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Commercially funded

Rome Hartman | 09:43 UK time, Friday, 17 October 2008

Almost every time I post to The Editors, no matter what the topic, comments come in along this general line: "Why in the world is the BBC using money from the British licence fee payer to fund a programme aimed at Americans?" Those comments deserve an answer, and it's a very simple one: The entire programme budget for BBC World News America comes from BBC Worldwide, not the licence fee. The programme is made by BBC World News on behalf of Worldwide - and the channels which carry us run commercials to help pay our bills.

BBC World News America logoOf course we benefit tremendously from the global newsgathering apparatus of the BBC, and that apparatus is licence fee-funded. But BBC World News, one of the commercial channels on which our programme runs, also make a very big payment to BBC News each year to support that infrastructure.

And in my short time here, I've been very impressed by how careful the BBC is to make sure that the British licence fee payer is not paying for work that doesn't benefit them. For example, if Karen Allen does a story from Kenya for the News at Ten and we want to re-air that story on our programme, fair enough. More people get to see her great work, with no additional cost to anyone. But if we ask Karen to also do a live interview with Matt Frei to accompany and complement that story, we pay any extra costs (satellite time, etc) from our budget.

This is an important subject, and I hope I've been able to clear up any confusion.


  • Comment number 1.

    "BBC World News ... make[s] a very big payment to BBC News each year ...."

    If you are going to attempt to be transparent here, an actual number would be just perfect.

    Then I can compare it to the figures in the BBC Annual Report!

    Now, how many people know that Channel 4 is a Public Corporation (no shareholders) just like the BBC?

  • Comment number 2.

    Fair enough, although I agree with #1 that an actual breakdown of costs would be nice.

    Going off on a tangent as a Scot living in England I seem to be held personally responsible for the Barnett formula. If the BBC would publish actual figures for spending in the UK relative to local GDP it would also be nice. In both cases FACTS AND FIGURES matter to the general public.

  • Comment number 3.

    the licence for tv and radio is as any one knows not paid to the bbc it goes into government quangos before it reaches the bbc this viewers can see by result.
    if the bbc were to obtain 100% of licence moneys then i can say as an organisation they should and would be ashamed of themselves for there viewing content.
    that aside aiming at the american market is good and should proove worth while just as long as home based viewers dont have to suffer too much americanisation.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's not really the money that folks object to Rome.

    It's the Americanisation of the British news folks are upset with. BBC america paid for by BBC worldwide. I wonder how much of the worldwide budget gets spent on our american cousins.

    There is also an opportunity cost with relation to the whole operation. We have forgone doing something useful by spending all this time and money on BBC America. If it were just a money making exercise then arms dealing has a much better balance sheet.

    And try not to sound to proud that the whole operation is funded through commercials and such. One of the many positive aspects of the BBC was that they were immune from commercial pressures (Officially if not actually). So now the brand is exposed to commercial pressures which surely is a threat to the independant integrity of the brand.

    So, yeah, thanks for that. I know you guys love your new american wing, clearly we don't.

  • Comment number 5.

    I mostly agree with Hank #4 however a second question that should perhaps be asked to fully complete his point is how much of the total revenue of BBC worldwide is raised in America? If 50% is raised there and 50% spent there then fair enough. If its 20:70 then clearly India etc are subsidising the american audience which isn't fair.

    Actually I've no problem with advertising on the BBC as long as its done within a public service remit. Cooking shows where the price of and all the source of ingredients are listed would be more use than trying to find out which supermarket does sell Galangal etc. The same would apply for DIY shows, crime prevention shows etc. To some extent programs like Top Gear could be argued to provide adverts already. If Clarkson says the new Ford costing £20,000 is good then he's effectively advertising it.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for that explanation - I was interested to know the situation following some previous blog entries. Personally I am more than pleased to accept your assurance that all reasonable steps are taken to recover costs.

    I'm still not sure why the BBC wants to do this.

    Is this about promoting the BBC world view in the US? - a reverse version of when the Americans ran 'voice of America' into Soviet occupied Europe in order to put accross the US view.

    If not, what is it for?

  • Comment number 8.

