Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The BBC Cuts: Thundering Idiocy Special

So, we’re sitting at our PC, cobbling together another half-arsed picture-based update to the blog, because it’s easier than writing stuff. Firstly, we notice that MTV2, once a brilliant music channel playing an eclectic range of music videos, from a variety of genres, that couldn’t be seen anywhere else, has been rebranded as “MTV Rocks”. So, twelve years of innovative programming (well, about five years of it before switching to an endless stream of Coldplay, The Zutons and Kings Of Leon, but still), don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out.

And then came even worse news, that the ‘leaked’ BBC cuts as published in The Times a few days ago, that the BBC claimed weren’t necessarily the contents of the final report, are all true. BBC 6Music and the BBC Asian Network are to close. The BBC’s online presence is to be reduced by 50% (because, as everyone knows, this whole ‘internet’ thing turned out to be a fleeting fad that everyone soon got bored with. CD-ROM is where it’s at). But hey, there’ll be a concentration on ‘quality programming’ elsewhere.

We could trot through the largely obvious reasons why it’s a bad idea closing two radio stations that provide a service not available from anyone else for much of the country. 6Music is the only radio station we can listen to without wanting to smash furniture. Earlier on we saw someone on Twitter lazily dismiss the station as “radio for people who think their taste in music is better than everyone else’s”, but then that’s one of the great things about music. It’s very easy for there to be a near-universal opinion of a film, television show or videogame. Schindler’s List is inarguably better than Date Movie. The Sopranos is better than Balls Of Steel. Fallout 3 is better than Superman 64. But while The White Stripes are more popular than, say, Elbow, are they better? Are they worse? You probably have your own personal feeling about whether they are or not, but there wouldn’t be much of a consensus, unless you’re counting “I’ve never heard of Elbow” as an option.

When it comes to music, everyone with an ounce of sense thinks that they have the best taste in music out of everyone they know. That’s kind of the whole point, that the music you like forms a connection with you, no matter if you prefer Sonic Youth, U2, Lady Gaga or JLS. While you could comfortably expect to hear U2, Lady Gaga or JLS at least once an hour on the vast majority of radio stations, the only place you’re going to hear Pavement,  Sly & Robbie, Teenage Fanclub, Pixies, Funkadelic, The Chemical Brothers, Nat King Cole and The Big Pink in the same morning is on 6Music. While we don’t listen to the Asian Network, the same principle applies there. Sure, in major metropolitan areas you’ve got stations like XFM or Sunrise Radio catering to people who could be listening to 6Music or the Asian Network, but they aren’t available nationwide. Not everyone lives in big cities, yet people out in the sticks can have diverse tastes too.

image “But they didn’t have that many listeners!”

Because they were only on DAB radio, a platform which has turned out to be a massive white elephant. It’s practically unworkable in a car stereo without having to keep retuning, portable digital radio players have a battery life about as long as your average Napalm Death track, the mooted “CD quality” sound turned out to be about the same as a badly encoded 128kbps MP3, and few people ever had a reason to make the switch. Had the Asian Network and 6Music been added to FM, they would have had many more listeners.

Out of curiosity, we’ve just taken a glance at the iTunes top hundred podcasts, to see how many BBC shows are there. Here’s our report, each show’s position in the chart is in brackets.

Radio 1:
Best of Chris Moyles (4)
Scott Mills Daily (19)
Radio 1 Mini Mix (37)
Zane Lowe's Hottest Records (45)
Radio 1 Chart Show (58)

Radio 2:
Jonathan Ross (15)
Weekend Wogan (16)
Chris Evans (33)

Radio 3:

Radio 4:
Friday Night Comedy (1)
A History Of The World in 100 Objects (2)
Desert Island Discs (7)
In Our Time (23)
The Archers (30)
Start The Week (41)
From Our Own Correspondent (48)
Food Programme (57)
Great Lives (60)
Woman's Hour (64)
Costing The Earth (78)
Best of Today (90)
Money Box (91)
The Bottom Line (99)
The Film Programme (100)

