Darren Grimes: Not even Charles Moore can save the BBC

23 Sep

Darren Grimes is a political commentator and is content creator at Reasoned UK.

When the former editor of the Guardian and exemplar of metropolitan liberalism, Alan Rusbridger, tweets about it being “inconceivable that someone fined for refusing to pay a licence fee” could become Chairman of the BBC, readers of this site could be forgiven for assuming that I would be a fervent supporter of such an anti-licence fee appointment.

After all, anyone who could robustly challenge this anachronistic and regressive form of taxation on anyone wanting to watch live television, from within the behemoth itself, would surely pave the way to reforms that we at Defund The BBC want to see, right? I’m afraid I’m not so optimistic.

Charles Moore, the fantastically eloquent former editor of the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator is reportedly Downing Street’s favoured choice to take over at the Corporation as Chairman when David Clementi’s three-year term expires in February 2021.

Such a move, argue proponents of licence fee reform – and those in favour of bringing the BBC more in touch with the public it is supposed to serve and unite – would send a strong signal to the upper echelons of the Corporation that this Government means business, and isn’t afraid to set a conservative cat among the uber-woke pigeons.

But I’m afraid we are way past the point of message-sending being enough to save the BBC from itself. Earlier this month, some hopeful conservatives were hailing Tim Davie, the latest Director-General of the BBC, as a man with a plan that could save the broadcaster from Titanic-like disaster.

Consider, for example, reports that Davie was set to tackle “perceived left-wing comedy bias” as he arrived, dressed in jeans, for his first day in the job. At this point, Frankie Boyle seems to have decided to ask Davie to hold his beer – and watch how it’s done.

During his BBC Comedy New World Order show, in which humour masquerades as virtue signalling and applauding each other’s woke credentials, so-called comedian Sophie Duker cracked a so-called joke about killing white people.

She said: “When we say we want to kill whitey, we don’t really mean we want to kill whitey,” before adding, “we do”. The rest of the panel quickly realised there is no way in which they could surpass what Duker had just contributed to the wokeometer. The BBC has refused to be drawn on the row over the show. So much for challenging left-wing ‘comedy’.

The Corporation’s new boss also spoke about cost-saving measures. The BBC’s rich list was published last week to much outcry: in total staff pay has soared from 3.5 per cent to £1.5 billion, while the BBC pushes ahead with its plans to strip a million over-75s of their free TV licences.

Gary Lineker earned a table-topping £1.75 million in 2018/19, and the Guardian reported that he has agreed to a pay cut – a new five-year contract worth a quarter less than his current one – adding that Gary “knows his responsibility to the BBC in terms of his use of social media”.

Yet as soon as the first shoots of change were beginning to sprout, Lineker dismissed the Guardian’s report of the story as untrue, and said that the Corporation recognises he “tweets carefully”. In what reality? Lineker has a history of virtue-signalling on Twitter on everything from the English Channel crisis to Brexit, and all semblance of impartiality is thrown from the window. So, no change there either then.

To rub further salt in the wound, Zoe Ball is now earning £1.3 million, after the BBC pledged to tackle the gender pay gap. She got a £900,000 pay rise, despite losing a million listeners last year. Would this be allowed to happen in the private sector just to fiddle their gender pay gap statistics?

And as the BBC spends our own cash on lecturing us about what good value for money the licence fee is and boosting their diversity, you’d be forgiven for believing that the liberal bastion’s only diversity issue is its lack of diversity of thought. But it now seems to be intent on getting rid of the much-loved 64-year-old Sue Barker from A Question of Sport. The only under-represented groups on our screens are the disabled and the over-50’s.

Why should we believe that any new Chairman could have any meaningful impact and deliver change, when the new Director-General has seen his pledges fail in his first month in the job?

What it all boils down to, ultimately, is that we, folks, are utterly powerless to do anything about this. Just to watch our telly sets, we are forced to fund the salaries of those that luxuriate in millions of pounds, pay for hate-filled so-called comedy and put up with right-on woke opinions that blatantly breach impartiality rules – or face the threat of prison. It’s just not on, and the licence fee should have been decriminalised yesterday, never mind today.

