BBC technicians and journalists are staging a 24-hour strike today in protest of job cuts and restructuring. The strike is expected to cause disruption to TV, radio and online news services. Live broadcasts such as news programmes will be particularly affected and a Paris concert by Oasis that Radio 1 was planning to broadcast could also be hit.
The publicly-funded corporation is cutting 3,780 jobs as part of a streamlining operation needed to save money for reinvestment in new types of digital media. The BBC’s 27,000 employees are being represented by three unions: Bectu, the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (5000), the National Union of Journalists (3500), and Amicus. More strikes are planned.
Meanwhile, of interest to licence fee payers will be the claims by ex-BBC employee of 25 years Robin Aitkin. In his book, ‘Taking Sides: Bias at the BBC’, Aitkin accuses the BBC of institutionalised leftism and an agenda that colours the overall BBC output. If true the ‘tone’ of broadcasts could be having a profound effect on the public due to the BBC’s significant cultural power. Blithering Bunny has re-mediated It’s Not Easy Being a Tory at the BBC a story about Robin Aitkin by Damien Thompson, originally from the print edition of The Daily Telegraph, Saturday May 14th.
The BBC website states about the licence fee:
"The BBC is paid for directly through each household TV licence. This allows it to run a wide range of popular public services for everyone, free of adverts and independent of advertisers, shareholders or political interests. 98% of the UK population used the BBC every month in 2003/4.
To watch TV in Britain the annual cost (set by the Government) is currently £126.50. A black and white TV licence is £42. There is no radio licence."
As Melanie Phillips reinforces in her article Bias at the Beeb:
"Fairness, impartiality and objectivity are the essence of public service broadcast journalism. This understanding is enshrined in the BBC’s charter and provides a key justification for the licence fee." Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 16 May 2005.
Now what would happen if a million or so people went on strike and refused to pay the licence fee? Why not let people pay by subscription only? That way the public can choose what they want to pay for and the BBC can have political agendas.
You can read more about these matters at the following sources:
- Strike brings BBC to standstill by Owen Gibson, media correspondent, The Guardian, Monday May 23, 2005.
- A Report on Anti-Israel Bias in BBC News Coverage by Jonathan M Hantman
- Time to watch the BBC bias that costs each of us £116 a year by Charles Moore, Telegraph, (Filed: 09/09/2003).