Friday, October 31, 2008

Time to pick sides

I thought that we were all agreed that it is generally a mistake to pay a ransom? Appeasing kidnappers, like meeting the terms of blackmailers, is a strictly one-way street. Pay today? New hostages tomorrow! New, greedier demands the next day.

If a bully gives you a poke in the eye on Monday, turn up on Tuesday with a Stanley Knife. It’s the only language that they understand.

Sir Michael Lyons, in a bid to cover up his non-existent legitimacy, has paid the ransom. He’s turned up to a fight that he should have always known he would have to have with a sick-note. A perfectly good broadcaster has been sacked. An entertaining and talented comedian has resigned. The BBC has had one of its most important strategies – the need to compete for talent and provide a universal service that can match its light-entertainment rivals – taken off it.

Lyons has failed his first test. He has failed to stand up to a rival and he has capitulated. He’s paid the ransom. He should be sacked.

Yet I’m not sure that this is absolutely clear to everyone, so let’s just rehearse a few things that we already know, shall we? Firstly, the political right have suffered a crushing ideological defeat in the last few weeks. Something that they won’t properly recover from for some time. They will, naturally, turn all of their resources away from asserting their economic position, and instead, they will play the only card they have left: The cultural one.

In a month when a need for effective regulation has been established more firmly than ever before, we can expect a very short respite from the centre-right’s routine attacks on parliament and parliamentarians. But there is still the old question of dealing with competitors. Newscorp and The Daily Mail represent wider interests that would like to see the destruction of the other pillar of liberal democracy: Public Service Broadcasting.

Not only does PSB represent an immediate competitor to the commercial interests of Newscorp and The Mail, it also represents an enemy in the Culture Wars that the these outlets have been waging for decades. PSB needs to be popular. It also needs to be able to take risks. Both will be harder, and PSB’s rivals will be gloating this weekend. The BBC’s ability to be creative – it’s very lifeblood – has been threatened – and those who should be stopping this from happening have, instead, aided and abetted the whole process.

This is an intolerable defeat. The Poujadists have recruited the management and regulators of their opponents in their cause, and it will damage the one organisational model that we British should still be urging the rest of the world to adopt. I hope you don't think that I usually go for simple narratives or slogans, but nothing else is needed in this case:

Defend the BBC!
Sack Sir Michael Lyons!
Reinstate Lesley Douglas!
Be prepared to fight and win next time!

And know who your enemy is.


Will said...

"the one organisational model that we British should still be urging the rest of the world to adopt."

correction -- we should also be urging the rest of the world to adopt the NHS model of healthcare. That too is the best there is and no other fucking system comes close to matching it.

Johnny Guitar said...

Well said (and you as well Will). I just can't believe that the BBC succumbed so quickly to these cunts. They withstood a far larger barrage from Islamic elements over the Jyllands-Posten cartoons and from the Christian Voice lobby over Jerry Springer - The Opera. The thing that really irritates me is that only two people originally complained about this show. These 30,000 people are getting offended about something they haven't actually heard. I recall a similar thing occurring back in 2001 with the Channel 4 Brasseye special on paedophilia (and it was the Mail that whipped that one up too).

I suppose we're just going have to make do with My Family and After You've Gone now. Or Two Fucking Pints of Lager… if we really want to get 'cutting edge'.

The Plump said...

The only thing that I would differ on is that a "perfectly good broadcaster" has been lost. I would say a perfectly irritating broadcaster has been lost. But then, someone who is irritating to a pompous old fart like me is probably perfectly good.

John B said...

@ JG - I think the BBC's problem here was that the show is much harder to defend on artistic grounds than JSTO or the Brass Eye Special - both of those were genuine comedy masterpieces, whereas this was just some mildly amusing banter.

cian said...

I don't entirely buy this. I agree the whole thing has been blown ludicrously out of proportion for political/mercantile reasons. And yes, the controller of radio 2 shouldn't have been sacked (sorry, have been forced to *resign*). And god its a boring story, particularly when there's so much real news going on at the moment (the solution was apparently switching to Al-Jazeera news on TV, or the world service on the radio. There's a whole world out there - who knew).

