Is this public service broadcasting?

It has come as a further shock to many of us that Licence fees levied on the poor and rich alike are spent on such huge salaries as that paid to Jonathan Ross, who then thinks it is entertaining to behave in the way he did recently.

The BBC still has enough power of the airwaves to make people famous by giving them prominence on their programmes. It is diffiicult to see why they need to pay such huge salaries to a select few, when they could make more talent quickly. It is even more difficult to know why we have to put up with the kind of behaviour we have just witnessed, when we have no choice but to pay for the service if we wish to own a TV at all.

It would be good to hear from the BBC. We need to know what they think is distinctive and worthwhile about public service broadcasting. It would also be interesting to hear how the antics of Mr Ross at such high cost fits into this view of the world.

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23 Comments

  1. David morris
    Posted October 28, 2008 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    To be honest John the sort of behaviour displayed by Ross and Brand is simply a reflection of the depths our society has fallen to. When celebrity chefs need to use the F word every other sentence family TV programs are dead.

    I’m much more concerned about the institutional bias the BBC show under the guise of balanced news reporting. Not because they do this unashamedly but because I have no option (other than prison) but to pay for this never ending stream of government propaganda.

  2. Sam Armstrong
    Posted October 28, 2008 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    The BBC is clearly a left-wing organisation whose role, once deemed to be ‘to inform, to educate and to entertain’, is to fill people’s heads with Marxist counter-culture.

    Therefore, I define the BBC as a left-wing propaganda quango that ought to be stripped of its role as a public service broadcaster and be subjected to the free market where public taste would undoubtedly result in its imminent demise.

    There is nothing that Auntie cranks out that could not be done as well or better by a commercial company. And each UK citizen could be £150 or so better off per year!

  3. Chuck Unsworth
    Posted October 28, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Hardly surprising that the scrupulous national broadcaster has not responded. It has been taken over by left-wing sycophants who have little idea of decency – in every sense.

    I hope that as and when we have a change of government the incoming ministers will make it a priority to overhaul this national asset with a view to eliminating its glaring bias and profound stupidity. If we have no choice but to pay its licence fees we should at least have some control over its activities. Currently the Board is out of touch will all parties and reality.

  4. adam
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    BBC is out of date.

    Also increasingly open with their bias. I was amazed to learn Newsnights US election logo uses they letter O instead of the number 0.
    As in USO8

    I wonder what the O might represent???

  5. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    This latest episode tells you all you need to know about the BBC.
    Ross and Brand are out of control just like the BBC.

    To think we are paying for people like this is just sickening to me.

    They have at the very least committed an act of gross misconduct. In any other business they would have been sacked.

  6. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    DAY 1
    This is the opportunity to get rid of these 2 talentless phoneys. Why on earth should the BBC – and we the license feepayers – pay huge sums for such low ratings. This is not prime time we're talking about and the numbers are risible.

    Mark our words BBC managers, unless you take action here you will look back on this incident and see it as a very long nail in the License Fee coffin.

    DAY 2
    Not only was tonight's statement, by the Head of BBC Radio, late but it was totally inadequate.

    The Corporation is way out of touch and here's another candidate for the sack, along we hope with the 2 loud-mouthed phoneys and the programme producer.

    They talk about millions of Ross & Brand fans and their 'greatness as comedians'. Get real people! These are off-peak artists who broadcast to relatively small audiences. They are in no way worth the huge fees the BBC (I mean we the license fee payers) dish out, even if they WERE both great talents. Let's look at comparative audiences in the analysis of all this and take a proper commercial as well as ethical view on their futures. We guarantee these will be short-lived if BBC management listen to their common sense, outraged audience!

  7. Derek
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I know David Cameron has criticised how this came to be aired, but I thought this missed the point. Regardless whether or not it was aired Mr Ross had still in his role as a public servant, not a private individual, telephoned an unsuspecting pensioner and left an offensive and obscene message about a close member of his family.

    Mr Ross should be sacked for gross misconduct, as what he did was morally reprehensible, and I hope not because of an easy opportunity to disguise envy, over his salary, as moral outrage.

