The BBC wants to increase the licence fee, and, guess what, the Guardian agrees

The BBC wants to increase the licence fee, and, guess what, the Guardian agrees:

“At a time when many of our traditional industries have lost their international reputation, the BBC has managed to maintain a blue chip brand of global excellence by combining technological innovation with editorial independence. It has proved a winning combination that is well worth backing for the future”.

Well, it’s an opinion.

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52 Responses to The BBC wants to increase the licence fee, and, guess what, the Guardian agrees

  1. JohnM says:

    Looks like The Grauniad has got it wrong again. The BBC doesn’t want to increase the licence fee, as reported in the article dated 12th October, it has increased it as shown on my TV Licence certificate that landed on my door mat this morning; increasing it from £126 to £131.50p. I make this an increase of 4.37% which is rather more than the inflation rate. That is if you believe government figures!

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  2. Mark says:

    Surprise, surprise !

    The Grauniad (or is it the Berliner, theguardian or whatever it calls its pretentious self) comes out praising the Beeb !

    I can hardly thing of a more corrosive selp-perpetuating symbiotic union – after all, most Beeb jobs are advertised in theguardian.

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  3. Kulibar Tree says:

    And most Guardian writers seem also to moonlight on the Beeb!

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  4. dan says:

    Comments can be made on the TV licence hike at (D)HYS & The Times Debate

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/section/0,,564,00.html

    Supporters of the licence think it good value for money, especially as it gives them advert free viewing.

    These supporters never seem to have any qualms that their “value for money” is provided courtesy of the forced & reluctant contributions of others. They sometimes compare the universal licence with the cost of Sky subscriptions (they miss that these are met only by a small number exercising choice).

    (is the BBC cost per programme hour high (not programme production costs but BBC income divided by hours of output), reflecting the funding provided by non-viewers?)

    The supporters never seem to consider that their viewing preferences could be met more fairly by a subscription paid only by willing customers.

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  5. Ian Barnes says:

    re: Guardian writers and their love of the bbc, no surprise given that the BBC only advertises jobs in the guardian, or atleast 90% of the time.

    Its totally biased, i never see job ads for the BBC in any other national press. If i do, its some obscure thing.

    Clear political bias. But we knew this already. Just makesure you dont buy the guardian, best bet.

    Re: Blair v Clarke, i am confused yet again, this whole conflicting message syndrome the PM suffers from, what exactly is he proposing? Does anyone know?

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  6. Tom says:

    The BBC makes its case

    The American Expatriate provides a good fisking of the BBC’s online justification for the “license fee” increase.

    “The unique way the BBC is paid for and governed means it is owned by the British people and accountable to them.”

    A more accurate statement would be to replace “British” with “thegaurdian” at least for current affairs and politics.

    http://theamericanexpatinuk.blogspot.com/

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  7. Ian Barnes says:

    i should also add, practically everyone at work today is talking about yet another tax rise.

    BBC if you’re listening, people aren;t happy.

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  8. Natalie Solent says:

    Thanks for the link to American Expatriate, Tom.

    I was struck by this line from a BBC story about critics of the plan.

    The BBC said research found 81% of the BBC audience believed the licence fee was good value for money and more than 40% would be prepared to pay twice the current licence fee or more.

    I believe them when they say that 81% say the license fee is good value for money, although my response is that it is still illegitimate to demand money for a broadcaster on pain of jail – and some of those 81% might also believe that. (Think about it.) However the statement that >40% “would be prepared to pay” twice the current fee is odd. If it means that 60% would be not be prepared to pay, and would take the consequences, then that is a very high proportion of refuseniks. If it means “would be happy to pay” then it is as meaningless as those surveys in which people loudly proclaim that they want to pay more taxes for the good of all, a position they hold right up to the minute the choice becomes real.

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  9. EU Serf says:

    After their unashamed backing of Ken Clarke I think they are value for money.

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  10. Ritter says:

    Fury indeed.

    Fury over BBC’s licence fee plans
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4333336.stm

    Check this according to BBC:

    “The BBC said research found 81% of the BBC audience believed the licence fee was good value for money and more than 40% would be prepared to pay twice the current licence fee or more.”

