Public money

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but BBC’s website seems to have an insatiable desire to fill up bandwidth.

The front page of the New York Times on 11 January had an interesting piece about the lengths of film credits –

Surprisingly, the BBC news website had an interesting article bylined Michael Osborn ‘Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 17:41 GMT ‘ on:

BBC: ‘The Lord of the Rings trilogy has reached its climax by setting a new record for having the longest closing credits in Hollywood history…’

NYT: ‘They are known as closing credits, but the other day at a movie theater in Times Square, after three and a half epic hours of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the credits did not seem to want to close’

BBC: ‘This is in stark contrast to the dawn of Hollywood, when silent horror flick Nosferatu mentioned just 16 names in a mere ninety seconds.’

NYT: ‘The 1922 vampire classic “Nosferatu,” a kind of special-effects vehicle of its day, credited only 11 cast members and 5 others, including the director and cinematographer, and the credits lasted 1 minute 35 seconds’

BBC: ‘The Return Of The King lists oddities such as “compositing inferno artist” on its epic credits, while Mr Fay’s personal favourite is “cockroach wrangler”.

NYT: ‘At eight minutes, the moviegoers still in the theater were watching a scroll of completely inscrutable titles like “wrangler manager” and “compositing inferno artist.” Of course, the caterer had to be immortalized, too.’

BBC: ‘Big name stars often like their vast entourages to be mentioned – Russell Crowe boasted a 17-strong team on the credits of Master and Commander.’

NYT: ‘And in big-budget movies with powerful stars, the stars often succeed in winning screen credit for anyone who has anything to do with their performances. In “Master and Commander,” the list of attendants to Russell Crowe alone reads like the staff list at a small company: his costumer, two hairstylists, a makeup artist, two special makeup artists, a stunt double, a stand-in, a trainer, a dialect coach, a swordmaster, three violin coaches, two assistants and the name of the company that provided his personal security.’

BBC: ‘While a film credit name-check can be an important career boost to someone in the business, …’

NYT: ‘In some movies with limited budgets, travel agencies and other companies are sometimes given credit – in essence free advertising in a prestigious format – if they agree to work for less.’


1922 Nosferatu – 16

1977 Star Wars – 143

1999 The Matrix – 151

2003 LOTR II – 559

2003 Matrix III – 701

Source: Baseline Hollywood ‘

NYT: ‘According to Baseline, which compiles information about movies, the original “Star Wars” in 1977 listed 143 people in its credits. In 1999, “The Matrix” listed 551, including Longy Nguyin, a sports masseuse. Last year, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” listed 559 names, “Finding Nemo” listed 642, and the third installment of the “Matrix” series had 701.’

Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr Osborn – did you really contact Baseline Hollywood, or is the NYT article the source of the figures?

The clash of political correctness(es)

What do you do when you have a female racial minority employee with a great employment record at the BBC? You sack her, because she sounds ‘posh’.

This highlights the folly of the left’s ardent desire to groupthink (whatever happened to ‘I have a dream‘?). Black people are OK so long as they are left wing, but if they are somehow not proles (or lefties) then the left hates them.

This is racism (what would happen if a black person was sacked for sounding too ‘black’?).

I hope Ms Ahmed sues (not under silly discrimination legislation which would not apply here, presumably because it is OK to discriminate against posh people, but for the breach of an implied term of fair treatment) and makes a packet.

There was a case last year or the year before where the BBC was found liable for discrimination when its Scottish division refused to hire an English person solely on grounds of that person’s Englishness.

The BBC should be abolished.

War coverage

This article states that 25% of people surveyed by the ITC thought that, among others, BBC1 was biased towards the US/UK. Funnily enough, page 27 of the report seems to imply that 21% thought the BBC was biased against the UK/US and biased towards the anti-war lobby (total – for some reason the pro-US camp is a single answer whereas the anti-US camp for want of a better word is broken up into ‘specialties’). I have not really looked at the maths in detail but it seems to add up to more than 100%. I do note that the BBC has spun this report to its own benefit. Readers may find the answer to the funny maths in the report so please comment.

Not happy (again)

Ms Kay is not happy again. She still views the win as a loss for Davis, rather than a win for Arnie because people wanted him to.

More interestingly, even if one supports the argument that a narrowly-based, high culture state broadcaster is permissible to allow people to better themselves (don’t scoff too much – I believe this is the thesis of Rose’s ‘Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes’ – and the market does not appear to be very efficient at giving poor people the high culture that the better-off can afford to consume – at extreme public subsidy too I might add), even if one allows this, should a state broadcaster’s role include opinion at all?

Perhaps this is where it has gone wrong – the BBC worked all those long years ago when it provided cold news (and was relied on as the fact source of record) and also high-culture plays and opera etc (and I dare say I am happy that there might have been some miners’ children in the impoverished North who learnt about Beethoven that way). The private sector is better at the BBC at providing opinion, and can do it more quickly and more efficiently. Why should the BBC provide opinion at all?

