Friday, 26 March 2010

Over The Rainbow and down the pan for the BBC

'Over The Rainbow' the BBC’s latest collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber exemplifies everything that is wrong with the Corporation.
My licence fee is helping to publicise the composer and theatre owner’s forthcoming West End production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. The pretext is an audition show to find the musical’s Dorothy.
Once would have been sufficient but this will be the fourth time the Beeb has promoted a Lloyd Webber production in this way. It guarantees him a sell-out even before he has finished casting.
You can’t blame multi-millionaire Lloyd Webber for exploiting the BBC’s poverty of original ideas but it underlines just how far down the creative ladder the Corporation has slid.
The BBC’s 2007 acquisition of the Lonely Planet guidebooks group put paid to any surviving notion that the media giant might be anything other than a commercial operation. The Corporation’s apologists argued that at its core, it remained a public service broadcaster. They were hard put to explain why Jonathan Ross was paid the cost of what could have been spent on many new series.
No, BBC 1, the flagship channel, in its pursuit of ratings is no different to its rivals except that it has its adverts (promoting its own products) falling at the end of programmes rather than in the middle of them.
It is no wonder that the licence fee is under attack. It’s not just the Murdochs claiming that the BBC has an unfair advantage. Unlike rivals the Corporation is unscathed by the downturn in advertising revenue and as its web output is free (if you don’t count the licence fee) rivals cannot float paid content. Its stranglehold is becoming increasingly undemocratic.
The BBC is downsizing but not fast enough. BBC Worldwide will have to be sold off even if New Labour gets back into Downing Street.
I shall keep listening to Radio Four. There’s no place like the Home Service.

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