Yesterday I wrote about disbanding the BBC and Channel 4. This, I think, is the best course of action a Conservative government could take. But it’s a course of action that the Johnson government is extremely unlikely to take, plus there are other problems with it, such as likely court action in a hostile anti-Conservative legal environment, and an Establishment/chattering class backlash.
So is the only alternative to take away the licence fee and force the BBC to become a subscription service? No. There is another option. (In fact, there’s also the option of do nothing, which is probably what the Conservatives will do. But let’s not just close our eyes and hope for the best.)
This option is to keep the BBC in place, and keep the license fee in place, but radically reshape it. (As for Channel 4, you can either do the same, or just axe it.) First of all, sack the BBC Board, including the Director-General. Sack all the division heads. Replace them people who aren’t biased, although many won’t need replacing. (Personally I’d just do this straight away. But if you want, you could have an enquiry into BBC bias, but that could only work if isn’t run by people who are equally biased, and run by people who aren’t going to fold under pressure.)
Then dramatically cut down the rest of it. Cut the TV back to one channel, which will contain a mix of cheap light entertainment, quality non-woke drama but on a budget (theatre-based if necessary), and science and educational programs. All sport is to be left to the commercial channels. No summer rock music festival coverage. No soaps. No celebrity-based reality shows. No charity tie-ins. A small amount of kids’ shows, but no more bland anodyne rubbish that is designed to offend no-one, but which kids find boring. No more expensive co-productions with other channels. In fact, no more co-productions full stop. No expensive talk show hosts. No news shows — it’s not appropriate that a state-funded broadcaster should do news. Or current affairs either, which means Newsnight needs to be axed, which it needed to be anyway, as its audiences are always taken over by Labour party activists pretending to be ordinary people.
Most of the BBC radio stations should be axed, including the regional stations, and especially Radio 1 and Radio 2: commercial pop music doesn’t need the help. Possibly keep Radio 3. Radio 4 I’m not entirely sure about, in its current format it’s a cancer on society so I’d love to see it gone, but perhaps there is a place for a revamped Radio 4. But I suspect that even a revamped Radio 4 will eventually turn leftist again, so getting rid of it is probably the best option. Ideally, just get rid of BBC Radio altogether.
The BBC website needs to be nuked, the BBC never had a mandate to expand to the internet. It should show TV listings and not much more. Maybe a few public service listings, like election results (presented without punditry). No news. No sports results, that is for the commercial sector. The recipe section, which is good, should be sold off.
All BBC shows should become public domain after, say, ten years. Perhaps some of the performers and writers of shows that have already been made need to be given a payment to compensate them for lost royalties, but for all new shows it needs to be made clear that performance royalties are time-limited.
The license fee should be reduced to about £20-25, which will reduce the BBC’s income to about half a billion, which is still a shed load of money. No more licence fee inspectors stalking the land and harrassing people. If there is mass refusal to pay it from some sections of society, then the BBC will just have to cut down. There is no need for the BBC to broadcast overnight, or even all the way through the day. In the internet age there is no shortage of things to watch 24/7, the BBC is not required to be on all the time.
The main advantage of this approach compared to making the BBC a subscription service is that you neutralise the BBC as a malign propaganda source, whereas the other approach might turbo-charge it. But there is, of course, the risk that a future Labour government, or a Labour government in coalition with other parties, will seek to restore it to its former glories. But that won’t be as easy as you might think if there has been five or ten years of the BBC having become much less prominent in people’s lives. And by then people will have moved further away from traditional television channels, and millions won’t be happy about having to fork out an extra £100 a year to bring back the past, especially a politicised past.
There will still probably be legal action over downsizing the BBC, of course, but changing the BBC is less legally risky than vaporizing it. So it’s a good option. But will the Johnson government, assuming there is a Johnson government, even have the balls to do this? If they don’t, though, then they’re letting an enemy who is no longer even pretending to follow the rules, and is undermining the Conservative party at every turn, continue on a path which is going to see the Tories get more and more flak from a media culture that is only going to get worse and worse. They should at least start with doing something about the open goal that is Channel 4, and see how that goes.
Donald Trump understood well that the liberal media are not just irritants in political life, or mild spinners, but major players, and major enemies of conservatism. In fact, they’re major enemies of Western civilisation. As such, they need to be treated like enemies, not indulged and allowed to continue on unchecked, taking ever more liberties with truth and rationality, while our countries crumble. Allowing things to go on as they are will spell the end of conservatism, and then the end of the UK.