Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The BBC enters the advertorial business

Listening to BBC3 in the car this morning (someone else's car) I found myself listening to a programme which was clearly designed for American cable TV. It was essentially an advert for a miraculous invention; glow in the dark house numbers so that ambulances/pizza delivery can find you more easily. While this was dressed up as a feature with incredibly probing questions like "well, wasn't it a little expensive?" to which the answer was, obviously, "the technology is expensive but we now have a special discount just for this show" it always reverted to a sales pitch. Had they been selling versatile blenders it couldn't have been much tackier.

With the collosal bias in the BBC news coverage, advertising features like this and BBC online's ongoing crippling of the UK online industry through its massively subsidised websites surely the case for scrapping the license fee has to be mounting. It was while I was in China appreciating the role of the BBC in undermining dicatatorships only to realise that the relevant service was BBC Worldwide (which was sold off and is a private concern) that I finally appreciated the complete pointlessness of the license fee we are all forced to pay.


Serf said...

I would be happy to buy some of what the BBC does by subscription.

However, when it comes to current events, its like being forced to buy the Guardian, in order to be allowed to read the Telegraph.

Dave Cole said...

I think the charge of BBC bias is a bit rich when you have Nick Robinson pitching things in a manner (admittedy very clever manner) that stops just short of being obvious to the general public but which, IMHO, is pro-Tory.

You need to distinguish between BBC Worldwide and BBC World Service. BBC Worldwide is the commerical arms, that sells Fawlty Towers et al around the world. While I am sure that Basil and Sybil's adventures in a failing capitalist enterprise would deeply threaten the CCP, the BBC World Service is funded by the licence fee and by the FCO. The various foreign language versions of the BBC are funded by the licence fee, as is the website.

Insert sarcastic comment here.


Dave Cole said...

I would add, though, that the best coverage from BBC News 24 comes when no-one is listening. News around lunchtime and dinnertime, not to mention the facile 'Breakfast, on News 24 is very similar to on BBC1/2. If you tune in when people have gone to work, between 1430 and 1530 and particularly after about 0100 but before 0600, the coverage is pretty good and much closer to the World Service news in standard.

What do you think of 'Today' on Radio 4? What channels would you cancel? The choice is on TV: BBC1-4, CBBC, CBeebies, News 24 and Parliament and on Radio: R1-7, 1Xtra, 5Xtra, Asian Network and various local radio stations.

Oh, the international stations like BBC America are used to pay for things at home.

On another note, do you think that the BBC should have this leadership role in changing over to digital?

Matthew Sinclair said...

Quite frankly I don't care which services survive. Let the market decide.

The channel I was watching (and was not supposed to be, the important arm) was a part of BBC Worldwide. It had adverts etc.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Oh... and the BBC isn't leading the digital revolution. Sky had digital TV some time before the BBC and has done far more with it.