    Firstly, 81%? Seems high. And 40% would pay double? Really??

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  11. Ritter says:

    Sorry Natalie, beat me too it!

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  12. Pete_London says:

    I believe I should be clear regarding my position on the proposed increase. I’m quite prepared to pay sod all. I believe sod all represents excellent value for money and would be happy to pay double sod all.

    JohnM –

    Now that you’ve paid the State £131.50 of your hard-earned for permission to own a TV for for another year I hope you enjoy it. Me? I paid sod all.

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  13. Bryan says:

    The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science has just been awarded to Thomas J. Schelling, an American, and Robert J. Aumann, an Israeli-American, though if you do a search of the entire BBC website, it’s as if these people do not exist and the award never happened.

    There was a brief mention yesterday on the World Service that the prize had been won by ‘two Americans’, though Aumann has been living and teaching in Israel for half a century.

    Google, on the other hand, has over a hundred thousand entries on Aumann. Clicking on the first entry on the Google page will yield this headline on Aumann’s thoughts:
    Outlook Gloomy for Peace in the Middle East.

    Apart from the fact that he is an American-Israeli and a Jew, one can understand why the BBC would relegate this man to irrelevance when he has this to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

    According to game theory, the actions by a party in a conflict on one day affect its adversaries’ subsequent behavior, Aumann said. He said the Gaza withdrawal, carried out unilaterally after more than four years of fighting with the Palestinians, is only going to invite further violence and raise Palestinian actions for additional concessions.

    “We’re sending a really bad signal to our cousins,” he said in an AP interview later Monday. “We’re saying, all you guys have to do is to increase the terror, all you have to do is increase the pressure on us and we will capitulate.”

    The BBC don’t believe this man is newsworthy? They have rolled over and are playing dead.

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  14. dan says:

    Leading the attack was the Conservative Party, which has recently been wary of criticising the BBC in public.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1821904,00.html

    Pity that the Tories chose to belittle the judgement of a Law Lord (Hutton, as they prefered to kick Blair, rather than using the Hutton report as an opportunity to cut the BBC down to size.

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  15. Ritter says:

    I think the 81% support finding come from this report in 2004:

    Measuring the Value of the BBC
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/text/value_bbc.html

    I qoute:

    “Finally this research investigated the possible outcome of introducing a subscription system in place of the licence fee. It revealed that the BBC would maximise its revenue by charging £13 a month (a 30% increase). At this price
    14.8m households would subscribe but 9.7m would not. Consumers would be
    worse off by £300m a year and the BBC would lose a further £523m a year in revenue. As a result those who chose to subscribe would end up paying more than the current licence fee for a lower standard of service. Also, of course, a non-universal BBC would not be able to carry out its citizenship roles, including
    support for democracy, education, culture and social cohesion
    .”

    ‘social cohesion’? Ho ho ho!

    There is some scary stuff in the report though….

    “Not only would 81% of “total value” respondents pay the existing licence fee to keep the BBC, they would actually pay considerably more (see Figure 6). When asked what they would be prepared to pay to stop the whole BBC from closing down, on average, “total value” respondents said it was worth paying £20.70 per
    month to keep it in operation. This is more than double the existing £10 monthly licence fee.

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  16. Hank Scorpio says:

    Great to see the Guardian’s sales rocketing with the introduction of the new format.

    Incidentally, my tiny little depressed ex-mining home town, Stanley, where I was born and raised in the less-than-kind-to-us 1980s, is the venue for this week’s Question Time.

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  17. Ritter says:

    If BBC went to voluntary subscription, 58% of households (14million) would opt out entirely.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/pdfs/value_bbc.pdf

    Page 33 Figure 29

    So if you ask Joe Public “Is the BBC value for money”, 81% say “Err Yes, suppose”. Follow up with “If you had a choice to pay or not, for example if the BBC went onto a voluntary subscription basis, would you subscribe to any channels?” 58% say “Nope”!

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  18. Pete_London says:

    Oh great news, Hank. Haves sales of the Daily Terrorist ‘rocketed’? Really? Say, from 16 to 18 copies? Take away sales of The Transgender Single Mother News due to council’s central government ministries, arts bodies and a couple of hundred thousand people checking out the public sector jobs and you’re left with sales figures for The Differently-Abled Asylum-Seeker Chronicle of about 5. And one of those meant to buy the Independent instead.

