability.

Give us the choice to pay our license fee or subscribe to Sky and you could find the BBC crippled before the free market decides it doesn't want news from News International. Talk of a Murdoch pact deal with Cameron & Co is rife and the implications for the BBC with Tories in control are significant. Today we have a right to demand transparency and accountability from the Beeb, that could be lost in the free market.

Our commercial terrestrial stations were happy to take the money and run when a broadcasting license was a license to print money and before the on-line advertising gold rush left them at the starting line. Now things aren't looking rosy they want some of the license fee cash. Free market principles should have driven them to invest in digital delivery - instead they chose to vote dividends. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for voting dividends, but the free market led them to the wrong choice. They won't be the first media industry to find themselves in a critical condition because they were too slow to adopt digital technology. Witness the crumbling record industry after it's spent years fighting digital distribution and effectively preventing customers from cheap, convenient, legal access to their product. The result is a generation of listeners believing they're entitled to free music. The same is happening with video, film, news and information - monetising these things will be a tricky business with casualties along the way.

The same license fee that allows the BBC to quickly adopt an on-line future gives us the right to stomp about a bit if we think they're failing to deliver. The obligation to pay it further legitimises our stamping and shouting, in fact, drives us to it. Without that obligation - the free market simply dictates a don't bother watching and don't pay response - much easier than enforcing transparency, impartiality etc. in quality programming - if you've ever had the pleasure of watching US news (check out the Daily Show on More 4) you'll know how crap, biased unspeakably bad it can be.

Now that Mark Thompson is publishing their expenses, it'll mean big earners at the Beeb should police themselves. Hopefully this will be the first step for streamlining the organisation, making it more accountable, transparent - we shall see. Private corporations have no such obligations - especially if the shareholders are happy. When they're unhappy, we've seen how quickly they turn to the license fee when the free market stops delivering returns - "if you're gonna make us produce balanced news to the regions for a broadcasting license we want some of the fee.".

Murdoch's nemesis isn't ours - if we don't focus our criticism of the BBC, we could well be cutting off our nose to spite our face and .

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