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Daniel Johnson: Charles, you object to the continuing employment of Jonathan Ross and you've decided that as long as he is still at the BBC you won't pay your licence fee. I know this is part of a wider critique of the BBC, but why do you feel so strongly as to risk prosecution?

Charles Moore: Well, sometimes a particular event brings to the fore something that has been going on for ages, and the Jonathan Ross affair was the BBC's credit crunch. So he is, as it were, its Fred Goodwin. What it exposes is how a culture has gone wrong. What you have is the triumphalism of the organisation and the over-indulgence of the star, at the expense of the presumed and often stated values of the corporation, and at the expense of the interests of the licence payer. 

And so a corruption that has been building for a long time suddenly appears manifest and dramatic, so that the chap who is paid more than anybody has ever been paid in the history of the BBC by miles — and presumably where your treasure is, there should your heart be also — makes these telephone calls with Russell Brand to Andrew Sachs. And the point about them is not just that they were vile phone calls — this wasn't just off-duty misbehaviour of a star. This was for the show. No, the big idea was that it was a very funny thing to do and that it should be broadcast. And right down the line all the key people either agreed or did nothing about it. And so you could see the whole organisation from star to editor to gofer agreeing with it and, judging by what came out afterwards, thinking how marvellous it was. And then only afterwards beginning to think. 

And that showed to me this systemic problem, in which the BBC has lost touch with what it is supposed to be. And since we the listeners or viewers have no power in this matter because we can't take our business elsewhere, the only way that I feel one can effectively protest is to refuse to pay the licence fee. And go on watching TV. I'm going to challenge the BBC's right to make me pay it just to watch TV.

DJ: Christopher, you were Chairman of the BBC Governors from 1996 to 2001 and still strongly support the corporation's broad principles. Why is Charles wrong to be doing what he's doing?

Christopher Bland: I don't think he is wrong. I think Ross should have been fired. I think it was egregiously bad behaviour. Where I would disagree with Charles is in two things: I don't think the BBC's response was triumphal. It was inadequate, it was late, it wasn't thought through, and it didn't deal with the key protagonists anything like severely enough. But it wasn't triumphal — the BBC knew that it had got it wrong, it just didn't respond in a sufficiently firm way.

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jose
December 22nd, 2009
4:12 AM
is that guy trying to demostrate the BBC is not liberal?

Sue
October 15th, 2009
11:10 AM
When are so called conservatives going to stand up and speak the truth to and about the likes of Russ Limbaugh and the other raving-loonies who are now the public face of the GOP in the USA.

Valentinus
October 12th, 2009
10:10 PM
IIt is always much better when Charles Moore's strange views about the BBC are out in the open rather than working corrosively and without scrutiny to undermine public service broadcasting. When he is subject to proper examination, the transparent ideological bias of his position is routinely and drearily exposed. There is a simple task for Charles Moore: Charles, close thy Telegraph and open thy Radio Times. Do what I do. Take about 1 hour on a Saturday morning and look, just look, at what you get for your license fee over the course of 7 days. Then look us straight in the eye and try telling us that we can get this cornucopia of culture, sport, news, drama, music, current affairs and entertainment for anything like that cost base and efficiency. In fact, Charles, we can't get it at all, even if we paid ten times the license fee. My father pays the equivalent of my license fee for three months of a couple of Sky Sports and movie channels, nothing more. I might have said the equivalent of HIS license fee, but he is over 75 and gets the BBC (all of it) for nothing. Yes, nothing. And you know? Two thirds of what he watches, listens to and enjoys never comes near me. And three quarters of what I watch, listen to and enjoy never goes near him. Welcome to the BBC. I have noticed, in short, a common thread among anti-BBC ideologues: they don't actually know what's on. This seems a curious position from which to attack anything and explains why they need daft episodes such as L'Affair Ross on which to hang their opposition. I do wonder if guys like Charles actually know this deep down and that's why they evade it. For dull cultureless people with year-round tans like the Murdochs it is in a sense a much more honest conflict: their implacable hatred of the BBC originates in the obstacle public sector broadcasting presents to the expansion of their wealth and global power. But my advice to Murdoch Junior would be the same: close they Friedman, open thy Radio Times. I guarantee you'll find something to assuage the unbearable lightness of being. And it will probably cost you about 14p. As for the rest of the so-called argument? Bring it on.

IC
September 27th, 2009
5:09 PM
It is not surprising that the BBC's head of comedy is gloomy. Most BBC "comedy" programmes nowadays are puerile or revolting, without wit or humour - compare these with the shows that the BBC used to make, or the sharp US comedies shown on other channels.

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