Andrew Tettenborn: Patronising BBC quango queen pledges even more identity politics

Next month, you may have forgotten, it's all change at the top for the hapless BBC, the leviathan that swallows roughly £150 from nearly every household in the kingdom and comfortable home to a complacent, soft-left, pro-European high-spending monoculture.

Out goes the BBC Trust, a quango of well-meaning media types and assorted paid-up members of the great and the good for whom the annual bung of £32,000 no doubt comes in useful. In comes … a superquango, in the shape of Ofcom, a Blair-era corporate outfit which is happy to provide its services for only £9 million per year – think the entire licence fee for Exeter. The omens are not good.

Ofcom is not a cultural organisation. It is actually a corporation of box-tickers, number-crunchers and enforcers: up to now its main jobs have been licensing broadcasters and keeping them to the terms of their licence, regulating telephone and broadband providers and distributing the electromagnetic spectrum. All right: that might make it ideal to audit the accounts and impose some financial discipline. But no: that’s the job of the national Audit Office. So what will Ofcom do?

We now know, from the Chief Executive of Ofcom herself, one Sharon White, in a speech at the Oxford Media Convention (organised by the left-leaning think-tank IPPR) this week. And it doesn’t make enjoyable reading. Tougher, stronger regulation to ensure diversity is what she wants: and please note, this does not seem to mean diversity of points of view (if only), but rather diversity of workers reckoned by gender, origin and race, and where necessary quotas to make sure it happens.

Content she’s also apparently quite happy to dictate. When she says that the BBC must “lead” in meeting the challenge of people who “feel that they are neutrally portrayed at best, or negatively at worst”, and that “audiences must feel protected”, this sounds like corporate-speak for “I will intervene if a pressure-group makes itself sufficiently obnoxious.” The middle-aged and middle class have much too much say; there is not enough “edgy” or “relevant” content for that pampered group “youth”. Not enough edginess? I’ll introduce another box to tick to make sure the quota is fulfilled for this quarter.

And, of course, we all have the greatest confidence in Sharon White’s judgment. She approves of distinctiveness; rather in the same way, one suspects, as a bishop approves of virtue. And she suggests, apparently with a straight face, that “many of the BBC’s most-loved programmes – EastEnders, Match of the Day or its radio breakfast shows – are distinctive and original in their own way”. This left at least one person gasping and stretching his eyes (remember Hilaire Belloc’s Matilda, who “told such dreadful lies, It made you gasp and stretch your eyes”?); but then clearly I must have been missing something.

Apart from the usual excess of modish cliché, what’s depressing about this whole speech is just how arrogant it all is. Even if we like matters such as nostalgia (of which Ms White tells us we have too much), we must be given the BBC that is good for us: in exchange for the index-linked sums to be mulcted from us via the television tax (aka licence fee), we must be fed relevancy and told, whether we want is or not, what a wonderful, diverse place Britain is.

And not only arrogant: it is also supremely patronising. Women? Give them programmes about dominant and successful women, or it stands to reason they’ll feel left out. Northerners, or Asians, or young people? They clearly can’t empathise with programmes that aren’t about them and don’t address their concerns; and so on.  The fact that some groups might want to escape from their own narrow enclaves is beside the point. The focus groups have spoken; that’s an end of the matter.

Of course, those outside the comforting government and media bubble realise that there are other ways to do things. One might be to say that all points of view are always welcome on the air-waves, and that any tendency to monolithic uniformity will be frowned on and if necessary suppressed.

Another – horror of horrors – might be recognition that, despite the 11-year stay of execution it has just received, the licence fee is an immoral impost that is ultimately doomed. It would be perfectly possible to make the BBC a subscription channel.

At least that way, when faced with the drearily politically-correct future we are promised by the redoubtable Sharon White, we could just switch channels and save some money as well.

Andrew Tettenborn

  • Simmo

    Gotta be said “Trannies On The Telly” has got a rather good illiterative ring to it …

    • Simmo

      “Bi’s On The Beeb”

      Any more?

  • James Chilton

    “……diversity is what she wants: and please note, this does not seem to mean diversity of points of view.”

    In the lefty Lexicon of Paradoxes, “diversity” means everyone chanting the same slogans.

    • Harley Quin

      Diversity within the narrow view parameters of political correctness.

    • Davidsb

      I’m working on the theory (until proven otherwise) that Ms White will be bringing her private-sector honed management skills to bear on the massive project of dragging the BBC into the 21st century.

      Sadly, Wikipedia has chosen to omit from her profile this (some might say essential) private-sector experience, concentrating instead on her time at the Treasury, the Diplomatic Service, the Downing Street Policy Unit, the World Bank, the Department for International Development, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions, before finally joining Ofcom.