This is a quick fix, because the soft-left bias corrodes its news reporting as well as its editorial, but some proper guidelines and real editing could go a long way to fixing that. Of course, once it was made to spin off to the private sector all of the commerical tat it produces, subsidised by us, in direct competiton with the other TV channels (like EastEnders and 500 dreary home improvement shows) and dumped all of its new, sloppily researched and error-ridden, left-leaning ‘gotcha’ attack investigative journalism (that appears to have had tragic effects), it would have much more time to ensuring that its news was sober and sensible. Why was the British public happy for BT to float (another dinosaur from the bad old days of socialist Britain), yet the defunct NHS and multiple-tentacled Marxist juggernaut that is the BBC are sacred cows? (extreme mixed metaphor alert there)


Defending treason at the BBC

The ever-brilliant Stephen den Beste fisks this ridiculous piece of BBC anti-American propaganda posing as news.

This sort of analysis would be met with shock and horror in Islington by the soft-left supporters of the BBC, no doubt.

The BBC of course does not understand civil disobedience – it is not a right to break the law and get away with it because one (thinks one) has noble intentions, it is the moral duty to break an immoral law and be punished for it because to comply with the law would be wrong. This sort of obvious subtlety is completely lost on the BBC.

BBC Forums: Part II

It gets better – this forum on whether there should be a new UN resolution on Iraq and more troops sent there, features …(drumroll)…’BBC reporters’.

I am sorry, but a BBC reporter setting out matters relating to an issue is a news article, not a ‘Forum’. Perhaps they could ask Mahathir to comment on this as well (see post below on ‘Ask the expert’) – no odds on who he would blame for the current problems in Iraq.

There really seems to be a problem at the BBC – the BBC, which is supposed to be a non-profit public broadcaster, has swallowed the whole digital media thing hook, line and sinker.

Commercial stations have digital and satellite, so why not use bags of public money to screen BBC tat (4,000 home improvement shows, apologies for Islamist terrorism masquerading as human interest stories from the West Bank, and EastEnders) in direct, subsidised competition with shareholder-funded commercial outfits?

The internet is the future, so why not spend bags of coerced taxpayers’ money on churning out this sort of rubbish?

This is exactly why the BBC could be a narrow, high culture state broadcaster, or a privatised commercial one, but not the bastard offspring it is. This shows Blair’s mistake in corporatising it – witness the BBC’s institutional reaction to the Gilligan – Kelly scandal – close ranks, and defend, whatever the facts. Whatever you do, don’t let the organisation’s continued existence come into question.

I fear with BBC online that the tail has started to wag the dog – the BBC has a website, and it should get bigger and bigger of course (like all government departments – great when you are unaccountable and have £2.7billion of taxpayers’ money to squander), so let’s just fill it up with more and more of this rubbish. Someone is paid to sit there and idly think up filler, as the organisation takes on a life of its own.

How many jobs in the BBC depend on BBCi? I would be most interested to know.

The BBC’s view on UK citizenship

So, this is the BBC’s idea of what it means to be a citizen of one of the world’s oldest democracies, the country that invented the Westminster system and faced down Napoleon and Hitler?

One tourist attraction, the minimum wage, rubbish teeny-pop bands (or music attractive only to teenagers), the Queen’s birthday, the Welsh Assembly, the working time directive, Islam and minority languages…

Do you detect a left-wing bias here?

Firstly, the facetious and smarmy undergraduate tone of the quiz is presumably intended to ridicule Blunkett’s plans to introduce a citizenship test. While Big Blunkett is a terribly authoritarian Secretary of State and is criticisable all round for his anti-civil liberties ‘flog and hang’em’ mentality, this is an idea that plenty of other sane countries (like Australia) adopt (and hey, I am sure you have to pass a religious test if you wanted to become a Saudi citizen).

Secondly, the questions all deal with Labour/left wing issues – minimum wages (theoretically unsound to a non-Marxist economist), the Queen (she is so silly she has TWO birthdays – so let’s abolish her and become a republic), Welsh nationalism (hmmm…English bad, non-English good, two legs bad, four legs good), minority languages (we just love them don’t we – repeat after me – English bad…), Islam (what can I say – Western bad,…), consumer rights (kettles? obviously a plot by Western capitalists to screw good old workers who just want a nice cup of tea) and Labour Prime Ministers (Labour was only in power for about 25% of last century from memory – and did not in any real sense predate the 20th century in the UK – say it again, Conservatives bad,…).

What about an article about citizenship and toleration and respect for free speech, freedom of religion, the rights of minorities like gay people, and respect for womens’ rights, and whether one can be a citizen and espouse the violent overthrow of its democracy and its replacement with a grossly discriminatory and violent religiously based legal system?

This is a serious issue – and my taxes pay for this biased nonsense? Where is Cato (of Carthago delenda est fame) when you need him?