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Why BBC? Why?

By Art Grainger
Posted 11 January 2016, 7.59am est
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I'm a big supporter of the BBC but I do sometimes wonder how the seem to get away with spending, spending and yet more spending on things that they probably don't need to do.

After reading a report about the possibility of the BBC News Channel being closed, I immediately thought "No bloody wonder." Of all the BBC's outlets, this is one channel where money appears to be no object.

On this 24 hour news channel, we have several newsreaders repeating the domestic news bulletins throughout the day - but then at primetime slots, we have a different newsreader doing the same job for a mere half hour, then we don't see them until the next day. If a major news story breaks somewhere else on the planet, said primetime newsreader is jetted off to that place, to stand in front of a landmark, to read the same story that was reported by a locally based correspondent .... and then after he or she has done his bit, they immediately hand over to another newsreader in the news studio for the rest of today's news.

Then comes the real bugbear I have. Scottish news stories!!!! For some reason the BBC send a "Scotland Correspondent" to report the news story. This person is usually English and often can't pronounce the place names. This is immediately followed by our own Reporting Scotland program for which one of our own reporters is actually doing the same story in the same place - and speaking the same language!!!!

Why BBC? Why?

Comments

1 year, 10 months ago

I couldn't agree more with you Art, and with the impending closure of BBC Three, it makes me even more angry.

To be honest we all know that Radio 3, 6Music or the Asian Network are FAR more ideal candidates for the chop but the handful of people that do listen know how to write a good letter and then know which postbox to pop it though.

The duplication of resources in news though I just find baffling. There isn't a single reason why the Reporting Scotland team covering the story couldn't also cover the News Channel. I find that sort of approach just barmy.

In all honesty, the BBC could make the savings they need to make without hurting any of their audience if they did it properly.

There's all this talk of making BBC Three an "online" proposition but why couldn't BBC Two pick up the remit? If anything, BBCs Three and Four have taken away much of what BBC Two did beforehand.

They U-turned on closing 6Music. Why? At a time when Radios 1 & 2 need to prove themselves different and unique, what a wonderful thing it would be to move 6Music's remit onto R1/R2, particularly at night.

Does the News Channel have to close? Absolutely not. Could it merge more wth World? Probably. Could it make a huge amount of savings by using the resources available to it through local TV and Radio? Absolutely.

1 year, 10 months ago

Also, one of the bizarre things (which we won't now see, of course) is the way they handle Eurovision.

The grand final is on BBC One with Graham Norton commentating down an ISDN line.

However, the semi-finals go on BBC Three. Now, these semis are probably only really watched by the hardcore fans like myself. However, they put in a lot of effort (and presumably expense) to "BBC Three-ise" the shows. Firstly, they have two additional commentators to Graham. Then, the EBU feed is heavily pre-empted with the commentators in-vision interviewing people during the commercial break windows or the interval act (granted sometimes this material is crap during the semis, but the Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark still have high production values for this stage of the process) - and then they do wierd VTs in the middle. Imagine The Xtra Factor but pre-empting large parts of the main ITV show, and you get the picture.

All this must cost a bomb when most hardcore fans would rather see the EBU feed!

1 year, 9 months ago

The Cost of BBC services roughly equals the price of a pint of beer per week. I reckon the BBC should be at least worth three pints of beer a week with the odd hauf thrown in for good measure!
Even though some of the cash will go on administration, the BBC should be retaining all their TV and radio services and use these services as an armour plate to battle with this aggressive Westminster government.

Away from front line channels, cost savings could be met like pulling the plug on all of the medium and long wave transmitter sites and FM, only when DAB becomes truly market led in the medium to long term.
Later, digital terrestrial transmitters for TV and radio should be reviewed at some point. It is estimated everyone in the modern world will possess a smart phone/tablet by (or before) 2024. Radio and TV services could cancel out duplicated means of delivery on a phase over plan to be piggy-backed on broadband (and satellite until its reviewed at a later date)!

The points made about the BBC utilising regional staff for major events, instead of booting them to the side to allow national staff to take over these events, is not a recent issue!
Historically, the BBC with its over centralised culture never really trusted its regional staff. ITV on the other hand saw regional staff as a major asset when big news broke in particular areas! I think we can blame John Reith for the over centralised BBC structure!

Why waste money on giving an online tv channel to BBC Scotland. We have already got regionalised versions of BBC 1 and 2 in Scotland. The BBC in London did not see the value of a Radio Scotland 2. Again, the BBC is showing its over centralised credentials with scant respect to staff at BBC Scotland!!

PRO1 year, 9 months ago

On this 24 hour news channel, we have several newsreaders repeating the domestic news bulletins throughout the day - but then at primetime slots, we have a different newsreader doing the same job for a mere half hour, then we don't see them until the next day.