  8. Stuart Fairney
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    If SKY had broadcast that and then refused to sack the presenter (whose actions maybe the subject of a police investigation as I understand making such phone calls is legally questionable) then that would be the end of my subscription.

    If the 'pub bore' behaved like this I'd tell him to shut up or find another pub.

    And when the BBC behave like this, I continue to handsomely fund these two 'individuals' and risk criminal prosecution myself if I decline. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, please close the place.

  9. haddock
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    considering the potential for making huge amounts of money just for being 'famous', people with little or no talent should be able to put in a tender for a place with the BBC; the same applies to the House of Commons or The Lords

  10. Tony Makara
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Most ridiculous of all is the claim that the BBC operates a system of redress for those who wish to complain. A number of years ago I wrote to complain at a scene in a children's programme in which youngsters were encourged to eat a tarty sustance against the clock. The idea being that whoever ate the most won the competition. A number of the children involved in this game soon became distressed as they tried, against instinct, to swallow the acidic substance. One girl actually had tears in her eyes the the expression on her face made it quite clear that she wanted to stop, but the presenters of the show kept pushing and goading the distressed child to continue. These were all children of primary school age.

    I wrote to the BBC to complain about the humiliation of these youngsters and received a court, dismissive reply stating that I had misunderstood the concept of 'Fun', the letter went on to suggest that all the children involved were volunteers and had parental approval. Nontheless, to use children in such a degrading way, with prizes for bait, fifteen minutes of fame for bait, struck me as being a gross violation of broadcasting ethics. I should like to see a Conservative government impose a ban on TV shows that degrade children, pouring custard or other substances over their heads etc. This type of thing is dumb-down TV at its worst.

    On the matter of Jonothan Ross, we've all warned about him for years and the fact that we pay 18 million pounds of licence fee money to this foul-mouthed upstart is obscene. The BBC needs to clean up its act and we need a Conservative government to clean up standards in broadcasting.

  11. Abdul-Rahim
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    The BBC is a national treasure, and though the comments were in bad taste, and showed a huge lack of judgement, the public should remember what an asset the Corporation is and that part of the reason it is valued is because it is willing to be daring and bold.

  12. adam
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    One option would be to split the budget and create two stations, one left wing the other right.
    I put myself forward as a candidate to help set up and run this alternate corporation and im sure we could find a number of able and talented people from the biased bbc blog who are willing to dedicate themselves to public service for suitable remuneration.

    Why should the left wing part of society, and the things they find funny, be catered for but not the right. Lets support balance and equality in this instance.

  13. Cliff
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    OFCOM is going to look into the offensive phone calls issue concerning Messers Brand and Ross. I suspect OFCOM smells the chance of imposing a large fine on the BBC. My concern is this, I am forced to fund the BBC through the tax known as the license fee, I am forced therefore to pay those two presenter's salaries which, I understand are substantial, through the revenue raised by that license fee. OFCOM, which I also fund through my taxes, will fine the BBC, who will pay the fine from their money received through the license fee. So yet again I am fining myself. We constantly see this type of crazy situation where public funded bodies are fining publicly funded bodies….What will our party do to address this crazy situation?

    In your opinion John, should such matters as these calls be raised in parliament? I think it is pure hypocracy for politicians to call for the two presenters involved to be sacked or to resign, given the way many politicians have done far worse and are effectively law makers, and yet choose not to resign.

    John, do you feel criminal charges could come from this incident?
    Do you feel this illustrates perfectly how much our society has been dumbed down recently, given the number of young people that think harrassing an old man and being rude about an old mans grandaughter is funny and entertaining?

    Reply: I agree this was not funny and tells us something worrying about BBC standards. I would be surprised if criminal charges resulted. I too dislike having to stand behind all these public bodies as they fine each other. Far better to sack the offenders, and put in management who will have some proper standards. I wouldn't pay anyone a 7 figure salary in a public broadcaster – their appearances boost their market value anyway.