    How narrow minded some people are. It is hugely beneficial to the BBC and to the UK as a whole that BBC programmes get screened across the world even if some was funded by licence payers.

    The world gets influenced by the UK, the UK gets influenced by the rest of the world - a win-win situation.

    It is a huge blessing that we have such an outward looking organisation in the BBC - unlike the parochial news and general TV coverage in some countries, notably the US where there is often little coverage of matters beyond the state line, let alone Washington and the wider world.

    It is a matter of considerable regret to me that it is so difficult for us to get foreign TV coverage in this country (cross border TV is common across most of Europe including Ireland). We get German TV (here in the UK) on analogue , and it is great to get a different perspective on things by, say, listening to their coverage of the same wolrd events.

    Anything that broadens minds has to be good.

  • Comment number 9.

    "How narrow minded some people are. It is hugely beneficial to the BBC and to the UK as a whole that BBC programmes get screened across the world even if some was funded by licence payers."

    Really? Why does the world benefit from seeing repeats of Dad's army, Some mothers do have em & Eastenders (I speak from experience of seeing the BBC in India)

    Sadly the UK doesn't have much influence anymore beyond a historical seat on the UN security council (which we'd never qualify for now) and our legacy of the English language. You're kidding yourself if you believe that the BBC's love of Obama will encourage americans to vote dem... in fact I'd suggest the opposite is more likely.

  • Comment number 10.

    You can put all the lipstick on a pig you like but BBC America is and will always be regarded by Americans as an alien presence in the United States. It's more than news from a foreign perspective, it's output is pure propaganda and you of all people should know it won't work. British opinions will never carry any weight in the US just as all other foreign opinions don't carry any either. The UK is seen as an insidious way for the EU to impose its influence.

  • Comment number 11.

    I know that BBC America is not funded by the
    BBC in London...

  • Comment number 12.

    Rome, can I apologise for the narrowmindedness and constant bickering/nit-picking shown by some of my countrymen? I for one have seen you make it clear on more than one occasion that the BBC World programming isn't license fee funded, but some people are clearly never pleased.

    The posts above asking for figures, clearly indicate who these people are.

    Go on doing the good job you do.

  • Comment number 13.

    me and Peter agree on something

    I will mark this day in my calender.

  • Comment number 14.

    the fact is the once great BBC needs to become more funded by other sources, to have a good management team to ensure better content with new income sources.
    then the licence fee can finaly be removed and it be shown for what it is, a government stealth tax, one of the methods of income the government obtains but will not freely admit or deny. the BBC only gets a fraction of the fee and could easily loose it with advertising and other funding.

  • Comment number 15.

    To those asking for figures, theres really only one which matters.

    Overall, the activities of BBC Worldwide, which includes BBC World News, BBC America, other international channels and all of the other commercial opperations dealing with magazines, DVD's etc. generated a £118 million profit in 2007/8.

    That money gets re-invested by the BBC at home and suppliments what it recieves from the license fee.

    So to me, rather than getting on these guys backs - we need to encourage their expansion and growth. The more successful they are - they both spead the BBC brand around the world and generate more profits for the BBC. In time, that's hopefully going to reduce the proportion of the BBC's buget that the license fee payer is accountable for.

    Its win-win.

  • Comment number 16.

    Just shows you how wrong you can be. I thought the Foreign Office were paying.

    So, are you actually telling us that the BBC subsidise this service? If so, what is the point of it?

  • Comment number 17.

    Apple, the figures you give out are neither impressive or entirely accurate.

    You should have of course stated that it was £118 million less exeptionals.the actual profit figure is 77.8 milion. Pedantic point, I know, but the devil is in the detail. So this whole worldwide business that the bbc has decided to undertake has added under 77.8 million to an annual budget of over 4 billion.

    Interesting if you look through the who's who of the bbc worldwide board. you get a list of oxbridge graduates, financial sevices people, rhodes scholars, accountants and lawyers. WHo serve on boards ranging from chemical companies, private equity companies, mobile phone companies and such and such. All very well paid no doubt

    If you want a real laugh then download the annual review. The more you read the more you realise that this BBC worldwide adventure is a web of agreements, joint ventures, jobs for the boys. There are holding companies, venture companies etc etc etc.

