Sunday Times should come clean on Beeb attack

The Sunday Times fails to declare an interest in its depressing report that the Observer is threatened with closure on the back of Guardian Media Group’s growing operating loss of £36.8 million. This is the paper’s plausible enough spin on GMG’s statement on Friday that it will be unable to carry the current rate of losses beyond 2011. The ST also fails to declare the parent Murdoch group including Sky’s self-interest in its separate story claiming that the Conservatives in power would sell off BBC Radio 1, then wrapping the two points in a wider editorial assault on the BBC for becoming in effect “ a newspaper publisher.” As it sheds crocodile tears for the Observer, the editorial hints at but fails to confirm Murdoch plans, still unconfirmed, to start charging for its own on line product.

At the moment most newspapers give away their content online for free. But this cannot continue and soon all of them will have to charge for it in some form. When that happens, the BBC “newspaper”, which of course will remain free, will gain a huge advantage. The Observer, the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, is under threat of closure. This underlines the crisis facing the industry. The BBC cannot be allowed to push it over the edge. Fewer newspapers would be bad for democracy

What lord of nature decreed that when the web started to develop it should become the exclusive preserve of newspapers? Now you know why News International has chosen this moment to turn its guns again on the Beeb. Tomorrow’s media Guardian should be a must-read.

  • That would be the £3.5bn a year funded BBC?

  • Brian Walker

    Yes. Sorry if you confused it with the now defunct Belfast Bottling Company.

  • Vivid Dance

    Which BBC did you think Brian Walker was on about, Vance?

  • Vivid Dance

    It’s heartwarming to see censorship on display once again on this site.

  • Eddie

    Why all this squealing about the funding of the BBC?

    Newspapers are also funded:
    a)by the price you pay for the newspaper, a cost which has far exceeded inflation in the past 20 years;
    and b) by advertising revenue. So every time you see an ad for Tesco, Cadburys, or dog food in the paper, you’re paying for the cost of that advertising every time you buy the product. Same goes for UTV/ITV – you think UTV is free? – think again, mate.

  • Brian

    Thanks for that clarification. Did the Belfast Bottling Company demand you pay for their product or face criminal proceedings? If so, I am glad they are out of business. Further, tomorrow’s Media Guardian is never a must read but often a best avoid.


    Which newspaper demands you pay for their product? I refer you to biased bbc for further elucidation.

  • Mark Simpson

    In the mid 80s newspaper publishers were claiming that the end of their world was nigh owing to teletext becoming widely available and that they’d never survive.

    A quarter of a century later they’re still here and still moaning, it’s just about different technology.

  • Eddie

    To David Vance – I really don’t know what your point is. All newspapers demand they pay for their product.

  • Eddie

    sorry…demand YOU pay for their product

  • Eddie,

    If I don’t want to BUY a newspaper, say the Guardian for example, I do not have to. Got it? If I have a TV, I must pay the TV tax to the BBC. It’s a Statist anachronism and it must go.

  • Eddie

    But you don’t have to have a tv. And if you didn’t the BBC supplies tons of free stuff – like their news website, said to be one of the best in the wordl, plus man other websites on different topics.

    Oh, and there’s also Radio Ulster, the UK’s most-listened to local or regional radio station, plus five national radio networks, and if you have DAB radio – BBC Radio 6 and Radio 7 – all free!

    Plus you can watch BBC free via your computer.

    Seems to me you have got it in for the BBC. Did they nuck your gutties at some stage, mister?

  • Eddie

    What you are really saying, Mr Vance, is that if you want a newspaper, you have got to pay for it. And if you want to view television, you have got to pay for it. (Where that television money goes is a matter for Parliament)

  • Vivid Dance

    [i]But you don’t have to have a tv. [/i]

    What if I want to watch Sky 24 hours per day but never listen/watch BBC propaganda? Why should I pay the TV licence fee?

    [i]Plus you can watch BBC free via your computer.[/i]

    If it’s visual stuff then you need a licence for that also.

    I suspect that part of my licence fee is going towards your wages, Eddie.