That said, I do think the broadcast was unacceptable, for all the reasons that much of the output of the Sun is unacceptable (and should be similarly banned). You don't harass, or humiliate, people in this manner unless you have a very good reason. The thing about Brass Eye was those people deserved it. Chris Morris gave them the rope, and they chose to use it. I can't see how Andrew Sachs, or his daughter, deserved this, or what possible public interest was served. It was just nasty.

The right thing probably would have been for the BBC to have apologised, suspended both broadcasters and just banned this kind of "edgy" bullying.

Tim J said...

I'm with Cian - it's not a particularly big story, or at least it shouldn't be, but it's worth pointing out that what Brand and Ross did was not only unpleasant but was also probably illegal.

So attack the Mail if you like for making such a meal of the whole thing, but if you give the BBC a free pass you're being a bit too generous.

Paulie said...

I started to draft a reply to these comments but it got a bit long and turned into a new post - here.

Poet in Residence said...

John B and The Plump echo some of my views. Although I've never seen the so-called so-called show I can imagine that it's basically a lot of schoolboy tripe and twaddle.
So, where's Bernard Manning when we need him? At least, whatever you care to say about him, he had the comedian's quality of being funny.

bernard said...

'Defend the BBC' - what sort of ridiculous exhortation is that??
You're out on your own there, mate.
Most would love to see the license abandoned, and only slightly less would like the rotten corporation consigned to the scrapheap of history.

Paulie said...

Fuck off Bernard.

ShaneMcC said...

Not sure I entirely agree with the reinstate Lesley Douglas line. I was listening to Paul Gambachini on R5 and his line (whilst defending Lesley) was that she fired (or moved) about 6 producers because Brand had complained about them for sticking up to him.

According to PG Brand simply got everything he wanted and no BBC producers were allowed to control his excesses.

It would seem that Lesley Douglas inadvertently was the architect of the problem.

passer by said...

In an open society there is no place for any sort of state or state sponsored,sanctioned or mandated media. This is the real choice you need to make.

cian said...

I don't think Gambachini is a reliable source on Brand. He's had it in for him from the moment he was hired.

"Passer By" - surely in an open society individuals would think for themselves, rather than spouting pseduo-religious dogma. You twit.

passer by said...

Cian, Nothing religious at all, its grounded in material fact, Govt, whatever their colour should not have any access or control of any broadcast media, the reason seems obvious to me to be one of FREE SPEECH, I know its an old fashioned progressive Liberal idea, but its one close to my Twittish heart.

I am sure you will understand what I mean when the Govt, in the shape of the EU comes knocking on the door of blogs in the name of public sensibility and start licensing blogs and then onto the internet in general. (china here we come?)

If the above was enshrined in constitutional law, this would never be an option. Its only through institutions like the BBC that govts think they can set broadcast standards, (in the public good of course) as the Brand/Ross case demonstrates.

I also think it amply demonstrates why the BBC is now a defunct model in the new media age, where anyone can set up their own newspaper, tv channel ect with very little money or time.

A clear divide between the public and private spheres would solve these issues and would force people like me who "cannot think for themselves" to not tune into the BBC/quasi official line and narratives (as it would not be there) and really think for themselves, which I think is what your want is it not?

Paulie said...

Passer by: I have a memebot deletion policy. Go somewhere else, eh?

VicePilot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
passer by said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
passer by said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
passer by said...

I always think deleted posts dont look good on your blog, what do you think?

Paulie said...

I love them.

They demonstrate conviction.

passer by said...

Conviction hey, I am with Nassim Taleb on that, travel light and you will travel further.

But them again, being a Forest fan the most you will travel is Plymouth.

terrycollmann said...

They demonstrate conviction

Nah - they demonstrate a cowardly egoist who can't stand being contradicted. It's the blogger's equivalent of the two-year-old's tantrum.

cian said...

It depends doesn't it. Deleting them because they're winning the argument is one thing. Deleting them for stupidity is another. In this case we have someone who thinks that the BBC broadcasts government propaganda and produces a paranoid rant about the EU censoring the internet. That's pretty stupid.

Paulie said...

Blog yourself, do you Terry?

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