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BBC To Make Deep Cuts In Internet Services

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the inconvenient-for-the-commercial-sector dept.

The Almighty Buck 246

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that the BBC has yielded to critics of its aggressive expansion, and is planning to make sweeping cuts in spending on its Web site and other digital operations. Members of the Conservative Party, which is expected to make electoral gains at the expense of the governing Labor Party, have called for the BBC to be reined in and last year James Murdoch criticized the BBC for providing 'free news' on the internet, making it 'incredibly hard for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news.' Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, said 'After years of expansion of our services in the UK, we are proposing some reductions.' The BBC is proposing a 25 percent reduction in its spending on the Web, as well as the closure of several digital radio stations and a reduction in outlays on US television shows. The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union, which represents thousands of workers at the BBC, says that instead of appeasing critics, the proposed cuts could backfire. 'The BBC will not secure the politicians' favor with these proposals and nor will the corporation appease the commercial sector, which will see what the BBC is prepared to sacrifice and will pile on the pressure for more cuts,' says Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the union."

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BBC... or? (0, Offtopic)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343284)

My guess, these changes will B-B-Backfire!

Re:Profit... or Democracy? (4, Informative)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343370)

James Murdoch criticized the BBC for providing 'free news' on the internet, making it 'incredibly hard for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news.'

Little James Murdoch recently also said that the BBC is killing Democracy [google.com] . Funny, here I was thinking that the BBC is the only big media organization with the balls to stand up and support the democratic process, while the scholarly literature into corporate controlled media [google.com] showing exact opposite. Little Dr James Murdoch must be confused... or not?

Re:Profit... or Democracy? (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343522)

Having read this article [theaustralian.com.au] (from the link to google results you posted I find the following statements simply laughable:

Mr Murdoch slammed Radio 2's effort to woo younger listeners by hiring presenters on "salaries no commercial competitor could afford".

Bollocks. If a private company had half the country listening, it's advertising revenue would MORE THAN cover the salaries of a bunch of presenters.

"There is general agreement that the natural operation of the market is inadequate, and that a better outcome can be achieved through the wisdom and activity of governments and regulators."

"This creationist approach is similar to the industrial planning which went out of fashion in other sectors in the 1970s. It failed then. It's failing now."

Come again? I read: The natural operation of the market is inadequate, and a better outcome has been reached through the wisdom and activity of governments and regulators.
While the approach may not have worked in the 1970s, they clearly have a winning strategy right now, and it's leaving other private enterprises out in the cold.


Sorry, but when private enterprise can't do a good enough job, and a publically funded organisation start showing them up, it's time for them to reel back? Piss off mate. That's the EXACT opposite of market freedom. The guy is just annoyed that HIS company doesn't have half of Britain listening, and that the BBC are providing an excellent service from public funds for free to the public that pay for it - along with ALL THE ADVERTISERS.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think the days that the BBC wasn't in the black from it's own revenue are long history. Amazingly popular shows on it's TV side (Nature docos, popular shows like Top Gear) and their now massive DVD sales sure must line the bottom line of BBC quite well.

Re:Profit... or Democracy? (4, Insightful)

aix tom (902140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343830)

In other news, Mr. Sleedwidge Numbscull of Oxygen Bottling Inc. criticised farmers and the forestry commission for providing free oxygen in the atmosphere, making it 'incredibly hard for private oxygen bottlers to ask people to pay for their oxygen.'

There was always free news available in some form or another. Newspapers were able to make money by providing more value than the news that was freely available. If the quality of the free news increases, if you still want to make money, you have to find a new or at least improved business model.

Re:Profit... or Democracy? (3, Funny)

jambox (1015589) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343924)

By "democracy" he actually means "my Dad's ability to tell people who to vote for".

Re:Profit... or Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31344010)

How did James Murdoch get that job anyway? He's obviously not qualified to run a big public company.

drop proprietary software? (4, Funny)

metageek (466836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343314)

Everyone knows that you can cut costs substantially by switching to open source. This is a good time for them to get back to using open source and open standards: get rid of your flash-based, linux-unfriendly, iPlayer and stick with open source (theora, etc). They could also stop using word/excel etc and move to open office... I bet the savings on licence costs would be large!

Re:drop proprietary software? (5, Informative)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343378)

BBC have developed Dirac codec for that. It's open source and royalty free. It's a very good codec, it has reached a stable version and is soon to be standardised as VC-2, unlike theora.

Re:drop proprietary software? (1)

metageek (466836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343692)

thy did and are no longer using it...

Re:drop proprietary software? (2, Informative)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343436)

I gather they're pretty open source in the backend already. They're historically a Solaris house, but a lot of their web presence is Linux, and about half the Perl programmers in London seem to work for the BBC.

Re:drop proprietary software? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343470)

Nonsense. Yet another armchair/basement nerd with no experience of how tech works in the real world. Move 35,000 employees to Open Office overnight? What about all the retraining costs? Get real.

Theora is incredibly inefficient compared to h264 encoding. The eventual transit costs (because of the bitrate increase necessary to maintain quality) would dwarf the licensing costs.