The main bulletin newsreader will have worked a full shift preparing for the bulletin that goes out also on BBC One and also presents 5-6pm on the News Channel.

The 'News Channel' has gone through various cuts, which has seen the channel in essence either simulcast with BBC World News or off-air.

A typical weekday is along the lines of this:

0600-0830: Simulcast with BBC One
0830-0915: Simulcast with BBC World News
0915-1200: Simulcast with BBC Two (Victoria Derbyshire, then BBC News)
1200-1300: BBC News
1300-1330: Simulcast with BBC One
1330-1700: Double headed presentation
1700-1800: Presented by the BBC News at Ten presenter
1800-1830: Simulcast with BBC One
1830-2100: Single headed presenter
2100-2200: Simulcast with BBC World News
2200-2230: Simulcast with BBC One
2230-0000: Single headed presentation, including newspaper review and sport
0000-0600: Simulcast with BBC World News and BBC One.

As you can see, the News Channel heavily shares it's output with either BBC One or Two or takes BBC World News programming.

1 year, 9 months ago

Okay, so it's time I started busting some myths round here.

Art Grainger first...

After reading a report about the possibility of the BBC News Channel being closed, I immediately thought "No bloody wonder." Of all the BBC's outlets, this is one channel where money appears to be no object.

Oh really? BBC News Channel is £46.2 million worth of content spending, according to the latest BBC annual report, and that was down over £2million from the previous year, and coincidentally, the same amount was spent on BBC Radio 2, and a mere £200K more than was spent on BBC4, a part time channel, and BBC News Channel is on air 24 hours a day.

Contrast that to BBC1, which spends over £1.1 billion on their content, and frankly at times, some of the spending is blatantly obvious. I'd say there is room for efficiencies on BBC1, or better use of the money that is spent, because some of that spending is excessive.

James Martin next...

To be honest we all know that Radio 3, 6Music or the Asian Network are FAR more ideal candidates for the chop but the handful of people that do listen know how to write a good letter and then know which postbox to pop it though.

If only it were that simple. Radio 3 pays for the Proms and the BBC's orchestras, so it's not a simple matter. And as for 6music and Asian Network, they are at the cheaper end of the BBC spectrum, costing just £8.0million and £6.2million respectively. In fact, if you add up all the costs of the DAB only BBC stations, they are still about £12 million cheaper, than the cheapest of the main 5, which is BBC Radio 3.

If you're looking for cost savings and efficiencies, there are a few places I could point you to.

5 Live has gotten incredibly expensive recently, costing over £49 million. Radio 4's the big spender of the bunch at £87.8million. Radio 1 and Radio 2 are both over £40 million, and I have to ask what is that money getting spent on, because frankly it looks like there are excessive amounts being spent on those stations.

Even regional and local radio looks somewhat excessive, and Radio Scotland are ironically the worst offenders here, costing £21.7million on it's own, and yet it seems no different than Radio Wales and Radio Ulster, which spend between 20% and 33% less than Radio Scotland does.

Even local radio doesn't come across as efficient spenders. On average, each station spends just under £3miilion on their output, and considering what is done on those stations, you have to wonder if they are paying for 2 people where 1 would do. I'm not saying that I would cut producers out from the heavy talk shows at breakfast and drive time, but I don't see a need for a separate producer on a morning or afternoon entertainment show.

James again...

The duplication of resources in news though I just find baffling. There isn't a single reason why the Reporting Scotland team covering the story couldn't also cover the News Channel. I find that sort of approach just barmy.

You know what I find barmy? Somebody who thinks a reporter can produce packages for 2 different audiences, for 2 different programmes, airing one after the other. Having produced video myself, from scripting, through shooting to editing & adding graphics, in times varying from 90 minutes at absolute quickest to 3 hours at the top end, your suggestion has all the hallmarks of someone living in cloud cuckoo land.

...and back to James once more...

They U-turned on closing 6Music. Why? At a time when Radios 1 & 2 need to prove themselves different and unique, what a wonderful thing it would be to move 6Music's remit onto R1/R2, particularly at night.

I don't think that re-incorporating 6music into Radio 2 is necessarily the right move. BBC Radio as a whole needs a complete reshaping once again, much like it went through back in 1967. There isn't an easy answer here. The only thing I wouldn't change substantially is Radio 3 right now, as that has a very well defined purpose, and is really strong. Everything else is on the table, even Radio 4, which as popular as it is, probably needs to be reshaped in some way, or at least needs a significant change in order to keep it from becoming somewhat archaic, but maintaining its distinctiveness when compared to almost every other station out there.