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  19. Grimer says:

    I can’t help but feel cynical about all this. The BBC are asking for £200 a year, they know they’ll never get it, so everybody will feel better when they come back and say they can make do with £175.

    It’s the kind of trick that property developers use. You buy some land and submit an application to build 30 apartments on the site. The local council panics and says that’s too many (but know they have to let you build some apartments because it’s a “brown field site”). So, you submit a new application to build 20 apartments and it gets approved. Whereas, if you’d asked to build 20 in the first place, it would have been turned down.

    The great thing for the BBC is, it makes them look like they’re “economising” and the next time there is a review, they can claim to be “cash strapped” due to the previous setlement.

    I’m not sure why I care, they’re never getting another penny out of me.

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  20. Pete_London says:

    Spotters badge for Ritter!

    So here we have it, on contained within the pages of “Measuring the Value of the BBC”. It’s ‘a report by the BBC and Human Capital, no less, carried out in October 2004. And there we have it:

    Figure 29, below, shows how much the BBC would charge for subscription packages for it’s channels. If these were the only packages on offer 58% of households (14m) would opt out entirely.

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  21. Pete_London says:

    Has anyone any idea what the BBC’s ‘political role’ is? From the same page and in a piece about decreased income:

    It could certainly continue to operate at this level, but there is no guarantee that it would be able to maintain its level of quality on such a reduced budget. The BBC’s power of universality would be lost, diminishing its political role and providing significantly lower citizen value.

    Loss of universality = diminishing political role and lower citizen value. Has anyone got a clue what this is about?

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  22. dan says:

    (The BBC) argued that the licence fee would represent a reducing proportion of household income.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,172-1821906,00.html

    How do they work this out when many people get pay/benefit rises no better than inflation plus 0%?

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  23. Grimer says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/text/value_bbc.html

    “The second obstacle is that it is hard to know exactly what a world without the BBC would look like. The ramifications on media, cultural, political and social life would be so profound that it is very difficult to predict what they might be. It is not too dissimilar, for example, from envisaging a country without a national electricity grid. This lack of any obvious counterfactual makes it far more complex to think of the benefits derived from the existence of the BBC than the benefits of a road or a bridge. ”

    I know which of the those I’d rather go without.

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  24. Pete_London says:

    “The second obstacle is that it is hard to know exactly what a world without the BBC would look like. The ramifications on media, cultural, political and social life would be so profound that it is very difficult to predict what they might be. It is not too dissimilar, for example, from envisaging a country without a national electricity grid. This lack of any obvious counterfactual makes it far more complex to think of the benefits derived from the existence of the BBC than the benefits of a road or a bridge.”

    Eh?! WTF?!

    And let’s not forget page 4:

    “Also, of course, a non-universal BBC would not be able to carry out its citizenship roles, including support for democracy, education, culture and social cohesion.”

    Eh? Does the BBC Charter oblige it to carry out these ‘citizenship roles’?

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  25. Rob Read says:

    Haha suckers, I’m not paying, and you shouldn’t either.

    It’s time to help people get a 180 quid tax cut.

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  26. Rob Read says:

    The British are Subjects not citizens.

    Thanks BBC, good to know your true views on the Monarchy.

    The BBC are anti-Britain, and Anti-British, do ALL you can to defund and destroy this broadcasting cancer.

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  27. Rob says:

    The hubris of that “Measuring the value of the BBC” is quite amazing.

    “The unique way the BBC is paid for and governed means it is owned by the British people and accountable to them.”

    How, precisely, is the BBC accountable to me, a British citizen? In a market economy a private company is accountable in the fact that I can refuse to purchase their product. If I do that to the BBC, I will go to prison.

    Their quote is just a laughable lie, a travesty of the truth. The British people, far from owning the BBC, are a captive pool to be robbed each year on pain of prosecution.