Your argument would only save money because by removing content restrictions, 80% of the content would have to disappear from the iPlayer - rendering it much less useful and popular in the first place.

Re:drop proprietary software? (1)

metageek (466836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343770)

Nonsense. Yet another armchair/basement nerd with no experience of how tech works in the real world.

Of course, you don't know what you're saying... I could even be a CFO of a company who did that, couldn't I?

I remember hearing in a conference back in 2001 from an executive of a biotech company who had cut down hundreds of thousands dolars license costs per year by switching from Sun to Linux servers (and Oracle to MySQL). There is money to be made in switching from proprietary to open! Even if you have to invest some in retraining (you recover it quickly!).

Theora is incredibly inefficient compared to h264 encoding.

I won't get dragged into discussing theora vs. h264. All the arguments have been posted to /. many times... And as a previous poster noted, BBC themselves have in the past invested in open codecs (Dirac)...

Re:drop proprietary software? (3, Informative)

sqldr (838964) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343494)

The problem is DRM. A lot of BBC programs are made in conjunction with other companies, etc. "Life" was made with the discovery channel (apparently Oprah Winfrey narrates the US/Discovery version.. jesus.. they replaced a paleontologist with a chat show host. What the hell was wrong with Attenborough?).

Part of the licensing therefore involves the Discovery channel enforcing DRM on the BBC, which means open-source is out. The alternative is to stop working with Discovery which would mean half the budget. Decisions, decisions.

Re:drop proprietary software? (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343584)

There was no DRM on the BBC iPlayer's streams of "Life", short of checking the IP address of the computer requesting the playlist. Once the computer has the playlist, it doesn't matter where it is in the world - it could stream the programme just fine. Heck, a standard Flash player using the FLVPlayback component can play the BBC's RTMP streams perfectly.

Re:drop proprietary software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343802)

Is the playlist file easy to find? I've been looking for a way to get iPlayer when I'm outside of the UK. It might be easier for my brother to send me that than to set up a proxy on his machine.

Re:drop proprietary software? (2, Informative)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344148)

Not any more:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/24/iplayer_xbmc_adobe_swf_verification/ [theregister.co.uk]

Note, however, the familiar consequence of this sort of strategy:

"Ironically, third party utilities that download files (which presumably the verification is there to prevent) still work fine. It is possible that this move will actually increase the occurrence of downloading files which will not be time limited, or torrenting of copyrighted material."

Re:drop proprietary software? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344164)

yeh they could use adacity too :-)))))))

Drop proprietary video? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344174)

They could save on bandwidth by replacing their restrictive video feeds with torrent servers, and live feeds with streaming torrents.

News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343324)

James Murdoch can get bent. The BBC News service is not free. It's provided by the license fee so it is clearly not free - I've already pay for it. I like the BBC News and would rather that than have to pay for the (more) biased reporting from any of his stable of rags.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343618)

Is it possible for a UK resident to get the BBC in any form without any license fee, tax, etc.? --A curious guy across the Atlantic

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

xorsyst (1279232) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343746)

You only require a license to watch live TV. If you have no TV set, and use iplayer in regular (non-live) mode, then I believe you are ok.

http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/about_iplayer/tvlicence [bbc.co.uk]

you are also free to use the radio stations, website, etc. without a license.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343752)

Is it possible for a UK resident to get the BBC in any form without any license fee, tax, etc.? --A curious guy across the Atlantic

if you have a TV or a PC with a TV card, you pay.

you can get access to the web stuff without a license I believe but you have to not own a television.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343760)

Is it possible for a UK resident to get the BBC in any form without any license fee, tax, etc.? --A curious guy across the Atlantic

The license fee is for TV only. I can get BBC radio & BBC online services without having to pay the license fee. The only exception is that if I want to watch live streams of events on the BBC website I'd technically need to pay the license fee. Hope that clears things up.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343782)

Yes. You can get BBC Radio for free, and everything on the website except for the live video streams.

The only thing you have to pay the licence fee for is broadcast TV including broadcast TV streamed on the internet, but you also have to pay the licence to the BBC to watch broadcast TV from anyone else, such as ITV, Channel 4, Sky etc.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

mrt_2394871 (1174545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343880)

You must pay for a TV licence if you watch live TV (or record a broadcast). So, you can use the BBC iplayer (a "catch-up over the Internet" service), as long as its not a live stream.

Of course you can also listen to any of the 10 national radio stations (Radios 1 - 7, 1xtra, 5live extra and the Asian network) or numerous local stations, or browse the website.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (2, Informative)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343888)

Is it possible for a UK resident to get the BBC in any form without any license fee, tax, etc.? --A curious guy across the Atlantic

Yes. Once you reach 75 you don't need to pay. Also if you don't watch live content (i.e you use iPlayer), you don't need to pay. Nobody has ever paid for listening to the radio stations. Basically the licence is to pay for reception of live TV.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

uncle slacky (1125953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343956)

There used to be a radio licence until the late 50s/early 60s I think (i.e. around the time a majority of homes had at least one TV).