Willie Bone now...

Why waste money on giving an online tv channel to BBC Scotland. We have already got regionalised versions of BBC 1 and 2 in Scotland. The BBC in London did not see the value of a Radio Scotland 2. Again, the BBC is showing its over centralised credentials with scant respect to staff at BBC Scotland!!

The BBC in London is not the only ones who can't see the value in a second Radio Scotland. What would Radio Scotland 2 actually provide that isn't being provided now? There isn't really a justifiable reason for Radio Scotland 2 to exist that I can see. Additional sports coverage? Not enough really to justify an entire new station. BBC Radio as a whole needs reshaping, and maybe some regionalisation of the national services, such as Radio 2 for instance, having regional news, weather and travel bulletins rather than national ones. Unless things significantly change for the BBC, which I don't expect to see whilst Cameron is in power, then the idea of a second Radio Scotland, looks about as fanciful right now, as seeing BBC Kernow/Cornwall as a separate section on the iPlayer, but there's a petition out there trying to bring that about. Great idea in theory, but in practical terms, there just isn't enough material out there to justify it, and I can't see the BBC suddenly declaring Cornwall a National Region.

1 year, 9 months ago

Ian, BBC Radio Scotland 2 was planned primarily as a music service while the established service would be speech based like a Scottish version of BBC Radio 4.
Currently, Scotland does not have another intelligent radio output source. ILR local programming has faded into history with no real alternative services to match the BBC. The commercial stations in Scotland all sound the same, with no element of surprise to relieve the gloom of delivering to the lowest common denominator of listenership!

No one will get an argument out of me about the merits of status quo commercial radio in Scotland! Why argue over a deregulated mess?

The BBC is not perfect, but I respect it! Most of my listening time is to BBC services.

If the licence fee is ever abolished, I will gladly subscribe to BBC television and radio, Radio Scotland 2 included!!

1 year, 9 months ago

Sorry, Willie Bone, but I don't see how copying RTE Radio 1 & 2FM is a good move for Scotland.

I don't disagree with you about the fate of ILR programming, and how commercial radio currently sounds, but I just don't see how BBC creating a second national regional station for Scotland, would be preferable over creating a number of local stations in Scotland. There's a need to expand BBC Local Radio, properly into Wales and Scotland. The fact that BBC Local Radio is England only is frankly ridiculous, and should be rectified.

1 year, 9 months ago

Ian, RTE 2FM is not supported by the licence fee in the Republic Of Ireland. Although it belongs to RTE, the 2FM service is entirely supported by advertising, thus it must retain mass appeal at most times of the day!
A BBC Radio Scotland 2 service could have included extended coverage of minority music programmes like piping, folk music from the Orkneys & Shetlands, Wickerman Festival output from Dumfries & Galloway & T in the park, as examples.

Away from the BBC, there is not much live music output. One notable exception is the winter Celtic Music festival in Glasgow which is currently airing on community channel Celtic Music Radio. I have got to say, CMR output at these festivities does make good radio!

I agree in principle, the absence of BBC local radio in the nations is a bit ridiculous! To be honest, I like Radio Scotland & Radio Ulster with both services having a diverse style of programming, including comedy and drama for listeners in their respective areas.

Now that the BBC Radio Scotland 2 proposal has been jettisoned, the medium wave variations could be either carried fully on BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal, or with a temporary reduction to Radio Gael's bit rates to 64kbps while allowing the streaming of midweek Sportsound or MSP output.

Going back to this gifted online TV channel for Scotland, courtesy of BBC London headquarters. I still struggle to see the value of it along with the scottish regional programming on BBC One Scotland & BBC 2 Scotland!

Actually, the BBC Three forerunner channel, BBC Choice was regionalised to allow Scottish programming. A sort of good idea which was excess to requirement, north of the border!!

1 year, 9 months ago

Willie Bone;

RTE 2FM is not supported by the licence fee in the Republic Of Ireland. Although it belongs to RTE, the 2FM service is entirely supported by advertising...

Oh you are sooooo... BUSTED!

From the RTE Annual Report for 2014, released last September, RTE 2FM actually received over €5.6 million of licence fee funding, which was slightly more than the €5 million it got from commercial revenue including sponsorship.

I don't know where you get this rubbish but you might want to reconsider trusting them as a source of information, because they've lead you astray.

Going back to this gifted online TV channel for Scotland, courtesy of BBC London headquarters. I still struggle to see the value of it along with the scottish regional programming on BBC One Scotland & BBC 2 Scotland!
Actually, the BBC Three forerunner channel, BBC Choice was regionalised to allow Scottish programming. A sort of good idea which was excess to requirement, north of the border!!