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  28. Simon says:

    Does the Guardian still beleieve we have the best policemen in the world, or that British motorbikes are the best in the world, or that the Royal Navy is the finest in the world? Believing that the BBC is wonderful belongs to the same set of jingoistic attitudes. Whatever next, The Guardian lamenting the passing of the clip round the ear by the good old local bobby, or deploring the difficulty in getting suitable domestic staff?

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  29. max says:

    “Do ALL you can to defund and destroy this broadcasting cancer.”

    Well said!

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  30. Ritter says:

    I have no idea where the BBC gets the idea that it has a role in promoting ‘social cohesion’. As far I can can see, reference is made in the Royal Charter that the BBC make some programmes that deal with social issues. Thats it.

    3.2 The requirements referred to in subclause 3.1 are that the Home Services •
    (a) are provided as a public service for disseminating information, education and entertainment;
    (b) stimulate, support and reflect, in drama, comedy, music and the visual and performing arts, the diversity of cultural activity in the United Kingdom;
    (c) contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world to support fair and informed debate at local, regional and national levels;
    (d) provide wide-ranging coverage of sporting and other leisure interests; 6
    (e) contain programmes of an educational nature (including specialist factual, religious and social issues programmes as well as formal education and vocational training programmes);
    (f) include a high standard of original programmes for children and young people;
    (g) contain programmes which reflect the lives and concerns of both local and national audiences;
    (h) contain a reasonable proportion and range of programmes for national audiences made in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and in the English regions outside London and the South East.
    3.3 The Corporation shall transmit an impartial account day by day prepared by professional reporters of the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/charter/pdf/agreement.pdf

    The Charter

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/charter/pdf/charter.pdf

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  31. Natalie Solent says:

    Thanks Grimer, will post that gem.

    I know, I know, I’m always saying this – but how does the BBC reconcile its professed “support for democracy” with its studied neutrality between terrorists and democracies?

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  32. Rob says:

    They have failed utterly with regard to 3.2(c) and 3.2(d) is now a faded dream.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    “though if you do a search of the entire BBC website, it’s as if these people do not exist”

    Apart from the page they are mentioned on, of course.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4326732.stm

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  34. Ian Barnes says:

    OT couldnt help but notice the British govt has now increased its donation to £10m.

    I mean £100 000 who ever thought of that should be fired.

    Main thing is they got there in the end.

    OT Might i also add, any news on whether the RAF will be purchasing/ leasing any more C17s for the RAF?

    There is currently a major short fall in strategic lift long haul aircraft.

    I’m a fan of Boeing, 747s aswell, perhaps the govt could buy a couple of older 747s from BA ?

    OT

    Also something very interesting i heard is the increasing number of small craft and aircraf crossing the channel illegally transporting drugs +people.

    It wasnt too long ago that the RAF/ RN used to patrol with RAF Hawk jets, i’m sure they could spare a few older ships i.e HMS Newcastle/ Cardiff, although paid off, could be reactivated.. to sit in the channel at strategic points with SSR on and scan for objects. It might deter what has become a major access point into the UK that no one appears to have noticed?

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  35. Ritter says:

    Many of the posters here promote the idea of having ‘choices’ in terms of subscribing or not to any BBC output. Sadly, we are up against a government who have no idea what ‘choice’ is:

    Wikipedia on ‘Choice’

    “Choice consists of that mental process of thinking involved with the process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one for action.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choice

    …seems a fair enough definition….

    Blair on ‘choice’

    “You can’t introduce choice simply by a choice mechanism,” said Mr Blair.

    Eh?? Yes you can. You can give people choice by giving them a choice. What you mean Blair is that you don’t want to give people a choice.

    Have a read of this article. It’s Blair trying to say he’s giving people a ‘choice’, but it’s nothing of the sort.

    Blair says quality key to choice
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4334526.stm

    Next he’ll be arguing that the BBC give us ‘licence choices’…… pay, or go to prison – you choose!

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  36. Pete_London says:

    Ritter

    Prison it is, with a smile on my face.

    Ian Barnes

    It’s long been known that all kind of craft are ploughing their way across the English Channel. The government had a choice; deter and send back any craft found or leave the waters free to illegal immigrants. It conciously chose the latter.

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  37. Verity says:

    Rob Read – the British have not been “subjects” for around 25 years. Look at your passport. It says you are a citizen.