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344020)

Apparently, although it would be very unusual. The license covers the apparatus to receive any broadcasts as they are transmitted, including commercial, but I understand that if you don't have a TV and only listen to radio or watch on iPlayer then you don't need a license.

I'm not sure how relevant that is, though. Even if it were funded through taxes that applied to everybody, I still think there's a place for public service broadcasting. It's the nature of tax that you have to pay for something that you might not want to (otherwise there'd be no reason for it to be done through taxation). And I think there are things that public service broadcasting does that commercial can't (or at least doesn't) which serves a social benefit. Minority interest stuff that wouldn't attract funding (such as in-depth investigative journalism), stuff that's likely to hack off potential advertisers (such as in-depth investigative journalism, controversial programming such as the airing of Jerry Springer: The Opera), and so on. I think part of the problem the BBC has is that it's lost sight of that and is going after audience share. If it gets massive audiences then it's clearly treading on commercial's toes (and treading very effectively, as Radio 2's audience share shows). The place where it's distinctive, and earns the license fee, is likely to attract a smaller market share.

That is essentially how its critics are attacking. If something the BBC does has mass-market appeal they cry "unfair competition" and if it doesn't they cry "waste of license-payer's money". In the former case they have a point (sadly, because I would miss advertisement-free programming). In the latter case I don't think they do, because that seems to me to be exactly what the BBC and the license fee are for. Unfortunately, it's the minority stuff that they're cutting, and I think that will backfire. If they eliminate what makes them distinctive then it becomes a lot harder for them to justify the license fee.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (3, Informative)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344166)

As other replies have already said, you only need a TV licence if you watch or record live TV on any device. If you have no TV and you only use iPlayer to watch TV after its already happened technically you don't need a TV licence.

However, it's actually pretty difficult to convince the authorities that you don't watch or record live TV. You're in for a world of harassment if you don't have a TV licence. The BBC just can't cope with the concept that there are people in the World who do not watch telly.

Re:News on the BBC is not free (if you live in UK) (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343748)

No doubt! If the BBC revenues were increased due to monetization of internet publishing, I doubt we'd be having this discussion today. Try another business model folks, it is the internet, deal with it!

Stupidest move, ever (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343332)

The BBC has a pretty good web presence. I certainly prefer BBC News, Democracy Live [bbc.co.uk] and the other services they provide to anything that is tainted by Rupert Murdoch. Just because Murdoch doesn't understand the web and has no sense to realise that, quality news sources like the BBC shouldn't just provide a more shitty service to make Murdoch lose less money.

In this case, a public service is providing great service and if you can't compete with that, instead of whining maybe you should go bankrupt.

Re:Stupidest move, ever (1)

Mabbo (1337229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343372)

if you can't compete with that, instead of whining maybe you should go bankrupt.

Well, now I know what my wildest dreams look like.

Re:Stupidest move, ever (2, Insightful)

halowolf (692775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343384)

Well Rupert could always try just making something better than what BBC offers. A crazy concept I know...

Re:Stupidest move, ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343498)

I certainly prefer BBC News, Democracy Live and the other services they provide to anything that is tainted by Rupert Murdoch.

So instead you prefer services tainted by the BBC's left-wing liberal bias [thisislondon.co.uk] ?

Re:Stupidest move, ever (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343622)

Or perhaps the BBC's right-wing [independent.co.uk] bias [craigmurray.org.uk] ?

The BBC is everyone's scape goat; they're left wing, they're right wing, they're a government mouthpiece, they're too critical of the government, they spend too much on "high-brow elitist" programming, they're dumbing down too much, they waste too much money on sports rights, they don't have enough decent sports coverage. You name it, someone will be accusing the BBC of it.

Re:Stupidest move, ever (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343846)

You name it, someone will be accusing the BBC of it.

However the BBC themselves have admitted to a left wing bias [timesonline.co.uk] .

Re:Stupidest move, ever (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343868)

Exactly. They seem to obey a Newton's third law of complaints. To me that looks like they're getting it about right.

Their website does suck though. It's picture heavy, badly structured and the search is diabolical.

Re:Stupidest move, ever (1)

ndixon (184723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343954)

So instead you prefer services tainted by the BBC's left-wing liberal bias [thisislondon.co.uk] ?

If you're right-wing, then even centrists will appear to have a left-wing bias. That's why the phrase crops us so much in the Daily Mail, Express, Sun, Times, Telegraph, ...

To the raving nut-jobs in the UKIP, BNP and beyond, practically everyone looks left-wing and liberal.

Re:Stupidest move, ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31344170)

And by the same token if you're a left wing raving nut job everyone else will appear to be right wing.

In spite of that the BNP are a left wing party. They're basically socialists that are racist. Socialism is left wing but you get racists on both sides.

Re:Stupidest move, ever (2, Insightful)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344002)

The BBC has a pretty good web presence. I certainly prefer BBC News, Democracy Live [bbc.co.uk] and the other services they provide to anything that is tainted by Rupert Murdoch. Just because Murdoch doesn't understand the web and has no sense to realise that, quality news sources like the BBC shouldn't just provide a more shitty service to make Murdoch lose less money.