    P.S. Is the contributor by the name of Mark Simpson the BBC Ireland correspondent?

  • LongDanSweeney

    Whilst not always taking everything the BBC says as hard fact, I do know that those of us who can receive it would be poorer by far (and I mean this culturally) were we to lose it.

    Vivid Dance – imagine a broadcasting world populated by Sky/Virgin/Disney, it would be horrendous and soul destroying.

  • Mark Simpson

    Vivid Dance.

    Seeing as you ask, no, I am not the BBC Ireland correspondent. More than one Mark Simpson in the world.

  • Vivid Dance

    [i]More than one Mark Simpson in the world. [/i]

    No way. You’re fucking joking me, right? And on a thread about the BBC too, eh? What a coincidence.

  • pith

    With regard to the Observer holding being the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, it is the norm elsewhere as it is in the UK and Ireland for there to be specific Sunday titles?

  • pith

    With regard to the Observer being the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, it is the norm elsewhere for there to be specific Sunday titles?

  • Eddie,

    What you are avoiding saying is that ONLY the BBC requires a mandatory £3.5bn tax to provide us with a left wing echo chamber.

  • Mark Simpson

    @Vivid Dance.

    No, definately not me. Neither is this me:

    despite me also being gay and posting in the thread about the Pride parade. Life’s full of coincidences, isn’t it?

  • McNutty

    Yeah I’m sick of those politburo bulletins from that Trotskyite gang of four Peinaar, Peston, Robinson and Paxman. Trots to a man, as long as that man is Dacre.

  • Mick Fealty

    Trolls, back off. This is a serious site for people who want to talk about serious matters.

    Here’s the problem with abolishing the licence fee: what would take it’s place? Commercial radio is dying on its feet. Even Simon Heffer calculates R3 and R4 are worth the licence fee alone.

    HBO is one of the great produce of US based subscription tv. It would be great to think that the British could make stuff of that quality, but there is no way the market is big enough.

    Murdoch can spin out some good quality programmes, but again that’s being donea commercial monopoly that Murdoch protects with the help (or acquiesce) of his friends in government.

    At least we know the gross terms of the BBC’s monopoly. And it’s massive leadership over both the Guardian and Murdoch arises out of its massive resources, early investment and reach of the brand.

    Murdoch can make money out of WSJ online, but he’s on a hiding to nothing with charging for his Times content. It will simply drop out of the debate, and become less relevant.

    It’s what the NYT tried to do, and it’s heading south at a rate of knots. The truth is the old model doesn’t work. As Brian notes:

    “What lord of nature decreed that when the web started to develop it should become the exclusive preserve of newspapers?”

    That’s going to have drastic consequences for both the Guardian and Times. Mr Murdoch would be better attending to the broken fences on his own farm than trying to nobble his neighbours who’ve been keeping them in (reasonably) good order.

  • Eddie

    To Mr Vance
    Ah! At No 19 above, you reveal that your real objection to the BBC is that (in your view) the BBC is left-wing. It seemed originally that your objection was against having to pay for a tv licence for the BBC, per se. Why change the goal posts during a discussion?

    Answer this question: do you want to watch the BBC for free?

    To Vivid Dance – no I do not earn any money from the BBC. I just happens to think, despite all its imperfections, that the BBC is bloody good value for money. Gawd help us if we were left with the increasingly news and current affiars-free ITV and the wonderful (and expensive) Sky channels at £40 per month.

    Ask yourselves this question: who would benefit from the BBC being abolished? AND why do you think the newspapers (especially Mister Murdoch’s) target the BBC for criticism.

    Huh? Aw. c’mon now.