I have to admit BBC Choice was a good thing, and I was saddened to see it get replaced by something that I thought ended up being a lot inferior, BBC Three. I wouldn't mind seeing BBC Choice come back, but as a fully regionalised channel.

My expectation on any new online TV channel is so low that I think the BBC have made a huge mistake by making BBC Three online only even with iPlayer. And this BBC Scotland online TV channel is I'm afraid similarly doomed. Even the most tech savvy of my friends don't go watching live TV online more than once in blue moon, and having done my research on it, I can understand why. Most of the best content is on broadcast television already, and for every House Of Cards that appears on online sources, there's a ton of good stuff on broadcast television already. Given that choice, I think I'll stick with broadcast television mostly. I just can't see how these services are going to survive as online only, when even RTE News Now has had to go on to broadcast platforms.

1 year, 9 months ago

I did check the latest available RTE Annual Report & I hate to say "you are correct, I am busted". RTE 2FM did receive licence fee support, as reported.
Stating that, the BBC Radio Scotland 2 aspiration was not akin to RTE 2FM's type of programming! Anyway, the proposal was turned down by BBC management (for the time being).

I do feel the gifted online TV channel for Scotland is a bit of a sop, to keep the natives happy!

PRO1 year, 9 months ago

The EBU/Eurovision thing - there is virtually no additional cost for the semi-final coverage. The additional BBC equipment is needed for the final, so the only additional costs are the talent and the operators. If you compare with what could have been going out in that slot - a drama, a documentary - the costs are peanuts.

Similarly, the costs of BBC News Channel are small: 14 hours are simulcast, and the reports used even in the non-simulcast bit are also used across services. Live two-ways are generally there because the reporter is in the scene anyway; and international live two-ways are used on BBC World News as well (at least, the people in them are).

I'd agree that there's some duplication with local reporting vs national, but this isn't a cost issue: more an editorial one. And while I am still irritated at two sets of weather presenters telling me what the weather's going to be like, it's a fairly lean operation, all told. The BBC is also very good at hiding much of the obvious cost-savings (you'd not know about the BBC World News simulcasts unless you really paid attention).

Discussions around "what the BBC should close" are normally driven by NIMBYism - "I don't listen to Radio 3, so I think it should be shut" - which is not only short-sighted but also misses the very point of the BBC: that it's there for all of the UK, and particularly there to fill in the gaps that can't be funded by commercial operations. Look at other countries, and you'll quickly see the folly of thinking that it shouldn't.

1 year, 9 months ago

In the meantime, I laughed at the poor wee English lass (a "Scotland Correspondent") who stood on a shore of a West Coast community, speaking with her middle-English plums-in-her-mouth accent, telling the national audience with the best Scottish line she could think of that "It was blowing a hooley" where she was standing. This was a job that could have been done by one of our own regional reporters or even weather people - we have a Judith for that!!!! Some of them actually live there.

So while Ian was wanting to dispel the "myth" about how much the BBC News Channel really costs, I still cannot understand why regional reporters cannot be used by the national network for big stories in the regions. Nor do I understand why the BBC feels the need to jet-off their primetime newsreader to stand in front of a landmark of a country where a major international story is taking place, when there are already BBC journalists (sometimes wearing bullet-proof vests) in the area.

England's ITV often uses STV journalists for major stories happening North of the border. IRN/Sky News often uses journalists from the local radio stations dotted around the country. Why can't the BBC do the same?

PRO1 year, 9 months ago

England's ITV often uses STV journalists for major stories happening North of the border. IRN/Sky News often uses journalists from the local radio stations dotted around the country. Why can't the BBC do the same?

They do. All the time.

1 year, 9 months ago

If a commercial operator wishes to open a (relatively) neutral UK focused rolling news channel then I have no problem with BBC News (channel) closing down.

However, we are so used to dipping in to TV news at irregular times and having realistically only Sky News offering a UK service, I would feel quite aggrieved. Even if Red Button + / iPlayer news bulletins were beefed up, I think I'd be put off that it's not live & now. Even if there's a lot of filling.

BBC World News is shockingly dull, repetitive and seemingly un-targetted that when I'm travelling I feel it's not even worth tuning in to if it's available. But, it's an important asset so will continue.

ITN made a reasonable effort at 24 hour news some time ago but 3 was a crowd.

I wouldn't consider EuroNews, Al Jazeera, RT, CNN or even Reuters on the Apple TV appropriate and suitable alternatives to BBC/Sky News.

I would very much miss the BBC but other than news or special events I'm becoming increasingly agnostic and watching much of my TV on either catch-up or Netflix/Now TV. That's not going to pay many TV bills for traditional commercial operators so feeling quite torn about losing linear TV against convenience and choice.

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