Friday, 9 October 2015

Might Want to Do Your Research, Polly

From the Guardian

A star was born as glorious Bake Off ended last night with the victory of Nadiya Hussain. Expect a million Nadiya baking books to sell before Christmas. Yet again, the BBC has surged ahead with an unexpected phenomenon that no commercial TV company would have bothered with in prime time. Until, that is, it became a hit – and that’s when BBC-haters pile in to say they shouldn’t be doing such popular stuff – leave it to the market.

So, a show with multiple contestants, baking cakes, with multiple different rounds, with a contestant eliminated after each stage, and a male and a female judge? That sounds totally original and not at all like Cupcake Wars on the Food Network:-

The show is similar to successful Chopped cooking show aired on the same network, in that it starts with four contestants who are eliminated one-by-one in three rounds.

The show invites cupcake bakers from all over the United States to compete. There are three judges in the series, with two of them serving as permanent judges.


All hail the BBC. Providing slightly stretched out versions of cable TV cookery shows, and funded by threats of violence.

20 comments:

mombers said...

There is the flip side of this though - America's 'Dancing with the Stars' is based on 'Strictly Come Dancing'

The Stigler said...

mombers,

Yes, but X-Factor took the big risks, especially as talent shows had been dead for years. Making it an ongoing thing for weeks, adding in soap opera elements of rehearsals and so on was risky. And Strictly Come Dancing just coasted on that, doing almost nothing but replacing singing with dancing and members of the public with celebrities. It even has the same contrived elements like the "nasty" and "nice" judge and the long pause before announcing who is going out.

The BBC make some good stuff, but well, they should with a couple of billion quid. But if you shut it down, it's not like we'd stop getting the same good stuff. You'd just have cable channels picking up shows (many of which are created and owned by private companies) or creating certain shows.

mombers said...

I'll take commercial free BBC for £12.12 per month over free to air stuff filled with annoying ads or Sky which costs more than the licence fee and is also full of ads... Especially for the kids - it's insane that vulnerable young people can be targeted with incitement to eat junk and nag for toys, etc.

The Stigler said...

mombers,

I have no problem with that. It's the lack of choice that's a problem. Even if I don't care too much for the BBC's output, I am forced to pay for it.

And that doesn't include things like CBeebies or the parliament channel which are public goods. But if they are public goods, if we think it's good for poor little kids to have Teletubbies (and I do), why are we funding it via a regressive tax like the license fee rather than general taxation?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Bake Off was created and produced by a subsidiary of Sky TV. They sold it to BBC as highest bidder.

John Miller said...

Dear God, she doesn't seem to realise that not even (some might say especially) the BBC commission programmes that haven't been tried before somewhere else. That's just how it is nowadays. The creatives don't decide on a programme, the suits do.

Doesn't the plethora of cooking, antiques and property shows give her a clue?

Ben Jamin' said...

@MW

Has no one been in contact yet regarding your idea of "The Great British Fuck Off?"

Ratings magnet in my opinion.

paulc156 said...

Maybe BBC could do less for more and I agree that if it's to be funded by the taxpayer it should not be in the regressive fashion of a TV licence but in my view, in terms of quality Sky doesn't even come close.
I don't pay for that anymore as the only thing that they excel at is Sport and particularly Premiership football...and their charges are too rich for my liking. BBC2 and 4 in particular are national treasures, in an era where the term 'national treasure' is much abused.

Graeme said...

Anyone who thinks the BBC is a commercial-free zone obviously does not listen to the radio. Every 15 minutes there is a plug for the next show or some forthcoming show or a chat with the presenter of the next show. It has even less variety than the cement ads tht punctuated an illegal feed of the Test series in India a coupld of years ago.

The Stigler said...

paulc156,

But that's the thing: "in your view". Me, I get little from the BBC. I quite like Only Connect, QI, some of Radio 4, quite a lot of Radio 3 and Kermode on Radio 5 and not much else.

Graeme,
I switched to a local commercial station because I got fed up with Chris Evans and his boring shit. And I'm sure I get no less music or news, mostly because the ads don't kill real content, they just mean you don't get the sorts of ads the BBC runs like interviews with celebrities about their new books or albums.

Derek said...

TS wrote: "The BBC make some good stuff, but well, they should with a couple of billion quid. But if you shut it down, it's not like we'd stop getting the same good stuff".

I dunno, TS. Commercial TV has to compete for viewers with the BBC, so if the BBC produces good stuff, commercial TV needs to do the same in order to get viewers. Take away the BBC and there's less competition on quality. Also the type of TV changes because you don't want to do anything that will upset the advertisers. I see the results here in Canada every day and it's not good even though we still have the (grossly underfunded) CBC. I often have to switch the TV off because it's 100 channels of crap.

The biggest problem with the BBC is the funding method which is absolutely horrible. But I wouldn't fund it out of general taxation. That just makes it even more of a political football and has worked out REALLY badly for the CBC. I doubt it would be any different for the BBC. Instead I'd get the advertisers to fund it. The trick is to get them to do so indirectly, instead of the direct advertisement funding that the current commercial broadcasters get, so that the pressure that the advertisers can directly apply is removed.