      ;¬)

  • Thomas Fuller

    Don’t tune in to the BBC. Life is sweeter that way.

    • Reborn

      Except for BBC Radio Three

      • Thomas Fuller

        Alas, they lost me when they joined wholeheartedly in the nauseating hagiofest for N. R. Mandela (deceased), Sean Rafferty being the worst offender.

        • archer

          They lost me ( for a day) when they devoted themselves to women’s day.

          • Labour_is_bunk

            You get a mini-women’s-day each Breakfast programme, because they just HAVE to showcase a woman composer, regardless of artistic merit.

          • archer

            Indeed. And this afternoon, they are at it again, with an Early Music Show devoted to…yes…you’ve guessed, women composers.
            When the next demand for a licence fee comes, I am going to write back and tell them I will no longer use a television set because the BBC has become a feminist propaganda machine. It’s all on the internet anyway.

        • Reborn

          Funny how Mandela has become a latter day saint, though
          not mentioned so much lately.
          The fact that his regime did not murder whites, though it killed thousands of non ANC supporting Africans, suggests his worshippers are
          white racists at heart.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Agreed They may take our money, they cant take our soul

  • choccycobnobs

    Probably the only reason that these pointless quangos and the biased BBC continue, is that politicians depend on them as a sort of additional retirement income for when they leave politics. Factor in possibilities for their sprogs to climb on the gravy train and what we see is a vast job creation scheme.
    It would take a revolution to change things.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    It seems to me the more we are told what is good for us the less we believe what we are told. The BBC is no longer there to meet our desire for accurate information and entertainment. Instead, it has become a self-appointed state propaganda machine, the guardian and gate-keeper of our national culture and psyche; something it is supremely unqualified to do. My main concern about the BBC however is its financing. The TV Tax is a monumental injustice to the many who don’t watch their output but are forced to pay for something they didn’t buy. I see the BBC as an edifice to a culturally marxist world-view that has poisoned Western society. I don’t say it should be shut down, because I do believe all opinions should be heard, even if it is just to reveal how idiotic they are. But the viewer must have the choice of not paying for it.

    • Bonce

      The BBC has not become a self appointed state propaganda machine,the BBC was set up as the state propaganda machine and government has always been involved in its news and political output.
      The only thing that has changed is that more people have become aware of its political bias, because the governing class and the plebs have completing opposing objectives and dreams in comparison to previous generations.
      The governing class are continuing to build a bigger state, increasing nation debt, maintaining a bloated welfare state, with open borders, and moving towards a global government structure and new “global population”. Wheras the people are getting taxed more and more, taking home less and seeing house prices continue to go up and up and disagree with all of the governing classes priorities.

  • Dustybookwyrm

    The BBC are what I consider to be a centrist organisation, trying to bridge the divide between Offical, Regulated, Elitist, Centralised Establishment and Independent, Deregulated, Populist, Decentralised Counter-Culture.

    Which, naturally enough, frequently resembles the auditory organs of porkers, as they try to impose offically sanctioned levels of independence or uniform levels of diversity….

    Far better were the Reithian days, when it did not seek to join the counter-culture but was firmly and reliably a voice of the Establishment (against which the counter-culture rebelled, eventually resulting in them infiltrating the BBC and twisting it into the mutant we see today). Then we knew the BBC were reliably a voice for Establishment (and thus were conservative in the truest meaning) and were worth the licence fee. Now though they have become a punk-and-hippy-tainted chimera.

    Improvement would require a return to the previously far more professional standards, discarding the counter-culture, but that is unlikely happen given just how deeply such is inserted in modern society.

    • James Chilton

      The BBC couldn’t defy the Zeitgeist and remain in business, even if it wanted to.

      • Dustybookwyrm

        The counter-culture is winning because:

        * after WWII the Establishment surrendered for fear of being called “fascist”

        * modern transport and communications technology inherently favours the
        counter-culture

        To undo that ‘success’ would require people of genuine Establishment values (listed above) to take back power and for the modern media and transport to be seriorusly curtailed. That is unlikely to happen until the counter-culture drive us over the cliff.

        • James Chilton

          Can you name anyone with “genuine Establishment values” who is in a position to take back power? I implied, in my previous comment, that such people don’t exist. They are all suffering from the same cultural disease.

          • Dustybookwyrm

            They exist, but they have no media footprint.

        • Harley Quin

          The counter culture is now the established culture, and had been the dominant culture for decades,

          • Dustybookwyrm

            It’s the dominant culture, yes, but it is not Established (because its nature is chaotic and protean).

