21 January 2010 (Thursday) - Some Ranting

I have often commented on how much I like Radio Four. But last night they were talking rubbish. As I drove home, there was a discussion about “the unique way in which the BBC is funded”. This got me thinking (and ranting!)

ITV and Channel 4 are paid for by the adverts and so are free. I like that. If I want the free satellite channels, then I get a FreeView box. My mother has done that, and she’s very happy with it. Me – I want a thousand channels of rubbish, and I’m prepared to pay forty quid a month to do so. But (and here is the crux of my rant) if I don’t want satellite TV, then fine, I don’t have to have it.

I don’t have the option not to have the BBC. I must buy the TV licence which funds the BBC. The licence costs me twelve quid each month. And I have to pay this – I get fined if I don’t.

Last night the BBC were trying to justify the compulsory nature of the licence fee. And not making a very good job of it. In the past they have claimed that if people weren’t forced to pay the licence fee, then the BBC wouldn’t be able to afford to run Radio Three, because no one listens to it. Surely that isn’t a justification for extorting twelve quid out of me every month. If anything, it’s a valid reason for closing down Radio Three with immediate effect.

The idiot being interviewed last night claimed that the management at the BBC were very happy to replace the licence fee with a subscription. After all, loads of people pay nearly forty quid every month to Sky TV. Surely they wouldn’t begrudge a payment of twelve quid a month to the Beeb.

I don’t see that argument. For my forty quid to Sky I get several hundred TV channels, and a hundred radio channels. What does the BBC offer?

Nine TV channels, seven of which are not available without some sort of set-top box. And twelve radio channels, of which only radios one, two, four and five would seem to be used by anyone.

All of which I get with my Sky subscription anyway.

The presenter wittered on about the BBC being an “Institution”. I wouldn’t say that it is an institution that I can’t afford, just that it’s an institution I would rather someone else funded.

A colleague and I have been talking about Dover beer festival, which is now only three weeks away. I had intended to give a link to the festival’s beer list today, but I can’t as the list isn’t available yet. Bearing in mind how we played last year’s visit to Dover, I’m tempted to do the same again this year. Turn up at the Maison Dieu at 10.30am, pay £2 admission fee, and buy the glass for £3. Guzzle two pints at the festival (which will equate to four pints of your “average” ale and cost a fiver), then adjourn to Blake’s for a crafty half, and then visit some of the better pubs in Folkestone for the afternoon. A quick check of the Internet shows me that Wales are playing England at rugby that day, so hopefully we can get something traditionally Welsh (leek stew, perhaps) at the Lifeboat. If any of my loyal readers fancy a pint at the seaside, please let me know.

Talking of excessive amounts of beer, following one or two email exchanges, I’ve decided to relocate the pub crawl planned for Feb 22nd to Maidstone rather than Hastings. There’s a provisional route here, but like most plans, I doubt if it will bear much relation to actual events.

And talking of pubs, in the past I have been a firm advocate of. Beer in the Evening - a wonderful website, where you can review pubs, find good pubs, plan pub crawls…

Well, to be honest it used to be a wonderful web site. Now you can still review pubs, but a lot of the reviews are so obviously publicans bigging up their own pubs and slating the opposition. And there are a lot of people trolling the web site for no other reason than that they can. The option to add new pubs is no longer there – pubs that were suggested over two years ago haven’t been added.

The website has a forum, and in that forum the website’s owner has implied that he intends to do nothing more with the web site. Why should he go to the trouble of actually expending effort on it when the advertising revenue he’s getting from it is more than adequate?

I can see his point. He’s not doing it for fun – he’s doing it for financial gain. And so he wants maximum profit for minimum effort, and he’s getting just that.

The strength of Beer in the Evening has been its pub reviewers. I’ve reviewed close on two hundred pubs over the years. Whilst I enjoy doing so, my written reviews have contributed to the site’s profitability. And from the comments on the Beer in the Evening forum, whilst my contributions are welcome, I as a contributor feel that I have been treated with not a small amount of contempt.

Today I got an email from another regular Beer in the Evening contributor. It would seen that twenty of so of the more regular contributors have defected to another website. Pubs Galore is very similar to Beer in the Evening in concept. It doesn’t (yet) have as exhaustive a pub listing, but with management that is keen to have the site evolving, it will only be a matter of time….


  1. Don't you think the date is a bit of wishful thinking?

  2. Woops - I've put that right now. For some reason whenever I put 21st, I always then think of February. Wonder why....

  3. There is no such thing as 'free' TV. The BBC we pay for through the Licence, everything else we either pay indirectly for through advertising, advertising being paid for through an additional markup the advertisers put on the goods we buy or through subscription. The problem with most subscription tv is we pay twice over once through the subscription and a second time through the advertisers markups on the items we buy. At least with the license fee if you don't have a TV you don't pay for the BBC, with advertising funded TV you are paying for it whether you like it or not simply by buying goods sold by advertisers.

  4. You are quite right about beer in the evening. Its was a good site, but there are lots of smaller better ones that are actively being developed and maintained. The shame is that now that the beer in the evening site is so well known to the search engines the smaller sites might still not get the chance to shine through.
    Pubs Galore is a good site, and whilst less pretty theres PubUtopia - http://www.pubutopia.com