  • McNutty

    Sorry Mick, I wasn’t trolling, I’m just sick of the ad nauseum parroting of the £3.5bn tax line. It’s a schtick to beat the Beeb with by the ‘left-wing echo chamber’ mob.
    One way or another we can still trust the Beeb more so than we can most other outlets, whether in news or elsewhere in our media diet.
    Our media ecology is changing, but I know that neither the big or small media models that are on the table are going to work in the short/ medium term as both are predicated on revenue streams they can’t achieve and which therefore won’t support their new projected potential audiences.
    For cohesive natonal media, which news relies upon at the highest level, I think the licence fee works perfectly.
    I’d rather have the Beeb than bloggers, present company excluded of course, as it is easier to track and delivered at times that are convenient for me. It’s well worth mine and the GLW’s cash.
    The key to this thread is Murdoch’s belief in still being able to bully the market and his competitors – showing just how antiquated his thinking is.
    Ironically for a free marketeer, he’s he has no notion of the complexion of the new market that has emerged and the Beeb should not be uppermost in his thinking.

  • Tinky Winky

    [i]One way or another we can still trust the Beeb more so than we can most other outlets, whether in news or elsewhere in our media diet.[/i]

    Yes, I for one found it touching when Barbara Plett started crying at Arafat’s funeral. I loved the recent memo where the BBC exec stated that BBC programming had a duty to remain true to left of centre values. I loved it when Nick Robinson wrote a blog about how David Cameron speaks on top of a soapbox, visited Norwich North six times during the recent by-election campaign there (the PM visit a total of zero times) and is called ‘Dave’ the on the same day that it was revealed that government debt had reached £799bn. I love Orla Guerin’s impartiality, the same goes for Justin Webb’s coverage of the 2008 US Presidential election. I loved watching Harriet Harperson tell Dimblebore, on a recent episode of Question Time, to ensure that Ian Duncan Smith stopped talking. I loved the way Emily Maitless recently described the election of two MEP as a dark day for the UK. And that’s just off the top of my head. Don’t get me started on BBC Northern Ireland’s attitude in relation to the GAA.

    It warms my heart when I’m then demanded to pay an expensive licence or else I will face court action – a fee that ensures that when Jonathan Ross is found out as the vacuous, offensive piece of shit that he is, the resulting fine imposed comes out of my pocket. Puts a smile of my face, let me tell you.

    I have a friend working for the BBC, doing pretty menial tasks at the minute, in London and the Home Counties. Oh the stories I could tell about exactly how your hard-earned money is spent on a more trivial basis! It would turn your stomach.

  • McNutty

    Tinks, what’s the most viable alternative?
    I agree with your point on the licence fee and the horrible enforcement of it – but all in all it is great value for money in the end.
    If you can’t find a tenner a month on the Beeb then the problem is yours, kid.
    We all have criticisms of the media outlets, even those we like, but at least there is a semblance of objectivity or at least a multitude of views not available in the nearest cultural models globally – Fox/ Al Jazeera/ GMG/DMGT? Nah, mate. I’ll go with nations and regions.
    Where I am on the ‘mainland’ (Merseyside), my licence fee is very well spent. Exemplary coverage. Backed up with the highest per capita listenership in the corporation regionally.
    Having worked on all the papers in this region, I know the kind of trivial stuff that is done at that level, and without the Beeb it won’t be covered very soon. The slow agonising death of Trinity Mirror is taking care of that.
    And as for the BBC in NI covering the island’s biggest participation sport… actually let’s not go there. Life really is too short.

  • Tinky Winky

    [i]If you can’t find a tenner a month on the Beeb then the problem is yours, kid. [/i]

    The above ‘point’ is beyond patronising. Thankfully I can easily afford the fee and when I say ‘thankfully’ I mean in relation to my personal wealth, not the fact that I am able to avoid a court summons and possible criminal conviction for having the audacity to wish to view the odd Champions League game on ITV or Sky News’ coverage. However, there are millions of people out there who are not lucky enough to have the levels of disposable income that you seem to be able to enjoy, kid. Spare a thought for pensioners etc. living on the breadline

    But, as noted earlier, why should I have to pay money to the BBC in order to have the privilege of watching Sky? You may feel more comfortable watching the BBC as opposed to Sky. I don’t. But why should you have the choice as to whether or not you want to pay to watch television and, if it’s not the BBC I intend to watch, I simply don’t?

    [i]..but at least there is a semblance of objectivity or at least a multitude of views not available in the nearest cultural models globally – Fox/ Al Jazeera/ [/i]

    Quit beating that straw man.