  14. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I have e-mailed the BBC to register my disgust at the ever over-rated Brand and Ross – The Daily Telegraph & Mr Sachs Grand-Daughter are right . The pair of them should be sacked – quite right too !

  15. oldtimer
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Once upon a time the BBC may have been a national treasure. Now that notion is just a fairy tale.

    The BBC inhabits an ivory tower, run by a self perpetuating management oligarchy, funded by a tax system enforced by snooping detector vans and the criminal law. All the evidence is that it is a self-satisfied, arrogant, bureaucratic and politically biased organisation that is too comfortable in its own self centred world and impervious to external criticism. In short, we have an out of control monster on our hands. The Ross/Brand episode has served to awaken many people to voice their complaints about this state of affairs.

    The chances of reform from within the BBC are slim. New forms of public service broadcasting are needed. These reforms should be funded from the existing licence fee income. Over time, that fee income should first be frozen at todays cash level and then reduced to something like 50-66% of todays levels. That should be more than enough for the publicly funded, public service element. The BBC should be required to compete for this lower share – or die.

  16. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    This morning's news regarding the suspension of Ross & Brand indicates that People Power is working..well to an extent that's still slightly too soon to fully evaluate. We believe that neither will be allowed back on-air with the BBC so the next round will be for them to negotiate pay-offs on the basis of contracts asurdly signed by the Corporation.
    Here the affair becomes even more interesting. We believe there is a strong case for dismissal for gross industrial misconduct with summary termination of contract without notice or compensation.
    From this will arise any commercially daft clauses ( our bet is that there will be some) to which the BBC agreed. This will enable us to judge the commercial accumen of the men spending our licence fee as well as the lack of judgement of those who administer it on air.
    WATCH THIS SPACE!

    STOP PRESS
    We hear that Brand is about to fall on his sword…let's hear the terms of that and, irresoective, not let Ross off the hook.

  17. Gordon Riby
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who thinks the reaction to the whole affair is disproportionate? Ross and Brand simply played a practical joke that went too far and ended up causing offence. To be frank some people may have taken it as a joke and laugh. But I do understand that it would be offensive to some. Quite rightly apologies were given to Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter.

    I, like millions of other people, like Jonathan Ross. I don't think that he is talentless or obscene. You will forgive me for saying that I think those views are somewhat unrepresentative of the public at large. There were perhaps, 18,000 – 20,000 complaints and the BBC and government and MP's from both sides of the house all start to wade in and the net result is that I and the MILLIONS of lisence payers who watch Friday Night with Jonathan Ross will not be able to do so – Even though, as many posters to this thread have pointed out, we have paid alot of money to watch it. The persons concerned and the BBC realise the error and have apologised. End of story – It's not as if they have committed a capital offence! If the apology is not accepted then it is a matter for those individuals, the BBC and the authorities. It should not affect my rights as a consumer (and committed capitalist! – I'm with you on the abolition of the lisence fee John) and deprive me of my friday night viewing.

    The fact that politicians are so eager to cast judgement over the affair and advocate the punative steps of taking Friday Night with Jonathan Ross off the air makes me affraid that we may return to a situation where politicians try to act as our moral guardians (remember "Back to Basics") and where a pressure group concerned with our "moral heath and fibre" with a religious agenda gets to tell the rest of us what we can and can't watch.

  18. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    THIS IS NOT GOING AWAY!
    Having seen and heard interviews with the DG, Thompson, and the Trust Chairman, Lyons, it's easy to see how and why the BBC is out of step with public opinion. They are both (words left out-ed) men in no way up to the task of controlling well-paid, creative and egotistical staff necessary in the broadcasting world.

    They are also both fighting a battle to justify the original contract with Ross and the appointment of his own production company. (Brand, too, utilised his own company which obviously creates a conflict in content and editorial decisions)

    In other words Thompson & Lyons are acting as judge and jury on their own commercial judgements and therefore compounding the original error in awarding such a costly long-term contract to an erratic performer in the first place.They know they won't survive if they have to pay out Ross' contract.