    All we want is a trustworthy, independent source for information, education and entertainment. Its what we pay for, its what we are forced to pay for and threatened if we refuse to. What we have got is a 'public' organisation that seems to be disappearing on one side to being the broadcaster of 'state truths' and on the other a friend of business and industry.

    Not so independant after all.

    So on one side we have pressure over Dr. Kelly on the other we have threats of pulled advertising.

    Rome, you have only added to my confusion as i try my best to understand exactly what you guys are up to.

    And if you want to be an independant company that is unfunded by the taxpayer then thats fine, just use another name.

  • Comment number 18.

    The question BBC doesn't answer and for which I would never expect a truthful answer is WHY does BBC feel the need to create a BBC America channel? Does it think it can influence the American political dialogue? A laughable assumption since most of those few who are even aware of BBC regard it as Anti-American and dismiss it as a tool of its socialist leaning pro-European management as well as an agent of the UK government. Does it see profits to be made? How cynical that would be since its mandate in its charter has nothing to do with making money. Is it a way for BBC employees to find an escape route should Britain implode and become a third world society including Sharia law and a large number of non traditional inhabitants who have altered the British nation unrecognizably? There's a possibility.

    BBC's efforts at understanding America have proven pathetically inadequate. Their conception of it five years ago as expressed in their broadcast of the six part series, "America Age of Empire" was embarrassing. Their efforts to understand it today by closely following the political campaign and getting out into the hinterland to meet as many Americans as they could on their own turf and hear what is currently on their minds was admirable but woefully inadequate. They are about to try another series of broadcasts to explain America to itself and the world. What they will explain to Americans is their own current prism and whether it is as distorted as their last one was as well as the nature of the distortion.

    I've always said that if BBC actually wants to get a real feel for it, they have no choice but to study American history going back to the earliest origins of the country, its economic and political systems but most important how and why they evolved the way they did. Unlike virtually all other nations, America and Americans are not defined by a common history. Those whose families arrived only one or two generations ago are as assimilated as those whose families have lived here for centuries. The judgements BBC has audaciously passed on America have been based on its arrogant presumption that it understands something of enormous complexity it is virtually clueless about. Frankly, I don't expect that to change any time soon.

  • Comment number 19.

    Looking at this:

    "Of course we benefit tremendously from the global newsgathering apparatus of the BBC, and that apparatus is licence fee-funded. But BBC World News, one of the commercial channels on which our programme runs, also make a very big payment to BBC News each year to support that infrastructure"

    I feel that familiar fury rising again.

    We are expeced to accept this ?

    It's the BBC itself that decides how much this new empire-building effort pays for the limitless resources funded by the License Fee! How"very big" is the payment? It could be 5p per annum if the BBC so decided.

    Is no end possible to the self-serving expansion of this wasteful collossus?

    During many years living and working in the US I never heard the BBC mentioned, since returning to UK I find its US reporting too shallow to be worth following.

    But wow ! what an employment opportunity for the hacks!

  • Comment number 20.

    More work needs to be done to extract extra revenue from international visitors to the BBC website, particularly the News section.

  • Comment number 21.

    The BBC is grossly overstaffed, hardly a single programme from news to light entertainment is not hosted by at least two people. Obscene amounts of money are paid to some of the presenters, whose prescence is neither essential nor would be missed. Newscasters seem to be transported across the world at will to report on stories that are of no particular importance and are already being covered by other reporters. There seems to be, in almost every obscure country in the world , a correspondent described as a " BBC correspondent" , why are these people being retained? surely on the very odd occasion when it is required that news is sought in one of these countries, agency news could be used. The BBC seems to employ ethnic correspondents in almost every country in the world, why? BBC three and BBC four seem to serve no useful purpose showing only repeats and the most abyssmal rubbish , and why does the BBC subsidise its main rivals for sporting events by purchasing " Highlights ", this is poor business practice and should be stopped, it gives the rivals an instant bidding advantage knowing the BBC will be stupid enough to buy second hand footage.

  • Comment number 22.