            The counter-culture infiltrated the Establishment, took it over, and turned it away from its inherent values (hence how academia is being destroyed by post-modernism, law & order are being destroyed by a victim cult, the Church is being turned into a Right-on social club, etc).

            Such is a kind of middle-ground chimera made up by forcing together two opposites.

            Which explains the mess…

          • Reborn

            Exactly.
            How can Labour be the islamic party while at the same time claim to be the party of feminism ?
            And gays ?
            And the ‘working class’ ?

    • Under-the-weather

      The whole point of being funded by licence fee rather than advertising, is an expectation that the BBC is independent, so favouring neither political side, or intending to create a need for rebellion which requires a fixed culture to rebel against

  • Recently I have been researching a lady know as Liza, born in 1863 in London and orphaned as an infant. She later is found in one of the worst slums, Houghton Street, now LSE, not far from Covent Garden. It is quite possible that when GB Shaw was walking through in the 1870’s she bullied him into buying flowers. In a long hard life she rose to be a respected boarding house keeper in Blackpool. I suspect this is not the kind of woman that the BBC are interested in.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    We need to recognise that the BBC and OFCOM are simply tools of the Deep State and need to be put under democratic control.

  • Simmo

    I want more Trannies On The Telly (tm Simmo 2017). The ones you do see are relatively well transitioned. Once more is seen of the majority of self-obsessed, mentally ill gimps, and how rediclious they are, then the whole edifice of gender identity will rot away.

    • Vera

      Could be the start of ……………………no can’t say that! Was watching an episode of Yes Prime Minister and remarked why couldn’t we see quality comedy series like that anymore. There were so many a few years back, good dramas too. Now it is so much rubbish that I can barely be bothered to watch.

      • Reborn

        Yes Minister & it successor were made as sophisticated political satire.
        Today, they are documentaries.
        Modern politics is beyond satire, since there are no accepted standards
        of behaviour, as demonstrated by recent acquisitions by the Lords,
        and the behaviour of the Blairs, Kinnocks etc

    • Or the ones portrayed on soaps, male to female, are played by an actress, not a postoperative transgender.

  • Alan

    When someone claims they want to ‘promote diversity’ what they really mean is that they are racists who beieve that people of different skin shades cannot compete equally.

    Those of us opposed to this identity politics nonsense should call them out on it at every opportunity.

  • The Sun is The Bloody Rag of Hillsborough, and the persecutor of my friend (yes, still my friend), Tom Watson. The Times employs Oliver Kamm, the tormentor of my friend, Neil Clark. But try as I might to work myself up about Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to purchase the rest of Sky, I cannot bring myself to do so. What would such an acquisition make any worse?

    The BBC gives little or no platform to those who understand the lesson of the EU referendum result in the United Kingdom, and of the election of Donald Trump in the United States, which is that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who locate identity issues within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who welcome the fact that the EU referendum was decided by those areas which voted Leave while voting Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru for other purposes, and which have thus made themselves the centre of political attention, except, of course, on the BBC.

    The BBC gives little or no platform to those who celebrate the leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and the leading role in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have opposed from the start the failed programme of economic austerity. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who opposed Tony Blair’s privatisation of the NHS and other public services, his persecution of the disabled, and his assault on civil liberties, all of which have continued under every subsequent Government.

    The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have opposed every British military intervention since 1997. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who oppose Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and who reject the demonisation of Russia. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have the real eyes to realise real lies, recognising that the truly fake news is propagated in support of the economic policies of neoliberal austerity and the foreign policies of neoconservative war.

    The BBC gives little or no platform to those who reject any approach to climate change which would threaten existing or potential jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. The BBC gives little or no platform to those who seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And the BBC gives little or no platform to those who refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

    Over-concentrated media ownership, especially by a foreign national who is not based in this country, is inherently problematic. But in the very great scheme that is these things, the biggest problem is not Rupert Murdoch. He already owns a lot of Sky, on which the much-maligned RT does indeed provide these platforms. He now also owns talkRADIO, on which they are provided by the much-maligned George Galloway, whom Murdoch has not sacked, and who is a friend and comrade of mine and of Neil Clark’s. As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Murdoch might even do some good.

    • Harley Quin

      If the country is headed deeper and deeper into massive debt with every year that passes, I fail to see what other policy than ‘austerity’ there realistically can be,

      Anyway, having lived through years of real austerity post war when a tin of soup was a luxury for many families, sugar was still rationed, chicken was on the table perhaps once or twice a year, there was no electrical items apart from a radio, a cooker and perhaps a vacuum cleaner; most people did not own a tv or a car; holidays abroad were unheard of for ordinary families; people rarely or never ate out etc etc, talk of ‘austerity’ nowadays is risible.