    [i]The slow agonising death of Trinity Mirror is taking care of that.[/i]

    I think it could be more accurately described as the longest suicide in history what with the journalistic talent of the likes of Routelege, Maguire and that scouse twat at its disposal.

    [i]And as for the BBC in NI covering the island’s biggest participation sport[/i]

    It seems like you’re deliberately going out of your way to feel exasperated by my comments. BBC NI’s coverage of GAA is atrocious (today being a notable exception) from every conceivable angle you can think of. They seem to feel compelled into giving an u-14 badminton competition down at the Cookstown Leisure Centre more attention than senior football county final.

  • McNutty

    I’m not exasperated, just answering your points.
    There is a mulitplicity of voices on BBC given its vast reach e.g. gaelgoirs and Celts of all identities have a rap as do many ethnic minorities. Even when it is plainly money losing – look the Asian network.
    If you’re saying the GAA isn’t given enough coverage in the North, then I wholeheartedly agree. Given the demise of Setanta, those of us over here can’t get any GAA, apart from that on the Sky regional channels. That is a tragedy.
    BTW where is that Diaspora channel promised by RTE before the Tiger stopped roaring?
    Don’t pensioners get the Beeb for about £2 a week? How much is Sky? Yes, I know there is a choice issue, it’s just I think that the BBC option is better value. And no, I don’t agree with jailing those who don’t pay it.
    We agree in broad terms about the Mirror and my former employer, but not about Readey who is a mate of mine and a right decent cove. You can FAO about that.


    Though a SKY subscriber for the sport I despise their right wing news coverage. Their antics in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon were horrendous because in my opinion they provided cover for the war crimes of the Israelis. It was ALWAYS the Israelis reacting to whatever the Arabs did and not the other way round. Now they have that odious individual Kelvin MacKenzie reviewing their papers every night and hanging on his every right wing word. It really is nauseating and despicable. Sport apart I hate SKY.

  • Tinky Winky

    LURIG, I take it you don’t have any problems with Murdoch’s internet package?


    Fair enough Tinky Winky you have snooped and rumbled me, how are MI5 & Holywood Barracks these days? They are my internet provider but that doesn’t mean I can’t condemn their news coverage which I have done directly to them and often.

  • tinky winky

    I was taking the piss, LURIG, no harm intended. You’re spot on about MacKenzie, by the way. On the whole the newspaper review bits on SKY and BBC are little more than love-ins for a select band of incestuous Westminster hacks, Iain Dale, Shane Greer, Stepehen Pound, that failed Tory turned Indy writer with the big specs et al ad nauseam every fecking night.

    By the way, it didn’t require much snooping – my cursor simply pointed to your screen name and up came your email address.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’ve argued here many times that the Beeb should not obsess about objectivity, rather it should seek allow its writers an intelligent pluralism. It might manage that better by recruiting of experience from outside the liberal BBC bubble.

    A little more Andrew Neill, a little less Paxo.

  • Brian Walker

    All, I wasn’t aiming for a fundamental debate about the Beeb, but it’s your privilege to have one.

    Just to pick up a few points..

    Mick, Interesting that you contrast Paxman with Neil. In fact, Neil is on air rather more but maybe less prominently than Paxman while Parliament sits. Both operate within the rules – but the rules of ocurse allow presenters and producers to frame the question and shape the theme; and one person’s objective question or treatment is another’s partiality. I would say there’s a fair amount of “intelligent pluralism” on the BBC, some of it promoted as “signed programmes” on R4 by yours truly as Current Affairs Commissioning Editor. Perhaps the time has come for more, to reflect the age of the blog – so long as the Beeb weasn’t then accused on trying to wipe out the blogosphere.

    I wouldn’t change the requirement that authorship in the BBC still requires fairness, even with a point of view. Even if I wanted to, the BBC Charter wouldn’t let me. For me, I think of the Charter as the BBC’s statute of liberty rather than its shackles. The BBC would not survive the endless rows if the BBC had a platform of diversity for the equivalents of Fox News or Vrema (Putin TV) or even al-Jazeera.