In this case, a public service is providing great service and if you can't compete with that, instead of whining maybe you should go bankrupt.

I don't disagree with anything you've said. I think what Murdoch is saying is stupid. I've seen people point out here previously, however, that Murdoch himself is not stupid. He might just be an old media dinosaur in this case but I wouldn't be so sure. He holds vast swing in UK politics and what he's basically emitting are none-too-subtly coded messages that he wants something done about the BBC. By being so noisy about how it's impossible to make money in ways he 'ought' to be able to he's also spreading the meme that pay-to-access information is better, that it's a business model that needs protecting explicitly, that the BBC is bigger than people want. He's working towards a political climate in which it will be more acceptable / desirable for the next government to attempt to constrain the BBC and "regulate the internet".

It would probably be good for "the people" if Rupert Murdoch were simply falling behind the times and losing his control. On the other hand, if this is just a move to stall changes in society / industry and put roadblocks in the way of competition then I'm somewhat worried he'll succeed (temporarily) and cause harm overall.

I will happily give BBC more of my money... (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343374)

If they would just start selling full episodes of Top Gear (amongst others) over here in the states. My British counterparts get to see full one-hour episodes of Top Gear when they are in the UK. But here in the US I cannot have that from the BBC, for any amount of money. BBC America shows me the butchered 40-minute episodes. Sure, I can accept that they need to sell advertising space here. But why can't they sell the full episodes on DVD here? If I buy the BBC America DVDs I get the same 40-minute episodes that they show on TV here. And BBC UK won't sell me the regular DVDs - they are region encoded (and PAL) but that doesn't matter since they won't sell them to me anyways.

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343424)

You're talking about a different company. BBC America is not the BBC.

Also, doesn't America have some law which states programs have to finish on the hour and half hour?

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343564)

You're talking about a different company. BBC America is not the BBC.

Correct. And Top Gear (and most of the programming on BBC America) is a BBC program that is carried by BBC America. BBC needs money and I am offering them some of mine if they will sell me the same DVDs that they are selling in the UK.

Also, doesn't America have some law which states programs have to finish on the hour and half hour?

No such law that I am aware of. I see unusual start/end times on cable fairly often.

However that is not relevant to what I am seeking. I am offering to pay BBC directly for DVDs that they sell in the UK. If you release something on DVD there is no reason why it needs to be the identical product to what was shown in TV.

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31344192)

BBC needs money and I am offering them some of mine if they will sell me the same DVDs that they are selling in the UK.

Can't you just order it from Amazon.co.uk?

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (1)

SurlyJest (1044344) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343706)

No such law - just custom, nearly universally observed, but there are exceptions.

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343426)

As of the most recent season, Top Gear is now shot on HD. So hopefully there will be a Blu-ray release, avoiding PAL/NTSC issues.

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (5, Funny)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343552)

If they would just start selling full episodes of Top Gear (amongst others) over here in the states...
--
In 2009 we confirmed yet again that indeed you can buy everything in New York City.

Everything but Top Gear, it seems...

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343944)

Top Gear? WTF is that? A program recommend the best bongs? Where to get the best tooting straws? Gee, you Europeans really are moral degenerates.

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31344008)

I believe a worldwide version of the iPlayer is coming soon.

Amen and (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344018)

Even though they list the older seasons in their catalog, they are never available through Netflix. What, do they only have one copy of each?

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (1)

qc_dk (734452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344038)

This is one of my beefs with copyright law as it is implemented today. I want to be able to see the REAL bbc channels(to watch top gear, real british news, british comedy etc.) and I want to see the real French channels (to watch their talk shows). But because I live in Denmark that is not possible. No amount of money would make it possible. It is technically feasible, because I can receive the same satellites as the UK. But they will not sell me the decoding equipment.

The reason is that they are not allowed to by their content providers. So instead I can get some watered-down international versions, or I can get it "free" on the Internet. I cannot feel sympathy for the plight of the big content providers(murdoch et al.) when they won't even take my money.

Re:I will happily give BBC more of my money... (4, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344180)

I want to be able to see the REAL bbc channels(to watch top gear, real british news, british comedy etc.) and I want to see the real French channels (to watch their talk shows). But because I live in Denmark that is not possible. No amount of money would make it possible. It is technically feasible, because I can receive the same satellites as the UK. But they will not sell me the decoding equipment.

A Freesat decoder box costs about £50. Buy one, have it shipped to Denmark, hook it up, done. It's not encrypted, you don't need a subscription, what's the problem?

Sound familiar? (5, Insightful)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343382)

"Your actions don't suit my business model-- stop it." Now where have we heard this before?

Re:Sound familiar? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343574)

"Your actions don't suit my business model-- stop it." Now where have we heard this before?

MIA.... No... CIA.... perhaps. Goddamit, it's right here on the tip of my tongue...

Fuck you Rupert (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343392)

Murdoch has also been making a lot of noise about the Australian broacasting commission's (ABC) "stealing" his audience. The state sponsered TV channels in Oz are the only one's left with any real journalists, this prick won't be satisfied until he removes every last skeric of independence.