5 Live:
The Danny Baker Show (34)
Richard Bacon (36)
606 Phone-In (55)

6 Music:
Adam & Joe (25)
Collins & Herring (26)
Jon Richardson (42)
Jon Holmes (75)

And, because this is us, here’s a chart summarising all that. We’ve got the beta of Office 2010, you know.

image So, while Radio 4’s podcasts are way, way out in front, 6Music holds up hugely well. Despite having a fraction of the listener base, it has more popular podcasts than Radio 2 and Five Live, with even Radio 1 is only slightly ahead. A second chart accounting for the popularity of each podcast gives similar results.

image Now, iTunes don’t make actual podcast subscriber numbers available, but these numbers suggest that a much larger proportion of 6Music’s listeners like the output so much they’ll actively track down recordings of their favourite shows. Or, just maybe, a lot of people want to listen to 6Music, but their lack of a DAB radio limits the chances of them doing so, meaning they nab the podcasts instead. Either way, it’s looking like 6 Music has a sizable listener base after all, even if few of them are RAJAR diarists.

So, why make the cuts? After all, the £6million per year it costs to run 6Music isn’t much – that would only get you six hours of TV drama. And each year 6Music break innumerate new bands, and gives lots of musical styles their only national outlet. We suspect it’s because the BBC needs to be seen making sweeping cuts now, that that the incoming Tory government (ick) won’t swing the axe around as much once they’re in charge, especially as they’re now close buddies with Rupert Murdoch again. And while the cuts could easily have been made elsewhere – delayering middle management, reduced spend on national promotion, dangling Graham Norton upside down and seeing how much change falls out of his pocket – making big headline cuts like this can easily be put into a simple bullet point form that even Sun and Daily Mail readers can understand.

Speaking of whom, how about we raise our overall rage levels by taking a glance at what “the silent majority” (i.e. the screeching far-right minority) over at Mail Online are saying? How about we kick off with a thundering cunt called Dave?

image Ah, that old chestnut. “Sure, Sky might cost £480 per year for sod all original content, and have ad breaks every twelve minutes, but it’s a choice. The BBC is a stealth tax!!!1” Except, this is no longer a fucking argument. For the first time ever, it’s quite possible to (legally) watch TV programmes without having to pay the licence fee. You can buy television sets without a TV tuner inside – indeed, you could use a TV set only capable of receiving analogue terrestrial broadcasts given the big switch-off. Once you’ve got a TV incapable of receiving broadcasts, and therefore making you exempt from the big evil communist stealth tax, you can pop out and buy an Xbox 360, a subscription to Xbox Live Gold, and a subscription to Sky Player. Plus, you can watch as many DVDs as you like. Additionally, you can hook up a net-connected PC to most new TV sets, and use that to view streaming content from ITV, Channel Four and Five. You could even naughtily use BBC iPlayer on there, because even though you’d legally need a TV licence to do so, who’d know, eh? Sock it to the man!

“Oh, and where can I get a TV set without a TV tuner?”, you might be saying. Well, they are available, but they aren’t on sale in many places. And why? Because not many people want to buy them, what with the vast, vast majority of people being perfectly happy paying for a TV licence, and the free market system providing supply to where the demand is. Do you see?


“And now on BBC One, it’s time for the Ten O'clock News, with Fiona Bruce and The Reanimated Corpse Of Uncle Joe Stalin.”


imageLadies and gentlemen, we present to you Knucklescraping Cunt Of The Year 2010 awards! This award is usually handed out at the end of the year, but the judges felt that there was no point waiting any longer after these comments. And it’s only March!