    However, rather than pile all the diversity bligations onto the BBC, multipolar access on the web is surely not far way, if they can sort the overloading problem.

    The BBC is in danger of falling victim to its own success. So far and remarkably, a multiplatform world has strengthened the BBC rather than weakened it. But if other suppliers catch seriously on -,(and who can doubt that Google and Microsoft could afford to enter the content market?)- consent for the licence fee, which is already dipping could dwindle and we could then be into a much scaled down BBC with subscription.

    Can I end this with a subversive whisper? Quite a lot of “vigorous” opinion is dead boring.

    I see that late in the day, Media Guardian have at last cobbled together a holding story that no decisions on the Observer will be taken until the autumn.

    It would be nice to think that the trend towards profitablity for some newspapers in the US discussed by Roy Greesnslade will be repeated on this side of the pond. I still don’t understand why groups like Johnson Press deamnd such a high return. But at least they ha e kept down closures, unlike Trinity Mirror.

  • Tinky Winky,

    Good points and met with a wall of silence! The truth is that the BIAS of the BBC makes it unfit for a penny of our taxes. Then again, I suppose if one is pro-Palestinian, pro-IRA, anti-Israeli, anti-American, anti-capitalism, pro-obama, anti-Trident, pro-Gay rights, pro-AGW, anti-law and order – why the BBC is dear old Auntie is moderation and balance incarnate.

  • Big Maggie

    Now, that’s more than enough of my time you have been given – bye and missing you already!

    Posted by David Vance on Aug 02, 2009 @ 03:46 PM

    And he’s back the following day! Can’t get enough of Slugger, can you, David?

    Any sign of that Gazan response to the killings? No, what a shame.

    But listen, nobody will think the less of you if you actually come out (sorry) and sympathize with the murder of a gay and a lesbian. We might even welcome you into the fold of caring humanity.

    Then again, I suppose if one is anti-Palestinian, anti-IRA, pro-Israeli, pro-American, pro-capitalism, anti-Obama, pro-Trident, anti-gay rights, anti-AGW [!!}—why David Vance is dear old moderation and balance incarnate.

  • McNutty

    Authentic frontier gibberish – I’m making the international sign of the fruit loop as I type.

  • Big Maggie


    “I’m making the international sign of the fruit loop as I type.”

    Is it this one? ᾧ

    Or the old-fashioned, passé, one? ₰

    I think we should be told.

  • McNutty

    Just the usual twirling of fingers around the head with simulateous, boggling eyes and whistleing when M. Vance posts on any of the number of bugbears evidenced above. It’s taken years of resisting incitement to respond previously.

  • Big Maggie


    Oh, I don’t believe Mr Vance is crazy. Not at all. He comes across as being a good and lucid debater—and with a sense of humour too, which is never a bad thing.

    I suspect he’s simply a victim of the society he grew up in. Had he grown up in Yemen, say, he’d have a whole different set of loves and hates.

  • willis

    Meanwhile over on Fox Business News we get a glimpse of the sort of interview technique we can look forward to when Rupe and DV wipe out the Beeb.

    Interviewing the boss is never easy, but it’s never good politics to ask about a possible sticky business situation even if it is the talk of the town.

    Chatting to Rupert Murdoch , at the Allen & Co media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Fox Business News anchorman Stuart Varney opened up by saying the whole country (US) and New York was “buzzing” about the News of the World story. When Mr Murdoch answered “nah, I’m not going to talk about that issue today, sorry” Mr Varney backed off in milliseconds. “OK, no worries Mr chairman, that’s fine with me.”

  • willis

    From the Sunday Times Editorial

    “But with the advent of the internet, the BBC has in effect become a newspaper publisher.”

    No, the BBC became an on-line News provider.

    The BBC invested early and heavily in the internet. One of the few things for which John Birt is universally praised. At that time Rupe was not interested in the Internet.

    The BBC was ahead of the game and Rupe had to play catch up.

    Now surprisingly? the Sunday Times wants to re-write history. When did we see this before?