Re:Fuck you Rupert (4, Insightful)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343598)

Murdoch is a prime example of the type of scumbag that is strangling mankind. He and his ilk deserve the firing squad for all of the lives that they have ruined because of their personal greed.

Re:Fuck you Rupert (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344108)

When Murdoch says shit, politicians jump on the shovel. Here is a recent example [theage.com.au] of how this arsehole does bussiness.

The meat from the (non-Murdoch) link...

"Last week Mr Smith [shadow communications minister] gave qualified support to the hand-out, saying the opposition acknowledged financial support for the networks was warranted during the transition to digital television. But on Tuesday, after the meeting with Mr Murdoch, Mr Abbott [opposition leader] blasted the hand-out as ''dodgy'' and an election-year bribe to free-to-air networks."

Between my OP above and this post I watched the Larry Flint doco The right to be left alone [youtube.com] on ABC. This is the second time in the last few years I have seen the doco on state sponsred TV, it's an excellent doco that no commercial station here would play because of the way Flynt highlights their bullshit. To quote Flynt - "I watch the mainstream news to see what they leave out....The problem with the MSM is it's corporate...The models they put in front of the camera have to tow the corporate line".

Re:Fuck you Rupert (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343620)

The state sponsered TV channels in Oz are the only one's left with any real journalists, this prick won't be satisfied until he removes every last skeric of independence.

Absolutely. If I watch TV news (which I admit I rarely do) I will pick ABC news, SBS news (It's more world focused) and shy of those two, I have found the German News (DW News Hour) to be amazingly informative.

Re:Fuck you Rupert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343704)

Couldn't agree more.

His "free news" part is hilariously stupid too, it is illegal for BBC to make people in the UK pay for news since they already do through TV licence. (or iPlayer, or anything else)
And they aren't stupid enough to force people outside of the UK to pay for things online either, least of all for news. (at least, i'd like to think so)

Until online payment systems become simple for any idiot to use, nobody is going to go for it. People are scared of the big world wide web as it is, paying for things on it? "ARE YOU CRAZY, THE DIGITAL HACKERS WILL STEAL MY BABY!"

Re:Fuck you Rupert (2, Funny)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343814)

Hackers can turn your home computer into a bomb... [geeksaresexy.net]
 
... & blow your family to smithereens!

Re:Fuck you Rupert (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343828)

He's old; if we're lucky he won't be working to ruin the world in the name of whatever he stands for much longer.

Though we would have to be insanelly lucky to get better successors in his place...

Quick ! Call the waambulance for Murdoch (2, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343912)

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.
--Heinlein.

Yeah Heinlein was a crank but he is spot on in that quote.

Since when is it the obligation of the taxpayers to support Murdoch if he can't even provide himself with a viable business model? Corporate welfare beggars like Murdoch posing as businessmen really waste a lot of our resources and just seem to have no other purpose than to try to make things suck as much as they can.

I bet the fight against open standards may be at the bottom and that the real goal is getting at and stopping Dirac. It's a good codec and royalty-free.

this has been and will continue to be done wrong (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343398)

(1) I applaud the decision to reduce expenditure on US television shows. Some of them are brilliant, but it is not really the BBC's place to broadcast them.

(2) The BBC needs to go back to a principle of quality over quantity. Output from such channels as BBC Three would not pass for a mediocre school production. "Hole in the Wall" might not pretend to be anything but light entertainment, but it is not adding to the knowledge or the culture of Britain. Digital radio is in general a failure, and it is good that they have tacitly acknowledged this. Meanwhile, the BBC News Internet site is excellent, and should not be the first choice for cuts despite evident political pressure for those who do not like the balance provided by the BBC.

(3) The BBC needs to stop privatising or outsourcing its research and development, so it can go back to long-term efforts in improving the state-of-the-art in broadcasting. It needs to go back to a technical-driven culture: for example, it needs to cooperate in efforts to prevent pollution to the shortwave spectrum, and it needs to reverse all efforts to introduce Digital Restrictions Management. We've already paid for what you produce, and you are our public broadcasting service: you don't get to dictate how we enjoy your productions.

Re:this has been and will continue to be done wron (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343596)

I'd like some clarification from the BBC or uk.gov on point 1 - I agree with your (implicit) argument against the BBC importing US programmes, but I worry that it'll affect joint BBC/US productions. Recently I've seen a (IMHO) positive trend for the BBC and HBO to work on co-productions - "Rome", for example, was the BBC and HBO (and an Italian broadcaster); "Five Days" was also the BBC and HBO.

BBC 3 does have some good programming. I've never seen "Hole in the Wall", but can imagine just how dreadful it is. That shouldn't distract from the good work the channel does, and I'm also concerned that UK TV is going to hand teenage programming in its entirety over to Channel 4. Don't get me wrong, Channel 4 is good, but Britain - even its teenaged section - deserve choice. And freedom from advertising is surely something we should be pushing to teenagers?

