BBC Boycott

First, they axed Ozzie soap Neighbours. Then, they edited film footage of the Queen to make her look like a mardy old minnow.

Now, the BBC plans to recover a £6 billion “shortfall” by making cuts to the very departments that made it so well-respected — news, factual programming and children’s TV – resulting in up to 2,800 job losses over the next six years. Even the corporation’s world-famous broadcast journalists will not be spared in the mass cull.

As a child I hoped I’d grow up to become just like pearl-earring-wearing news correspondent Kate Adie or the late, great, crime-solving Jill Dando. Others idolized iconic Radio 4 presenters who helped to keep British culture and humour alive, or the Blue Peter presenters who pioneered educational entertainment and humanitarianism for children. It pains me that today’s equivalents, like Jeremy Paxman and John Humphrys, are being treated with such little respect. Even more disgraceful is the fact that Beeb bosses called its big-namers into “special meetings” when the ruckus began, urging them to stay on-side with the changes whilst leaving the rest of its workforce to rot in job-loss paranoia.

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s treatment of its hard-working, long-committed staff during recent talks has bought shame on one of the UK’s finest media institutions — with the company first discouraging strikes on site, then sending out template letters seeking volunteers for redundancy. Director general Mark Thompson has since become the face of blame for staff and general public alike, largely thanks to his act of coolly camouflaging a gross money-making scheme as a “cultural development” white paper.

Whilst other channels have always been twinned with the notion of soulless commerciality, the BBC has long considered itself a cut above. However, with its overpaid, outdated stars (inc. irritating one-trick pony Graham Norton) and ubiquitous desk monkey ‘executives’ being automatically saved from the big chop, this has been proven rather untrue. At the heart of the Beeb’s upcoming rebirth is NOT forward-thinking innovation as spouted by the salacious press office but a trust of rich, greedy dictators and a large sum of cash.

This, of course, begs the question: if all the BBC will be offering up from now on is second-rate news and more repeats, what exactly are us licence payers paying £100 a year for? Especially those of us who also pay to subscribe to satellite or cable packages but are still not spared from the terrestrial TV licence trap!

It’s hard to believe that the recent panic came as a result of the government announcing that the BBC’s licence fee would actually RISE, to £151.50 by 2012. Unfortunately, this was less than the Beeb had been expecting. Mr. Thompson responded by saying that the settlement figure left a “gap” of about £2bn over the six years. The BBC trust then asked Mr. Thompson to make further efficiency savings of 3% each year.

Sure, it’s a case of cause and effect – we all understand how the industry works and how the digital age has affected traditional TV – but why should cuts come from popular and informative programmes like Planet Earth and Top Gear? Short answer: money. Low-brow ‘entertainment’ such as Strictly Come Dancing is far more lucrative and thereby far more valuable to the Beeb.

Speaking of the digital age – with the BBC now launching its own online streaming service (where you can download your favourite BBC programmes directly to your computer for free) what right does the corporation have to demand an ever-rising fee for a dying medium?

It is becoming clear that the name of the once-prestigious, classically-British BBC is now permanently soiled. If the TV giant plans to ‘reinvent’ itself by pumping more big-number, no-brainer reality shows into the TV Guide, why don’t they sell out like compadres ITV, C4 and Five and charge for advertising? Could it be that penny-pinching the pockets of Britain’s television-owning population (whether they watch your rubbish channel or not) is more “cost-effective” than popping ad breaks in? More importantly, did they ask us, their financial backing and viewing audience, what we’d like to see sacrificed to profit?

It’s been a long time coming but I finally feel that it is time for us to boycott the Beeb by tuning out and switching off.

For years, this out-of-date channel has coasted along on an archaic reputation that no longer applies. Even worse — the BBC have recently used our hard-earned cash to reel off a series of sub-standard channels like BBC3 and BBC4, which have tiny viewing audiences. With no reference to its public, the BBC has cut its losses by axing the very programming that made it so excellent and unique — keeping instead the pop tart variety of television that can be found anywhere at any time.

Just like another much-disputed obligatory ‘tax’ one cannot choose to opt out of paying for the BBC – our own government enforces this by law, fining and prosecuting those who challenge it – but we can protest in another way: by refusing to watch all and any BBC programming. This way, the Beeb will pay for their blind-sighted ignorance in falling viewer figures. Since they have our money irregardless, do the Beeb really care whether we watch or not? Let’s find out!

Nobody claimed that TV wasn’t a corrupt business (just look at the movie Network for clues) but the flailing BBC should now be left to its own devices, not supported by our own governmental administration! You can damn well work for your advertising revenue, BBC, just like everyone else! We should no longer be legally forced to pay for it, especially in light of recent events that have damaged its validity, popularity and worthiness.

I urge you to press this, pass it on, link to it, or comment in support of the BBC Boycott. Switch off and switch over to C4 or ITV! Peppered with ugly, mindless commercials they may be but at least they’re not asking us to stump up for a service that should be free – like in most countries across the globe, where just buying a TV set is enough! I’d rather watch the Dairy Milk gorilla or even Carol ‘First Plus’ Vorderman than pay for something I don’t watch and – bar Spooks, Question Time and the odd nature documentary – no longer enjoy.

Only by ‘striking’ against the BBC can we actually have an input in what the company are doing with the money they steal from us without consultation. Only by refusing to watch Channels 1 and 2 can we protest against crucial job cuts in news, factual programming and children’s TV – the very backbone of the British televisual experience!

Boycott the British Broadcasting Corporation! Ban the Beeb! Turn off your BBC channels until either the government revoke obligatory TV licences or until the BBC take their cost-cutting, damage-limitation bullshit elsewhere. Here’s a hint: start with the who-cares?-comedy-crap on BBC3 and BBC4!