    Interviewing Lyons this morning John Humphreys crysallised the wider problem. The Thompson/Lyons stategy is to chase a young audience in a way that alienates the bulk of viewers. This may be a suitable high-risk strategy for a commercial channel but not for the public broadcaster financed in the way it is. It is not old-fashioned to expect the BBC to set rather than follow a standard.

    Both these senior executives should go and the objectives and strategy altered.

    It's pleasing to see that BBC interviewers – presumably aghast at what has happened – are not mincing words with their senior executives.

    This matter is not over by a long chalk. The People are speaking.

    • Gordon Riby
      Posted November 1, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      How are 37,000 people (and any Daily Mail readers) the "bulk" of BBC viewers? I agree that the BBC is biased towards the left and I happen to think Jonathan Ross is paid too much. But he is popular – His chat and radio shows command high ratings. Even Terry Wogan, who hosts the most popular radio show in the UK and whose audience includes people who make up the "silent majority", has criticised the extreme overreaction to these events.

      Another you might want to know is that Andrew Sach's granddaughter has sold her story to the Sun and hired Max Clifford as her spokesperson.

      • Rose
        Posted November 4, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        The people who have written to say what they think about the standards of the BBC may not be the majority, but neither are they a "mob" as the various inarticulate and overpaid mediacrats would have it, even if it is the latter who are feeling besieged in their palaces.

  19. rose
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    The BBC seem to be protecting Mandelson and caricaturing the Shadow Chancellor at a time when we really need to be hearing from both of them, because they fear the Conservatives, if returned, would scrap the licence fee. Worse, this short-sighted and unpatriotic tactic appears to be working.

  20. Bazman
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    They should get a job with SKY. Does anyone think SKY is better than the BBC? You're not serious are you? Where will you all watch period dramas? Still middle England can have their fast food and blue pop advertising to get morally offended by.
    The main problem with this 'comedy' is that would stretch the humor of any boy over the age of twelve. Ross can be funny clever and cutting edge, but has got fat on his money and his celebrity chums. Brand is sixth form college and this will not do him much harm.

  21. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    OUR FIRST BLOG ON 29/10 INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING:
    **************************************************
    “Mark our words BBC managers, unless you take action here you will look back on this incident and see it as a very long nail in the License Fee coffin.”
    *************************************************
    Nothing heard since has altered our view and the debate is certainly not going away but is becoming increasingly mature; your new blog above is a good example and we shall give your question consideration and try to contribute.

    We now understand that the Director General is paid in excess of £800,000pa and he seemed, on the Andrew Marr Show today, to believe this is proper and in line with ‘captains of industry’. We dispute that and were amazed that someone so senior and well-paid laced his replies with so many ‘you knows’ and ‘to be honests’ that we would not have given a potential trainee the time of day had he presented himself so poorly. And this in the Communications industry! We believe that this DG is way out of his depth.

    Like football managers, who have boosted their own pay packets Like football managers, who have boosted their own pay packets – and those of their support teams of camp followers – enormously by strong-arming their directors into player contracts involving ever-increasingly stupid sums, so the BBC hierarchy have used the same tactics with Ross and gang, paying them inappropriate and unnecessary amounts of taxpayers money and thereby justifying their own huge packages.
    As with a major footall club so with the BBC – crowds would turn up in similar numbers with lesser stars on display and some of those lesser lights would become big stars because of the stage on which they now can play!

    As we said previously it’s clear to us that Messrs Thompson, and probably Lyons too , cannot hang onto their jobs if they now terminate Ross. In a company the Board could act in the interests of the shareholders but will Tessa Jowell’s ill-advised, half-baked structure be able to do right thing by us?
    We doubt it.

    However we DO feel confident that one way or another Ross will not return to the BBC and the professional interviewers and presenters who have done a fine job this past week – Humphreys, Maitlis, Mair, Vine and even dear old Marr to name a few – will rejoice that their own roles in the BBC are no longer being devalued by immature numbskulls!

    We believe too that the senior management will before very long follow Brand & Ross out the door.

    Thank you for providing the space here for us to put across what we have found nearly everyone – old and young – are voicing in our local Essex pubs…and no doubt way beyond!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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