Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, January 05, 2003

I admit it, the chaps (I use the term in its unisex sense) at Biased BBC have a harder job than Uncle. They appear to have no targets as soft and squishy as the ABC commentariat. Instead they have to deal with the harder questions of balance and bias in the treatment of news and current affairs.

Where could Uncle go for a laugh without the Gastropod, Pastor Lane and Max-weird McCutcheon? The pickings at news and current affairs are much leaner.

The down-side is the realization that our compulsory contributions are going to a crowd of such debased professional standards that they are comfortable in their corruption.

To attack the Beeb you have to be on horseback. To mix it with Auntie's low-life requires the perspective of the street-sweeper's broom.

Slatts has found another site of BBC watchers, BBCbias. Their focus is systematic promotion of pro-European policies by BBC senior management, for which former-Director Birt is proud to accept responsibility.

And cop this! The BBC had a commentator critical of Blair Labor, and not from the left. Frederick Forsyth.

Can you imagine Auntie making such a concession to balance?

Forsyth supports the monarchy, opposes the political integration of the UK into Europe and understands what George Bush is on about.

And he had to actually argue his case, in a weekly "essay". No interviewees to manipulate, no stroke sessions with your preselected gang of ideological clones, no minders to feed you the lines. And he only had about 3 minutes.

Anyway, they sacked him, claiming the audience was cooling. Then Radio 4 Today producer Rod Liddle dropped them in it:

'Above me in the BBC, where there is this plethora of besuited people wandering around making decisions and going to meetings, they hated him. He was reprieved at one point because a Daily Telegraph article made it clear the Queen Mother had written to the BBC saying how much she loved him.'When she died, Liddle added, 'that was the end of Freddie'

I presume Forsyth's left-wing counterpoint, Will Self (the one who writes about genitals for a living) will now get the sack too.

Those force-fed the BBC have another aggravation we Antipodeans are spared; the licence fee, a hypothecated tax that makes it hard for even governments to exercise some fiscal restraint on the broadcaster. It also reminds you every year that you're paying for it.

And it's not 8 cents a day!

So what do you do if you're a refugee from the Soviet "psychiatric" prisons for dissenters, like Vladimir Bukovsky? You refuse to pay, of course.

State-sponsored opinion-forming is always worth fighting.