      • Bob Marshall

        Yes indeed. I remember those days clearly — and I also remember very few complaining about it either. I’m not saying this is where we should be heading, but all this hyperbole about ‘austerity’ and ‘poverty’ is starting to sound very dated and increasingly bizzare.

      • wiggiatlarge .

        When a spoonful of malt at school was the nearest one got to sweets !

      • Reborn

        Life, even for the middle classes was austere in the post war period, up to about
        1960.
        In 1952 the government gave each household a piece of paper to celebrate the
        Coronation. It was a coupon that entitled us to buy, with our own cash,
        for that week only, an extra pound of sugar.
        Today, the UK is so short of poverty that we have to import well fed Roma
        to sell the Big Issue. Working in shifts.

    • Mojo

      Agree with your post. I have posted my reply above as I am being moderated on your post.

  • A50orFight

    It’s really very simple: dont pay them one single red penny.

    • Mojo

      Agree with your post. I would also add, loathe or love Murdoch he was hounded by a UK media who felt threatened. Everything they accused him of they are still doing and probably worse. His UK holdings are peanuts to his worldwide holdings, only held out of respect for his father. BBC are now trying to shut down RT.com. They have been asking for more airtime but Russia has refused.

  • Harley Quin

    The basic approach is that people will get what authority says they will get, not what they prefer.

    Not, ‘you pays your money and you takes your pick’, more, ‘you pays your money and you get what they pick.’

    Much the same as in the USSR, in fact.

  • Ravenscar

    A rather acutely observed post, dripping sarcasm.

    Sarcasm, irony, literary metaphor, polemic all arts seemly lost amid the cultural annhiliation of a very wretched post modern era and God knows where knowledge has disappeared to. Post modernism, where conformity is demanded and all and any original thought is shrieked down by the harpies of political correctness. If you’ve ever even perused some modern literature or should I call it throwing a few thousand words together and usually ghost scribed, at that, it’s quite appallingly banal, it causes the reader to grind one’s teeth. Yet, beeboid cognoscenti lap it up and raise up such as children’s authoress JK Rowling to be some sort of latter day omniscient genius and elegant wordsmith, just how far are standards fallen?

    Fallen are al beeb, navel gazing, hidebound by the nihilistic smorgasbord of scorched reheated critical theory revivalist Marxism, no wonder the country is thirsting, desperate for better fare but there is no let up, who can say that Sky and ITV provide better meats?

    What never ceases to amaze and astound me, the cocksure demeanour of unelected apparats, though, we know groupthink is their only staff. Vacant smiles but lord what white teeth you have ‘grandma’! All white and shiny but not so white eh? It do seem to be the priority and gaily gallivanting through the ever revolving doors of public sector /corporate office bureaucracies, are by word of mouth and who you know not what, are shoed in to posts and positions of some considerable power.
    These shills and mouthpieces – who’ve never done a real hard day or stroke in their lives, who know nothing of life, nothing of real debate [they shut it down and University is the place where they learn that], still less about and of objectivity and all the time lecturing the proles on what to do and how high it is that they [‘we’] must all jump.

    Sharon White, went to Cambridge but so what, she studied Economics – economics???? Good grief and she’s lived far too long in the North London salons, the posh suburbs of Washington/upper east side NYC Alinskyite illiberal bubble, on most things – even entertainment, now that she is the gatekeeper, what could she possibly bring to the table, other than, MORE – more homogenized liberal pap?

    Cripes, even thin gruel is more ‘edible’ than that. Now turn on, France24, Russia Today, even Fox news, at least it’s an alternative viewpoint, even if most of it is of dubious provenance.

    In the end, t’internet – it’s the only place: right.

  • Labour_is_bunk

    Let me disassociate myself from public sector number-crunchers, as mentioned in the article.

    Us private-sector number-crunchers do have the cold, unforgiving wind of competitiveness blowing across our backs.

  • Mike17

    Northerners, or Asians, or young people? They clearly can’t empathise with programmes that aren’t about them and don’t address their concerns; and so on.

    I take it that that comment was made by a Southerner. Come and live in the north of England, or better still, Scotland, and gain a different perspective. A minor example. The best a BBC weather presenter can do is refer to ‘West Scotland’ but when it comes to England we get ‘west Cornwall’ or ‘east Kent’.

  • LewisDuckworth

    Project Tony Blair – “rub their noses in diversity” – marches on and the Conservatives help it on its march.