    Where does the advertising money earned from the news website go to? (viewed from outside the uk)

    Could it be spent on allowing global video access to the BBC News Channel?

  • Comment number 23.

    It is a pity that, with such good use of the license fee budget:

    a) we dont get anything on the important big picture of the international trade agenda framework, as the fundamental legal framework for what Bush has today called 'free trade, and as the motor we are running on

    b) we dont get more real people reporting instead of a narrow band of privileged, largely private school people, not only with wearisome accents but also with their suss gut politics

  • Comment number 24.


    BBC went on what seemed like a perpetual junket across America with its WHYS program in the last year or two. That must have been expensive. Then they went on more junkets around the world. That added even more expense. And you want to know why you license fees are so high? When somebody wants to be all things to all people, they often wind up being nothing to anyone. That's where BBC is headed. Sometimes I think half of BBC's employees are in the US at any given time. Why are they always here? Are they looking for jobs and houses? Some seem to be on permanent assignment.

  • Comment number 25.

    ``The entire programme budget for BBC World News America comes from BBC Worldwide, not the licence fee. ''

    Seems a shame that the BBC will not use some of that additional revenue to supplement FCO funding for the World Service, which provides a true benefit to societies around the World but is being crippled by cut-backs to schedules and withdrawal from shortwave broadcasts.

    The USA has a plethora of news sources, some of them decent. Why not educate the nations instead of competing against Fox and CNN? Are egos at play here?

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm all for the expansion of BBC Worldwide. It's there to commerically exploit the assets of the BBC, and it does that to great effect.

    Although the net profit of BBCW is small at the moment, it is important to the BBC to provide an alternative revenue stream due to the uncertainty around the License fee (which I personally support).

    The USA is a huge (and mainly english speaking)well developed media market, which is well in need of the sort of television that the BBC can provide, and provide at a profit. (I lived in the USA for a while and can safely say I could live without watching certain networks ever again).

    As such BBCW would be mad to miss out on what is probably the best market for them.

  • Comment number 28.


    I applaud your efforts in the USA. My only concern is that commercial pressures brought on by advertising in time could skew the style and substance of BBC America. I hope there are safeguards such as chinese walls between the editors/reports and the commercial aspects of the project to ensure the quality we expect from the BBC.

  • Comment number 29.

    It would be interesting to see the audience figures for BBC America in comparison to other news services, and to have detail of the revenue that is raised from the service, but my main point would be that if this is a commercial venture then it should be paying the BBC a hefty sum for the use of its name. If it is not doing so then it is NOT a truly commercial enterprise but is a "shady" part of some BBC creativity.

    We can really do without "double standards" in broadcasting where some sleight of hand says that what you see never actually happened. If this American "branch" is so important then let it sink or swim on its own without the BBC branding to "help" it. Alternatively let license payers benefit from the additional revenue BBC America would pay for using the three initials in its name.

  • Comment number 30.

    28. bk9061

    One way to avoid such 'commercial pressures' on BBC America would be for the US Government to impose a tax on the ownership of a television that all US Citizen households would have to pay (say 400 USD annually) the total collected to be passed to the BBC to pay for BBC America television, an internet site, radio etc. This way the 'style and substance' of BBC America would be protected.

    Do you think either of the two presidential candidates would run with this? Discuss!

  • Comment number 31.

    "Of course we benefit tremendously from the global newsgathering apparatus of the BBC, and that apparatus is licence fee-funded. But BBC World News, one of the commercial channels on which our programme runs, also make a very big payment to BBC News each year to support that infrastructure."

    On an equal footing with American privately based news organizations, it would have to fund all of it. In this regard it is heavily subsidized.

    Were BBC to have to exist in all markets as a privately owned company or a publicly owned corporation, in its current form it would likely go broke overnight IMO. It is as laden with fat and unnecessary expense as any government bureaucracy anywhere. There is nothing the British public can do about it short of complaining to their MPs and demanding that if BBC doesn't change, their choice in MPs will. But the British nation of sheep won't even protest the handing over of its sovereignty to the EU so why should that jellyfish of public opinion have the spine to demand an end to waste at BBC?

  • Comment number 32.