    Pete_London – you’re on good form! Some very interesting posts and well-aimed jabs at the BBC’s extraordinarily inflated idea of its (unelected) role in national life.

    Simon – yes, the BBC’s from another, distant era when Britain probably did have the best policemen in the world, and the British sincerely believed that the NHS was “the envy of the world” (which inexplicably failed to copy it).

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  38. Bryan says:

    “though if you do a search of the entire BBC website, it’s as if these people do not exist”

    Apart from the page they are mentioned on, of course.

    Thanks for that info, Anonymous.

    Weird, though, that when I typed the names of the winners and also the prize into the BBC search engine I came up with no results.

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  39. amimissingsomething says:

    81%…good value for money

    well, consider almost any product or service…if the obviously much lower price i paid for it were depressed because virtually every household had to pay for it whether they wanted/needed/used it or not, i’d probably find it good value for money, too.

    if sky or any other pay tv could spread its current income over both subscribing and non-subscribing households, wouldn’t its current subscribers observe even better “value for money”?

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  40. Teddy Bear says:

    The BBC said research found 81% of the BBC audience believed the licence fee was good value for money and more than 40% would be prepared to pay twice the current licence fee or more.

    I think that figure is at best 25% of total viewers, so 81% of that figure would mean about 20% of total viewers. 10% would be willing to pay double – I say let them. I’d pay double to send the BBC to hell.

    Great article at The Times
    Greedy Auntie

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  41. RB says:

    TB,

    I think you’ll find that pretty much everyone watches the BBC at some point (the 25% being the proportion watching it at any one particular point), so your maths doesn’t work.

    The license fee is clearly good value for the product it funds, when looked at against the market comparables (i.e. Sky charging a fortune for a package of unmitigated crap when you just want the football). It’s the element of compulsion which is the best argument against it.

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  42. Rob Read says:

    RB,

    Sky is much cheaper than the BBC (and far superior) if run on a extortion based funding basis like the BBC does.

    Looks like theirs a lot of BBC fat to trim.

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  43. Frank P says:

    Rob Read

    I’m a little puzzled that you think SKY is cheaper. My standard package with sports channels is about £39 month. Plus I choose to buy the extra 50 football games at another £50 per annum. If I wanted to watch box office movies it would cost me more and most of the films they offer are box-office bombers. That amounts to – er – £548 plus insurance cover for the box or other breakdown. I’m not complaining about that because that’s what I contracted to do. But I do complain about having to fund the BBC in order to watch Sky. RB is right, extortion is the problem. And in any civil debt (unpaid licence fee) should not be enforced by criminal law. All other civil debt has to be collected through the civil process and if necessary the Baliffs. It is an iniquitous tax given the numerous alternative broadcasting and internet options.

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  44. Teddy Bear says:

    TB,I think you’ll find that pretty much everyone watches the BBC at some point (the 25% being the proportion watching it at any one particular point), so your maths doesn’t work.

    I think you’re hoping that is the case. More and more is written about the declining viewing figures, and the poor quality of the programmes available, not to mention the bias. I’d bet with anyone that 81% of the viewing public do not feel the BBC is good value for money. If I’m wrong, then this country and society is in worse shape than I already think. LBC recently had a phone in on this subject and the vast majority of the calls were not pro the license fee – thankfully.

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  45. Rob Read says:

    Frank P,
    Check the other Comments.

    Grimer has done a quick “like-For-Like” breakdown on BBC V SKY costs, IF Sky could extort the money for a basic package (i.e. roughly the same as the BBC provides except more channels) it would (in theory) be cheaper than the BBC by 50%

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  46. Frank P says:

    Rob Read

    I missed that. Obviously not on this thread, would appreciate it if you could pin-point it for me if you can remember where it is or perhaps Grimer could help?

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  47. Rob Read says:

    Frank P

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/patrickcrozier/112913838003329114/

    Grimer | 13.10.05 – 5:05 pm

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  48. Rick says:

    THe Guardian is actually “Ariel” the BBC house-newspaper, and as we know Ariel is biological and washes whiter, so it would seem that The Guardian is a whitewash

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