Actually, scratch that last paragraph. I've just checked today's listings for BBC 3 and it's unremitting shite. The only high point is a programme called "Family Guy", which (a) disproves my argument against importing US programmes, and (b) could easily be broadcast on some other channel. (And I'll bet Stewie Griffin's last diaper that both episodes are repeats...)

Re:this has been and will continue to be done wron (2, Insightful)

who knows my name (1247824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343884)

BBC3 is really a sandbox for new programmes they would have only ever previously piloted on BBC2. Hence there is a lot of rubbish, but also a few real gems that now are mostly on BBC2. I don't know if it is a worthwhile use of the license fee or not, but some of my favourite comedy programmes in years have started out on BBC3. BBC4 is the Radio4 of TV, and I guess it has a very specific target audience, but the programming is generally good. Obviously both have a lot of repeats too, which most of the time makes them not worth watching.

Re:this has been and will continue to be done wron (1)

chappers1 (1715080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344172)

The imports refer to "acquisitions" rather than "co-productions".
Simply put, an acquisition is an "off the shelf" series or programme made and sold by an another broadcaster or production company. A co-production has editorial input from all companies funding it.

The BBC will likely look to increase the number of such co-productions as they reduce costs (shared between broadcasters) whilst retaining control over the look and feel of the programme.

Re:this has been and will continue to be done wron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31344178)

BBC Three's operating cost is a third of that for the WHOLE of the Channel 4 group. BBC Three wastes a lot of money.

Labour Party (1)

mkavanagh2 (776662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343400)

There's no Labor Party in the UK. Though I've got to hand it to the USA - you fellows are really taking this cultural imperialism thing to the next level!

Re:Labour Party (2, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343442)

There's no "politicians' favor" either. If you're going to lift a quote out of a UK newspaper, at least have the decency to leave the spelling as it is, thanks.

Re:Labour Party (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343450)

The word is the same, it's just a variant spelling. You'd figure the people who invented the language would know that. Cultural imperialism? Huh?

Re:Labour Party (1)

mkavanagh2 (776662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343488)

It's not just a word (and it's not an M&S word, either). It's a component of a proper noun.

Re:Labour Party (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343500)

The word is the same, it's just a variant spelling.

You don't apply variant spelling to proper nouns.

Re:Labour Party (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343580)

Not true :-)

In Australia, the Labor Party is there to (supposedly) advocate for the labour workforce. ie. In Aust, the political party is "Labor" even though the word is spelt "labour." At the time of the founding of the party, they viewed this spelling as progressive and throwing off old conventions.

That was before people started talking of US imperialism (the Brits were the imperialists then ;-)

Re:Labour Party (2, Insightful)

chappers1 (1715080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343862)

So the proper noun for the Australian political party is "Labor Party". If it was quoted here as "Labour Party" it would be a misspelling.

Re:Labour Party (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344092)

Sure you do. Someone called "William/Bill" in English is called "Guillaume" in French. Someone called "Lucian" in English is called "Lucien" in France and "Luciano" in Italy. And so on.

If they need money... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343416)

... maybe its time they sue the company that keeps accidentally dropping pianos on their test track.

Great opportunity to drop obsolete technology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343434)

DRM bye bye?

But i pay for my bbc news (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343444)

I pay my licence fee, aka subscription, for the BBC. I get my news from the BBC website. I do not want to pay Murdoch for his news as his news is rubbish. i think it is totally wrong to try to restrain the BBC. Especially on the internet where the future is.

Now there's a Surprise (2, Insightful)

BBadhedgehog (955308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343482)

So the Empire of Murdoch can't emtirely dominate in the UK due to the BBC

So The Sun, the UK's most popular paper and owned by the Empie of Murdoch, changes its support from Labour to the Conservatives

And the BBC's board back down.

Abso-bloody-lutely marvellous. Now we can have news of the quality and independence served to the US by Fox.

Silly Brits (1)

popo (107611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343490)

What part of "bread and circuses" do they not understand. Cutting pensions and television at the same time, well that's the bread AND the circus.

whence cometh this God-given right to make us pay? (5, Insightful)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343492)

last year James Murdoch criticized the BBC for providing 'free news' on the internet, making it 'incredibly hard for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news.'

So where does Murdoch's mythical right to extract money from the public come from? Or, more to the point, Murdoch's right to prevent anyone from competing with services he might prefer we pay for?

Especially when the public have already paid for the news to be gathered, and the BBC are only making available (at modest extra cost to the BBC) the information they have already been paid to gather - to the people who paid for it (even if it is also available to non-licence payers).

Isn't it the BBC's mission to inform and entertain? And why not do that via the internet as well as the airwaves?

It could be good (1)

whencanistop (1224156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343514)

Objectively, you could look at this a different way. If the BBC stops publishing re-engineered press releases and left that to the newspapers and focused solely on making sure that they produced insightful, detailed analysis pieces then this will bring them nothing but benefit. They will be providing the service that we (in the UK) pay for, instead of providing free advertising to a company that wants to tell the world that they've released a new product. Plus the repackaged press releases and Associated News/Reuters content tends to not get many people looking at it after day 2. Big spike in people looking at it when it is new, little long tail. The detailed analysis pieces will be worthwhile for a long time yet.

