Galloway slams BBC culture and executive pay

Daniel Pryor September 20, 2013 19
Galloway slams BBC culture and executive pay

gg_smallThe Backbencher’s Daniel Pryor caught up with George Galloway (Respect MP for Bradford West) in order to discuss his attitude towards the BBC. Although ‘libertarian’ is just about the last word that should be used to describe Mr Galloway, his criticisms of Britain’s state-funded broadcaster are surprisingly vitriolic. Although not going so far as to call for privatisation, he did have this to say when asked whether the licence fee has a place in Britain today:

“I still think the licence fee is probably still the least worst way of funding the BBC, but that can only be justifiable if the BBC truly is a public service broadcaster. And it palpably isn’t. Or only a tiny percentage of its programme can be so defined. I don’t want to watch my programmes dotted with ads, or sponsored by global corporations which would surely have an even greater effect on
its independence.

If there’s a better method of funding then no one has come up with a convincing model.My point is that the BBC is swollen, does things it shouldn’t be doing and is competing for ratings with the commercial channels. Could anyone really discern any difference between the two main BBC channels and the commercial broadcasters? I seriously doubt it. The BBC shouldn’t be funding orchestras or running local radio stations that are identical to commercial ones.”

Galloway recently took to social media to express his ire, tweeting that he’d “had enough” of the BBC:

He continues:

“I want the BBC to be distinctive and different, not grey and boring, unusual, surprising, not stuffed with vacuous game shows, holiday shows and house conversions. Leave that to the other side. Personally I would like more movies, more current affairs, sport – the Beeb has scrapped the tackle on that one – plays, music, and genuinely innovative and excellent shows from Britain and abroad. Is it significant that two of the most recent ground-breaking shows I can think of, The Wire and Breaking Bad, were ignored by Auntie. I could go on.”

The quality of BBC programming wasn’t the only issue that Mr Galloway highlighted with the institution:

The pay of senior executives is a scandal. They are all of a type too, Oxbridge, glorified civil servants. They go in after university and they stay there for life. It’s incestuous, it’s cushy, it’s well-paid and it’s unchallenging. And they replicate themselves, the Clives and Samanthas. The argument used to be advanced that they had to pay these huge salaries so they wouldn’t go to ITV or abroad. Well, if so, let them. I think the quality of BBC programming is at an all-time low, or at least an all-time low in my experience. And the recent farce involving Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust exemplifies the incompetence. The Trust should be sacked tomorrow but don’t turn it all over to Ofcom, which is degrees worse.”

BBC Pay

The salaries of BBC executives both past and present have been repeatedly condemned by commentators across the political spectrum. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph recently, Sir David Attenborough commented that it was “a huge embarrassment that salaries of that size are being paid in a public service organisation”. Exorbitant pay aside, detractors often accuse the BBC of bias – something which Mr Galloway believes exists:

“And it’s undeniable there is bias, and it’s that smug, condescending kind. Now I don’t mind if someone is overtly biased, I can deal with that, the viewer can discern it, but what I can’t stand is this pretence of impartiality. Bias, of whatever kind, starts with the decision to choose a subject and how to handle it. I am all for varied opinion, controversy, but I can’t stand the pretence that it is even-handed and must be so because it is sanctified by the BBC.”

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