Anyone who reads jBlog regularly will know that I’m a big fan of the BBC. As a nation we should be proud that we have an organisation that is so well respected across the world.
So I’m naturally disheartened to hear of imminent job cuts at the BBC.
The license fee settlement has, according to the Beeb, meant that journalists will be facing redundancy. It’s always a sad state of affairs to see this happen, but part of me wonders if the BBC simply employs too many people?
Take Five Live as an example. If you ever listen to their football coverage, you’ll notice how a ‘team’ of reporters covers every match. Is it too much to ask a team of one commentator and one analyst to do the whole match? I’ve heard some games covered by no less that six different people. Pure wastage, and I fail to see how it improves coverage in the slightest.
On a local level, radio coverage from the BBC is very good. Although, again, it could be cut back without hindering quality. On my local radio station, I enjoy listening to Mark Johnson’s commentary on Cambridge United’s games. It’s good — Mark is a long time United fan, so there is a sense of shared joy when the mighty U’s do well.
But our opposition, whoever it may be, will have their own commentary team covering the match too. Two BBC commentary teams commentating on the same match, at the same time. Why not combine the two? If Cambridge are playing Torquay, why not have Mark Johnson and his Torquay-based equivalent commentating together? Already you’ve saved on two analysts.
Apply this to Premiership games, when there will be no less than three commentary teams covering (each local station, and Five Live), and you’ve saved an absolute packet over the season.
And that’s just one example. I could go into the money-spending exercise that was changing the BBC idents to the ridiculous ones with the Hippos (how much did that cost?), or how pointless it is having a shivering Nick Robinson standing outside Downing Street, in the dark, telling us all that nothing has changed since the 6 o’clock bulletin.
I sympathise with the BBC. It’s not nice having to get rid of journalists. No doubt the NUJ will be on their back about this as well. Rightly so, those journalists affected need to be represented. But we should really be looking into how the BBC came to employ these surplus journalists in the first place.
Once that’s done, they can then start looking at how to earn more money from what it does already. Will an advert on BBC.com really be that bad? BBC.com is an attractive prospect for advertisers because it is a well-respected news source that people trust. So, with that in mind, I can’t see the advertisers offering much in the way of pressure on content. They’d want the BBC to stay exactly as it is.
What’s more, why should overseas internet users gain advertising-free access to a website that we — the license fee payer — have paid for?
If the BBC directs its efforts into trimming the excess, and maximising the assets it already has, this change need not be so drastic. We shouldn’t even notice it happening.