    It must be great to feal wanted by your bloggers.


    I would like to see your idea put in practice (taxing Americans for BBC America) not so much as a source of revenue, but more more to get a kick out of BBC America announcing the new Amercian socialist sytem to them!

  • Comment number 33.


    It might surprise you to learn that Americans are already taxed to support BBC indirectly and have been for a long time. BBC's broadcasts on NPR and PBS are paid for in part by federal income tax. I don't know if BBC's contracts with PBS are direct but with NPR they are evidently through PRI. This is why I feel I have a right to criticize BBC to its face. I'm paying for the privelege of its dribble being broadcast directly to my home and many others across America. Given that we have BBC on the internet and should they have wished on shortwave the way they used to, this is an unnecessary redundancy imposed on us by our own government. I wouldn't mind getting rid of it just on general principle. How would you like to have to pay for Voice of America broadcast into your home?

  • Comment number 34.


    I would welcome it. I can see your opinion differs. I believe the standard of television especially the news that the BBC brings sets the bar high for other broadcasters. in comparison to general news (and television) I have seen outside of the UK, especially the US given the size of its media networks, I find to be lacking of depth, breadth, intellectual rigour, journalistic professionalism and not least integrity.

  • Comment number 35.


    You don't know what you are talking about. Compared to news coverage by PBS, BBC is a joke. There are far better alterntives on every subject of interest. For example, in Business news, we have CNBC and Bloomberg both of which far surpass anything BBC has to offer. PBS's nightly news coverage offers top experts of differing views with plenty of time to present their best arguments without rancor, a far cry from BBB's worthless man in the street opinions. Charlie Rose is IMO by far the best interviewer in the world. He's at the PHD level to Owen Bennet-Jones at the kindergarten level by comparison. And for coverage of the Middle East,t the Leon Charney Report blows everyone else away. Why? Because when Charney wants to know what is going on in Syria, Egypt, Israel, or other countries, he call their leaders, their top government officials, and their top military officials on the phone and they talk to him directly because they know each other and they like him. Meanwhile BBC's John Simpson skulks around the coffee houses in the back alleys of Damascus and Ramallah to get his stories. Of course BBC likes to be compared with the more mundane commercial mass media networks like CNN, Fox, ABC, and MSNBC. That's because it can't compete against C-Span, the Hitory Channel, the Discovery Channel, or the National Geographic Channel in their specialized areas either. BBC isn't in their league.

  • Comment number 36.

    If it's balance people are worried about, don't the BBC have an arabic-language news station aimed at the Middle East?

  • Comment number 37.

    ah Marcus, good to see your comments are as biased and self conflicting as ever!

    You've already judged a programme you haven't seen, you criticise PBS then tell us how good it is and you assume that non-Amercians are incabable of understanding America (whilst at the same time recognising that the BBC employs US reporters and has been in the country far longer than some of your own citizens.

    The biggest insult is however that you continue to bore everyone with these views of the BBC, on the BBC. Do PBS not have a nice blog for you to run free in?

  • Comment number 38.

    Ave MarcusAureliusII, some more, some less and we all have problems with factually inaccurate and/or deeply biased reporting in our mainstream media.

    For example, I'd say that we all have those well embedded individuals which pose as journalists as they act with greed and self interest.

    My applause to honourable exemptions, but there is no freedom in 'we'll never mention WTC 7' mainstream media of US.

    Do tell; 'is this real world or exercise'?

  • Comment number 39.


    so why is it you spend so much time on this site???

    why not try the fox website?

  • Comment number 40.


    My criticisms of PBS have nothing to do with the nightly news or Charlie Rose. They have to do with things like Bill Moyers, pandering to low level pop culture by presenting the likes of trash like Andre Rieu and Yanni on the airwaves, and the most unpardonable sin of all, what they did to Louis Rukeyser who saved them from oblivion by marshaling private industry to keep it afloat when Congress finally pulled a lot of funding out for its left wing Bill Moyers. I hold PBS in part responsible for his death.

    I'm sure Rome Hartman knows who Bill Moyers is. He's a extreme left wing reporter/pundit who broadcast on PBS until he found there was far more money to be made over at CBS. Then when he'd made his fortune, he went back to PBS to recontaminate their air waves with his junk. What does that have to to with BBC's incompetence as a journalist?