We at Defund The BBC will not be pacified by totemic position holders, even one as gifted as Moore, and it would seem the public agrees with us. We’ve already raised £60,000 in our crowdfunding efforts from those that recognise that the licence fee is a regressive anachronism in the modern broadcasting world.  And it’s time for the Conservative Party to pull its finger out and drags the Corporation, against its own will, into the twenty-first century and back in touch with the public that it purportedly serves.

Darren Grimes: Why I’m backing this new campaign to defund the BBC

1 Jul

Darren Grimes is a political commentator and is content creator at Reasoned UK.

It’s safe to say that the BBC has had a terrible Coronavirus war.

Allowing itself to become the propaganda wing for Black Lives Matter protestors; dismissing one protest in particular that injured 27 rank and file police officers as ‘largely peaceful‘. The Corporation has decided it can use our own money to tell us what to think further still – removing Little Britain from its increasingly skewed iPlayer content. It then announced it would spend £100 million of our dosh on producing “diverse and inclusive content”, when its only diversity problem is its lack of diversity of thought.

At the weekend, the BBC even went as far as to say gay men who exclusively fancy men are transphobic, placing itself at the very front of the barricades of the culture war that we appear to have imported from the United States. In a BBC News piece on Pride Month, the (since removed) bit of text told us that: “discrimination also extends to what some people describe as transphobic preferences in the dating world: from cisgender gay men not wanting to date trans men”.

A gay man exclusively fancying men? “Bigotry!” says Auntie Beeb.

Readers of this column will be aware many things grind my gears, but having to pay the BBC to watch Newcastle United get thrashed in real-time, via a Now TV subscription, is one thing that I find staggeringly incomprehensible. As if being a NUFC fan isn’t punishment enough? To watch any live telly, I have to pay for the BBC in its entirety, even if I watch none of it. Funding right-on Gary Lineker’s large pay packet with the threat of prison if I do not.

It might well have made sense when my mother was a child to ensure that house number 48 couldn’t pick up the signals from number 47 for nothing, using just a TV set with an aerial or even a coathanger, but the world of broadcasting has changed. Back in my mother’s day, there existed no technological mechanism to charge people based on what they actually wanted to consume.

Choice in television has since exploded. More than 480 channels are available to every UK TV viewer, as well as an abundance of other streaming services: people are now used to paying a subscription for the telly they want. With an understanding that if you don’t pay the fee, the only penalty you face is that those channels are switched off.

That’s not the case with the BBC’s Telly Tax. It’s single mothers like mine that are hardest hit by non-payment of the licence fee. Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 72 per cent of cases, or 93,319 of 129,446 prosecutions in 2018 were brought against women. If you ask me, that’s too high a price to pay just to keep Strictly Come Dancing on free-to-view telly.

And then there are young people. It was reported in December that around 18,000 people under the age of 20 have been prosecuted in the last five years. Surely the liberal do-gooders advocating decriminalisation for middle-class coke sniffers, to protect young people from a criminal record that they deem to be a minor or harmless activity, must now recognise the human cost to young people and women from criminalisation for non-payment of the telly tax?

The same bunch that opposed Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax must surely be opposed to the BBC’s poll tax. A tax imposed on those who are increasingly likely to watch little or no BBC output, but must pay the £154.50 a year tax, regardless of income, to watch a TV set.

Inevitably, all of those arguing that our courts are overstretched, seized-up and that the justice system must be better funded, will recognise that substantial resources are taken up with thousands of prosecutions for non-payment of the licence fee, right?

If you have read all of these arguments and heard them all before, many have not. That’s why I’ve decided to join the Defund The BBC campaign, which is now managed by the same set of seasoned campaigners behind StandUp4Brexit, who held our parliamentarians’ feet to the fire in ensuring that our voice and our vote for Brexit was listened to. They want to do that again with the BBC.

Defund The BBC want to make the case to the public, lobby our Government and stiffen the resolve of our parliamentarians to do something about the biased, bloated, antiquated and regressive BBC. Anything you can donate to their crowdfunding efforts will boost their campaign to secure the decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee by the end of 2020, and to fight for a commitment from the Government to change the Charter, so that its remit covers only BBC channels and content.

Our broadcasting and streaming habits have left the 1970s days of aerials and coathangers behind them, it’s about time that the regressive and antiquated BBC funding model – with its real, present and tragic human cost – was dragged into 2020 with them.