Plus this still has to be approved by the BBC Trust. They can reject it if they don't see it as a useful way of spending the tax payers money. It's the equivalent of me putting a business plan into my boss on how to make better use of my time.

I love the BBC. (3, Insightful)

timepilot (116247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343554)

If American commercial media had anything as good as the quality of BBC News (Radio, TV or online) I would listen, watch and read it, and even put up with commercials.

I actively avoid the complete and utter crap Murdoch's medial outlets spew out.

Murdoch, if you want to make money, sell a quality product.

The BBC reflects very well on Britain. My very positive view of the country is due at least in part to the programming I've received via the BBC. Curtailing that programming would have unfortunate results far outweighing any potential benefit to Murdoch's bottom line.

Re:I love the BBC. (2, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343772)

You know what? for Top Gear, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval, etc, and the musical modernness of BBC radio (compared to German state-owned radio) alone they are a justified and good thing.

In Germany I can’t even imagine the state-owned TV stations producing something as cool.

Murdoch ain't in the news business (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343568)

He sells advertising. The news is just bait to get people to buy.

Angles (5, Insightful)

sn0wdrag0n (1750796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343578)

There appear to be a few angles here:

The idea that the BBC 'giving' news away is undermining 'paying' for news. So far as I am aware, no major news site charges for content, or at least not for major headline articles less than 2 days old. If News Corp truly thinks that by eliminating the BBC's presence they can begin to shape market expectations of people 'paying' for news, I think they need take a deeper look at the nature of the Web itself. Duplication and propagation are in its very nature, and the idea that alternative, free-to-view sources will not spring up (or current ones have their traffic increased), or that their 'pay for' articles won't be reposted across blogs and forums within minutes of appearing on their sites is naieve in the least. The music and movie industries have enough trouble keeping enormous amounts of music and movie files flying about the place - how on earth do they think they will stop something that can be duplicated with two keyboard shortcuts? I suppose this will begin the search for a 'copy/paste disabled browser' or somesuch tool - then I guess it really will be screenshot or it didn't happen.

It begs the question, how many people pay for news now? As an example, quick google search will show in 2005 the NYT had 1.1 million subscribers, the Sunday paper 1.7 in 2005. By charging for online access, do we really expect a significant increase in the new combined digital/paper subscribers total? I would submit if you're not paying for news now, and you didn't when paper was the only format, you're unlikely to start now.

It also belies something a little more sinister. Does this mean that all 'government corporations' (a type of entity in growing popularity, seemingly) are subject to supervision of Corporate interests? The BBC was and has always been free to its many listeners and, later, readers - it was a public institution set up to provide a service, a World Service even. Could you imagine telling someone in Britain in the mid-20th Century that, unfortunately, the BBC was going to have to curtail its activities because some multinational corporation was finding it too hard to charge you for listening to its private media on your own radio set? Of course, we can argue that the BBC is government media just like News Corp is private media, but any discerning reader understands that bias is part of reporting intentionally or not. In any case, I'd like my bias free, as in beer, thank you, and goodnight.

I doubt it will do much (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343616)

It is not sea of content I usually like to see in BBC website (it's nice touch though), it is the news - unspoiled, objective, rich with context news with additional references where to look for more information. I rather doubt that -25% will do wonders like making suddenly BBC to loose their integrity and turning all BBC readership to commercial news feeds.

In overall, someone (or some forces) seems like want to gain more control over BBC - or make it so that it feels vulnerable, so it doesn't get into the way for some yet unknown motions.

smoke and mirrors (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343684)

These cuts are nothing more than looking to be doing something, while actually not doing much. They are simply trimming back some of the dead wood.

However, in doing so they are completely missing the point of their remit. They are supposed to produce high-quality programming, and that includes minority programming that commercial broadcasters wouldn't, or couldn't, touch. Radio 6 completely falls within this remit -- Radio 1 however, most surely does not. Radio 1 is a commercial channel, in everything but name. Sure, there's no overt adverts on it, but there's plenty of covert ones -- not the least of which is the music itself, all commercial products, and products from a very evil industry. Radio 6 played music from unsigned bands, so I guess there's not so much payola, hence it's the channel that's cut.

BBC3 and BBC4 are worthless channels and could go easily. BBC3 is braindead crap. It's targeted at a youth audience for purely commercial reasons -- and to add insult to injury, most of the youths watching it do not even pay the TV licence.

BBC4 contains programmes that would have naturally been on BBC2. When 4 was created they harvested off the (slightly more) intelligent shows, and filled the gaps in the BBC2 schedule with reality crap, make-over shows, cooking shows, antiques shows -- all riddled with product placement, which they can get away with as it's independent producers that are getting the kick-backs from promoting the products.

BBC News is the largest news organization in the world. Ignoring its inherent government progaganda and bias for the moment, for all the journalists it employs, for all the offices all over the world, it very, very, very rarely ever breaks an exclusive story. Much of the news is regurgitated press releases -- as well as again, lots of product placement. Usually, any exclusive stories come from the result of documentary researchers working for shows such as Panorama, and not from the news dept.