And the winner is… well done KEV. Your inability to notice someone else had made the same point as you a little further down the page tipped it in your favour. Take a little time off from tutting to yourself every time you see a non-white face on your television screen (which, admit it, isn’t as often as you’d like, is it Kev? What with the overwhelming majority of people on the BBC being infuriatingly white just like you. But they’re only doing that to hide the fact the BBC actually hates white British people like you, the crafty gay Marxist gits), and pat yourself on your “No Surrender To The IRA” tattooed back.

image Aah, so now Jonathan “Wossy! See What I’ve Cleverly Done There, Eh? Yeah, Take That Wossy. Hang On, He Calls Himself That Because He’s Able To Make Self-Effacing Jokes? Yeah, Well He Would With All That Stealth Tax Money Of Mine” Ross has gone, the new celebrity piñata for Daily Mail readers is Chiles. And “his co-host”. Which one, Lee Dixon or Martin Keown?

image Ha ha! Well done, Hammy. And yeah, I, er, expect the pips signifying each hour will bloody be swapped for the call to prayer noise instead or sumfink. Innit. Etc. And only radios that have a special minaret attachment will be able to pick up BBC channels, from 2011 onwards. You fucking dolt.

imageUh-oh, here comes a challenger for Kev’s Knucklescraping Cunt Of The Year award. We might need a chalkboard to explain all this to you ‘Jillox’ (ooh, can’t call it a ‘blackboard’ any more can we, Jillox? Can’t say that, can you? You can’t drink ‘black’ coffee any more, can you? It has to be ‘Hex Colour #00000 Coffee’ now, hasn’t it?). Here’s how it works – you pay your licence fee, and there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll get a load of programmes you like. Say, Match Of The Day, CountryFile, or EastEnders. But get this, Asian people living in the UK pay for their TV licences too! And if they don’t like the programmes you like, they still have to pay the full amount, too! Even if they only want to watch their own funny channels in the high numbers on Sky – they might not even want to watch anything on the BBC at all! In fact, one of the things specifically put together for them by the BBC, is now getting closed down by the BBC! You know, like it said in the article you’re commenting on! Crazy world, isn’t it?

Though in your case, and I’ve just phoned the BBC Trust to check, it seems that due to an administrative error every single penny you’ve ever spent on TV licences has been given to gay Muslim asylum seekers. Oh man!

image Indeed. The savings should be pumped into a brand new statoin called BBC Edyookayshun.


5 .:

LewieP said...

TVs without tuners have existed for years, they are called monitors. I don't pay a license fee and I am probably not going to any time soon.

I watch the relatively little amount of content that the BBC do make for me on the iPlayer (perfectly legally).

The BBC could really easily afford to keep the likes of 6Music and Asian network going if they cut back on how much they spend on keeping the "talent", and cut back on the shitty populist stuff that they make which is basically indistinguishable from the type of stuff you get on the commercial stations ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qnvn1 - Really??!?).

Hell, they should have a 20 year roadmap for cutting down expensive broadcasting altogether, and be pushing web content as much as possible.

Stipey Sullivan said...

ahem to all your 6music comments.

on a slight aside - i question your podcast data, sir - the kermode and mayo podcast (and the best of mayo) have recently been changed on fivelive/radio2 - and they and the old versions aren't included. as the kermode podcast is the greatest podcast ever - there's something wrong with that. i'm sure they're relatively high up the chart compared to other bbc radio output (which is a load of neo-stalinist pro-immigration claptrap, thankfully). apart from chris moyles.

Rodafowa said...

I was going to ask where the Kermode/Mayo podcast was, but someone's beaten me to the punch. Damn. So I'll just mention that the monstering John Humphries gave the head of the BBC Trust on The Today Programme this morning is well worth checking out. Interesting tidbit: two weeks ago, the Trust produced a report which advised that 6Music's role should be "expanded and clarified".

Anonymous said...

I like your graphs. Very "graph-like". Well done.

Anonymous said...

I live in an area that has already switched over to digital, so as long as you only have TVs with analogue tuners, then you can say that you can't receive any broadcasts so you can get away without having a TV licence. In theory anyway....


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