    I have pointed out many times the various techniques BBC uses to bias the news, sometimes so subtly that you really have to look sharply to find it and then sometimes blatantly as suits their whim. They have many arrows in their quiver and know how to use them.


    Why do I spend time here? Just to let BBC know that not everyone who is forced to subsidize them with their tax money thinks of them with adulation. They were once a proud and rightfully regarded first rate news organization. Now they are deeply flawed run by hacks who don't even know the difference between reporting and editorializing let alone seperate them.


    Believe whatever rubbish you like about your conspiracy theories about WTC-7. Based on my own investigation just out of pure coincidence since I had no knowledge or interest in it, it appears likely that the structure failed due to a long burning fire from diesel fuel pumped from storage tanks through broken pipes continuously feeding the fire. Eventually the steel on the lower floors softened resulting in catastrophic structural cascade failure. The structural engineers even know which column was the first to go resulting in the ultimate collapse. But if you want to beleive it was the US government, space aliens, or flying spaghetti monsters, go right ahead, be my guest.

  • Comment number 41.


    A few errors:
    Much of the federal funding for CPB doesn't go to specific programs. In addition, the combined federal, state and local funding for CPB is about 45%.

    Also, the BBC cooperates with a number of commercial broadcasters, either in funding the network (such as Animal Planet) or producing or selling programs. (And this doesn't count what they do with dramas...)

    Yes, others may cover certain stories better, but the BBC often brings news stories you don't find anywhere else. This isn't a matter of political bias- there are stories which would be the same if a liberal or a conservative reported them that you would only see on the BBC.

    Also, the US doesn't get much straight BBC. BBC World News isn't available in many areas. BBC America often shows reruns, and airs non-BBC programs. Local PBS stations are all independent, and programs and programming schedules differ. Some documentaries are close to first-run on various cable channels, and Doctor Who was only a few weeks behind here, but it's hard to get stuff as soon as the BBC does.

  • Comment number 42.

    As a side point, I think the BBC is underestimating America. A lot of people like things the BBC does. They don't need to "Americanize" them. This applies not just to BBC's News, though the News is a mnajor example. (I need to write a calm, but corrective letter to Doctor Who Magazine, in which a writer recently suggested an Americanized Who series...)

  • Comment number 43.

    Marcus, who's behind the BBC's misinformation and bias, and to what end?

    Presumably you lobby every other organisation that benefits from your tax money that you don't agree with?

    I do agree that some News coverage does present too much opinion when it shoudl be concentrating on fact, but my experience of US News is no better than the BBC in this regard (in fact usually worse - at least with BBC you are presented with a wider range of stories).

    Then when it comes to the editorial programmes the US seems a poor cousin to the Beeb.

  • Comment number 44.

    There is a real input vs output issue with the BBC's "cover all the bases" regime. We have these blogs and HYS for input but is there a place where license payers can make specific comments about all the BBC's output?

    These editorial pieces are mostly filled with self praise, self promotion, or navel contemplation of output, but nothing that distinguishes the BBC as the organ of free and unbiased news reporting. The Corporation continually falls between two stools as it cannot make up its mind just what it is - a public service or a publicly funded commercial service.

    As a license payer I expect more facility to make informal remarks about BBC output, its regimes, its often flagrant abuse of income (contracts, Olympic coverage etc as examples) and its failing standards. When the BBC has its home services in order then perhaps it can venture elsewhere but it has a lot of work to do on the former before that can happen.

  • Comment number 45.

    Eh MarcusAureliusII, you sound like one proud American, so why exactly would man of such quality left himself speechless and powerless, imprisoned by the leaders who are not elected but imposed on the people via high treason and fraud and mass murder and fear and terror crap.

    'The Pentagon program, which clearly violated US law against covert government propaganda, embedded more than 75 retired military officers -- most of them with financial ties to war contractors -- into the TV networks as "message surrogates" for the Bush Administration. To date, every major commercial TV network has failed to report this story, covering up their complicity and keeping the existence of this scandal from their audiences.'

    or this one>


  • Comment number 46.