The BBC's new multi-million Pacific Quay HQ is state-of-the-art, with all the latest tech and a fantastic studio. But all it does is host tabloid-style regional news, cheap game show "The Weakest Link", and a few other unscripted talent and variety shows.

The quality of the BBC's production crew seems to have diminished dramatically over the past few years. There's barely a single show that has a camera set at the correct exposure. The editing is universally horrific across all BBC shows.

It's a vastly bloated, and increasingly dumbed-down organization. The name "Mark Thompson" seems only to be synonymous with failure, he's inexpertly presided over the worst period in the corporation's history. These cuts are superficial, there's considerably more changes need to be made to improve the quality of the BBC.

The BBC is NOT "free news". (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343714)

People pay for it trough their taxes. It’s the nation’s homegrown/self-owned news service.
Murdoch is just a greedy dick who “invests” in political party sock puppets.

Re:The BBC is NOT "free news". (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343804)

People pay for it trough their taxes.

No we do not, we pay for it through the TV licence fee. That may well have every appearance of being a tax, but it is not.

Good (4, Funny)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343742)

it's about time, godless commies... Now, switch over to FOX news for the REAL story

it's not hard to ask (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343778)

"incredibly hard for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news."

it's not hard to ask i just don't want your news.

i want to pay my tv license and have an organisation that tells me what's going on and not what they think sells papers.

I cant wait for a reduction ... (4, Funny)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343798)

I can't wait for a reduction in our TV licenses, due to all this money the BBC will now be saving!

Ditch the super-stars (2)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31343936)

I vaguelly remember an article in the newspaper that listed the BBC employee costs. A significant part of those was in paying "super-stars" (those entertainers that get payed millions of pounds per-year).

In a country like the UK with a long tradition of great humourists, paying a single comedian like Johnathan Ross 18 million pounds a year to host a couple of talk-shows is incredibly bad value for money.

Just for comparisson sake, the budget of BBC Radio 6 Music (which they're also planning on closing) is half as much. That's 24h/day, 7 days a weak, 52 weeks a year of music for half the price of maybe 10h/week of programming with Johnathan Ross. Measured in in hours-of-entertainment/pound terms that means that Johnathan Ross costs almost 34x more than BBC Radio 6 Music (and he's definetly not 34 times better).

Ditch that guy and couple more like him and replace them with new blood and you'll probably be able to cover the 110 million pounds that the BBC Internet operations cost. It will even have the nice side effect of enhancing even more the BBC's work in developing and promoting new talents in the UK.

Re:Ditch the super-stars (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344146)

so compared to Leno et all Ross is cheap and if teh UK pays so well why did the first choice for the new Dr Who decide that Stargate Universe was a better offer. of course no one mentions how much Murdoch's editors and star columists like Jan Moir on papers get paid

they plan to cut one of the best internet radios (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31343942)

Save 6music!

http://www.petition.fm/petitions/6musicasiannet/1000/

www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=278123313911

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/mar/02/bbc-protests-change-mind-6music

Murdoch (3, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344064)

Politics is Murdoch's bread and butter. As far as political interference goes, that old traitor Rupert (and I call him a traitor, because he renounced his Australian citizenship for commercial reasons) would sell his mother for a Mars Bar, and would say and do anything to advance his own interests.

This sneak-attack on the BBC's online news operation will go down in history as one of the nastiest, shittiest commercial and political power plays in history. This is a classic case of the evils of allowing people like Rupert Murdoch to become as powerful as he has -- he has effectively kneecapped one of the world's greatest news organisations, so he can force people to pay for his filthy, biased low-grade garbage (optimistically called "news").

Murdoch is threatening to turn the world into a supersized version of the US; with few large independent voices, and a news market dominated by undemocratic, fascistic shit like FOX News. And with a for-profit, partisan, low-quality mass media that shills for its corporate masters, rather than doing its job, we are talking about a basic and dire threat to our society.

The Murdochs are a walking disaster area for our democracy, and not enough is being done to challenge them and their minions. Old Rupert himself is a very old man, and undoubtedly his appointment with Old Nick is imminent; however that's not to say that his sons won't follow in his footsteps.

So, you cant provide free services is that it. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344104)

i thought the 'free market' capitalism was a system which let individuals and organizations charge whatever they want for their products and services.

turns out, it isnt so, everyone has to charge high enough so that private interests can make profits to satisfy themselves. it seems so, because some prick is able to come up and say that, like people are born to this world to to be profited from. reminds me of the middle ages and serf system.

Stop with the freebies already! (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344182)

* Making food and handing it out (for free!) to your family, friends, and neighbors
* Caroling for free in the holidays
* Free sex (some have even institutionalized this theft as "marriage")
* Developing software and giving it out ... for free
* Free thoughts and writing. Also get rid of WordPress, an enabler for the freebies.
* Handing out free food to the homeless.
* Free search engine results
* Free web browsers
* Free on-the-air TV signals

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