And a form of LVT could come to the rescue here. Commercial broadcasters already have to pay the government for spectrum transmission rights over the public airwaves. That money should instead be rechannelled to the BBC, replacing the current licence fee. So the BBC would still be funded from licence fees but they would be transmission licence fees, not reception licence fees. At a stroke that would remove one of the general public's major objections to the BBC.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Derek, that is a brilliant plan. Do you mind if I adopt it wholesale?

Derek said...

Please do. You probably want to check out the numbers on it first though. I haven't actually costed it out. It just seems like the right way to do it.

Random said...

You are all wrong.

The TV licence is collected by the BBC but paid directly into the Consolidated Fund. It's just a tax.

The BBC is funded by HM Treasury: "The Secretary of State shall pay to the BBC out of money provided by Parliament sums
equal to the whole of the net Licence Revenue or such lesser sums as the Secretary of
State may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine."

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/about/how_we_govern/agreement.pdf

Para 75(1)

Bayard said...

"That money should instead be rechannelled to the BBC, replacing the current licence fee."

The Treasury wouldn't like that. At the moment that money is part of the nation's income. It would in reality be no different from simply cancelling the licence fee.

"or such lesser sums as the Secretary of
State may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine."

It's the ability to raid the Consolidated fund, like they did with the Road fund, that means that the government will never willingly consent to a BBC paid for by subscription. Mind you at least you can avoid the TV Tax by not having a TV. If the BBC was paid for out of general taxation, you'd have to pay whether you watched television of not. Apart from that, the resistance to moving the BBC to a subscription model shows that the "licence fee" is a tax. They obviously know that the BBC wouldn't get anything like the revenue they get now if the licence fee was only paid by people who wanted to watch the BBC. Mind you, that could include iPlayer.

Mind you the government could simply be honest (now that would be a turn up for the books) and rename the licence fee the television tax, which you would have to pay to use a TV, just as you have to pay road tax to drive a motor vehicle on the public roads.

The Stigler said...

Bayard,

"If the BBC was paid for out of general taxation, you'd have to pay whether you watched television of not. "

What's wrong with that? I don't have any children with special needs, but I have to pay for children with special needs to be looked after. And I don't have any arguments about that.

If the BBC is producing something that is publicly useful, like say, educating little kids with Cbeebies (and I have few complaints about CBeebies), why do we have it paid for by a regressive tax like the license fee that means that poor people can't afford it?

Derek said...

Bayard said... "Mind you at least you can avoid the TV Tax by not having a TV."

I wish. It may be possible to avoid paying for the BBC by not having a TV. But since you pay for ITV and Sky every time you buy a box of cornflakes or a bar of soap, it's actually commercial TV which you can't avoid paying for. Unless you decide to go full-bore, self-sufficient hippy of course. But that's a bridge too far for most of us.

Derek said...

Bayard said... "The Treasury wouldn't like that. At the moment that money is part of the nation's income. It would in reality be no different from simply cancelling the licence fee".

That's very true. But there's a bit more to it than that. The reason for "rechannelling" the money from the transmission fees, is that it provides the general public with a guide for exactly how much the BBC should be getting. Basically the government would have to explain why the BBC is getting less than the government is collecting if it doesn't hand it all over, just as it does with the current licence fee system.

If you don't have that then the BBC's funding level becomes a matter of political decision and can be used as a threat to pressure the BBC into compliance with government views, just as much as advertisers use advertising revenue to pressure commercial TV into compliance with their views.

Experience with the CBC has demonstrated that even governments friendly to the idea of a public broadcaster don't particularly want to pay more for one, while those who are against the idea will absolutely cut the budget. For the CBC that meant that it had to start running commercial advertising so that it is now subject to pressure from the government and from the advertisers. And yet it is still perennially short of cash, so its output of quality programming keeps dropping year-by-year. Historically it's put out some good stuff. But recently? Not so much. I don't want to see that happening to the BBC.

Bayard said...

"Basically the government would have to explain why the BBC is getting less than the government is collecting if it doesn't hand it all over, just as it does with the current licence fee system."

In practice hardly anyone would either know nor care about how much the BBC were getting. I can see your point, but we had this with the Road Fund Tax. The money from the road tax you had to pay to drive your car on the public road was put into a fund for the maintenance of the nation's roads and for building new ones. Due, probably, to government inaction, less money was spent on the roads than was collected from the tax. One day Winston Churchill saw this big pot of money going unused and simply spent the money elsewhere. That was the end of the Road Fund.

ontheotherhand said...

The products of the BBC are not free of influence from advertisers because they want to sell as much as they can abroad where there are advertisements. That is why recent Attenborough programmes run for about 45 minutes with 15 minutes of 'making of' fluff tacked on at the end. The US cuts that stuff out. Similarly CBeebies is great because it does not have ads, but again the programmes are 20 minutes long with presenter filler in between so that they can be sold abroad with ads space. They also make sure each programme has a good jingle in the beginning naming the characters one by one so the children know which toy to pester for.