    I haven't watched the recent Doctor Who episodes but past broadcasts looked like they were filmed in someone's basement with a camcorder and a budget of about twenty-eight dollars. It's as though a couple of people were riding in a car and one said I'd like to film a sci-fi series but I haven't got much money and while they were passing a junkyard, the other guy spotted an old policeman's telephone box and said, there's your time and space travel machine that can go anywere in the universe. And the first said I've got some old moving dollies we can pile all kinds of metal junk on and pull around with a string. Those will be our evil masters of the universe. And the other said, my aunt once tried to learn how to knit and got carried away. She made me a nine foot long scarf as a Christmas gift, that will be our hero's costume.

    The entirety of BBC seems to be put together that way. On a program about the growth of American power, an interviewer asks a Cuban government employee, an "historian" what he thinks of current American policy towards Cuba. Why, and ahat do you suppose his answer will be if he wants to keep his job? On a program about New York City, they play Gershwin's "An American in Paris" as background music. In an early post mortum of the Blair admistriation in politics UK four journalists sit around for half an hour discussing the war in Iraq and that Britain's government is not more user friendly as Blair had promised not mentioning the economy even once, an economy that was remarkable in Europe for flourishing in the first part of the first decade of the 21st century while the rest of Europe was stagnant. In an interview with Sir Christopher Meyers, Owen Bennet-Jones asks him "why are Americans so rich?" Jones answers that "they were there first" and Jones leaves this obviously wrong answer at that.

    Everyhting BBC does is put together with spit, scotch tape, chewing gum, and bailing wire. It's pathetic. They screw up everyting they touch. They don't even know the difference between an interview and a debate. They ruin every chance they get with any interviewee by debating them if they don't agree with them. They think this is hard hitting journalism when it is in fact incompetence. They have their own school of journalism which itself needs to go to school just to learn what journalism is. I don't even know if they are trainable at this point. If BBC is ever to return to its once earned reputation, it will need a top to bottom house cleaning and rebuilding from scratch. And to think I have to pay for this too.

  • Comment number 47.

    I have pointed out many times the various techniques BBC uses to bias the news, sometimes so subtly that you really have to look sharply to find it and then sometimes blatantly as suits their whim. They have many arrows in their quiver and know how to use them. #40 MarcusAureliusII

    I agree with a lot of what you say, but I also think your binoculars are too strong. Maybe you should step back some and see the broader picture. Everybody is biased to some degree, and most of us don't realize when we are.

  • Comment number 48.

    It isn't objectionable that a newspaper or radio or television station or network has an editorial opinion even if it is a government owned near monopoly. Of course in the case of BBC it isn't clear who determines what that opinion is but it often seems to me that it is the managers of the station while the government has nothing to say about it, it just stays away and keeps its hands off. What is objectionable is when the reporting of facts of the news and the station's opinions of them are inseparable. They are sometimes even in the same sentence. This is no longer journalism, it is propaganda. Anyone who understood how BBC conducts itself would be a fool to grant it an interview.

  • Comment number 49.

    Marcy, I'm yet to see any evidence that the BBC is any worse than any other media when it comes to confucing fact and opinion.

    In my view, it is's fine to present reaction to events within a news programme (so long as it's balanced) otherwise you end up with news for idiots. Maybe you're confusing reaction with opinion, the lines can after all become blurred, especially if you're wearing blinkers.

    You got one thing right (well done old thing, pat yourself on the back) the government does well to stay out of the BBC.

  • Comment number 50.

    18. At 2:50pm on 18 Oct 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    "A laughable assumption since most of those few who are even aware of BBC regard it as Anti-American and dismiss it as a tool of its socialist leaning pro-European management as well as an agent of the UK government."

    That says more about the company you keep than it does about the BBC.

    I know quite a few Americans who watch/read the BBC precisely for the "Anti-American" bias except they usually describe it as objectivity.

    Then again, that might just be part of the obvious liberal bias displayed by reality.

  • Comment number 51.

    What I would like to know is why the BBC wasted money putting up posters advertising Eastenders? I think we all already know what it is.


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