Following the now infamous prank telephone call by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to the actor Andrew Sachs of Faulty Towers fame, it is worth considering the future of the BBC. The public is rightly outraged and as such it is the perfect time to consider reform.
Firstly, the incident itself was utterly perverse. Such harassment is possibly a matter for the police to investigate. If the police are unconcerned, under normal circumstances I would suggest that it is up to the company to decide whether or not to discipline their employees. However, given the fact that we are forced to pay for BBC broadcasts, on this occasion the shareholders - that's you and me if you have a licence - should decide the fate of Ross (Brand has now stepped down). A simple poll on their bloated website would suffice.
Those that defend the BBC as an institution that does things others won’t or can’t are wrong. A visit to the website of the subscription run HBO will suffice to dispell this illusion. Such innovative programming could be possible in this country, if only the BBC and regulations were not holding back competition.
So how should we proceed? In fact the solution is very simple and it goes by the name BBC Worldwide. BBC Worldwide is a subsidiary of the BBC whose profits are delivered back to the BBC, supplementing the Corporation's licence fee funding. During 2007/08 BBC Worldwide achieved sales of £916 million.
The current licence fee of £139.50 needs to be phased out. BBC Worldwide should be given more control over the BBC’s assets, competing on equal terms with its competitors. Within ten years the licence fee should be scrapped completely, with BBC Worldwide managing all of the BBC’s interests and the public liberated from paying for the abuses of oddities such as Brand and Ross.