Tag Archives: britain

Stop Picking on the BBC

While the BBC may have it’s problems, it’s the envy of the world, or so says David Mitchell in this week’s Observer.

I agree, or I wouldn’t be posting this here.

These contradictions make it very easy to find fault with the BBC and let its critics evade the real question which is, simply: do we want it or not? It’s a binary choice, all or nothing. I once came across a very persuasive analysis of organisations (it’s from the book Intelligent Leadership by Alistair Mant) which divides them into two categories: bicycles and frogs.

A bicycle is put together from interchangeable parts. You can take a bicycle-like system apart, polish or improve elements and then reassemble it into something that works better. A frog, however, evolved as a whole. If you chop a little bit off, it’ll muddle along. And another little bit and another and it’ll still be a frog, albeit a less functional one. But finally, with one tiny further change, it will cease to be a frog and nothing you can do will ever put it back together. Well, the BBC is an organisation to melt Miss Piggy’s heart.

From: If you think Ashcroft is a scandal, what about the attacks on the BBC? | David Mitchell]

By the way, Auntie Beeb, my offer still stands: I’m ready to pay a full license fee for the privilege to see the (unadulterated) BBC here in the US. Even streaming over the Internet is good enough.

A light in the tunnel for Simon Singh?

I think I’ve been neglectful about reporting on Simon Singh’s case. I suppose it’s too late for me to go into a comprehensive summary of the case, but let me hit the high points as I recall them.

Simon Singh is a science writer in the UK, he wrote a critical article about chiropractors and their lack of reliable, objective evidence demonstrating efficacy of some of their claims, particularly with regards to certain childhood ailments and asthma. He used the word “bogus” and, having read the original piece myself, I think it was quite obvious the word “bogus” meant “ineffective” rather than “fraudulent”.

The British Chiropractic Association sued Singh under Britain’s laughingstock-of-the-free-world libel laws. The initial ruling was determined by a judge that Singh meant fraudulent and allowed the suit to proceed. In the face of enormous legal bills and with the support of skeptics, scientists and writers from around the world, Singh continues his fight in the hopes of causing much-needed reform of the English libel laws.

Meanwhile, the BCA has been unable to provide any real evidence that their claims are true, and have been caught instructing their members to remove such claims from their websites. (Nah, they don’t sound like they know their treatments don’t work, do they?)

Today, they were at a pre-trial hearing, and things are, for the first time, sounding good:

Presiding at the appeal court in London today in a pre-trial hearing on the meaning of words in a 2008 article by Singh criticising chiropractic treatments, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said he was “troubled” by the “artificiality” of the case.

“The opportunities to put this right have not been taken,” Lord Judge said.

He continued: “At the end of this someone will pay an enormous amount of money, whether it be from Dr Singh’s funds or the funds of BCA subscribers.”

He went on to criticise the BCA’s reluctance to publish evidence to back up claims that chiropractic treatments could treat childhood asthma and other ailments.

“I’m just baffled. If there is reliable evidence, why hasn’t someone published it?” [From Index on Censorship » Blog Archive » Judge ‘baffled’ by Simon Singh chiropractic case]

Update: You can learn more about the “problem” with English libel laws here: The Libel Reform Campaign

Doctor Who and the Archives of the BBC

The BBC has posted some fascinating – if a bit difficult to navigate – documents concerning the creation of Doctor Who.

BBC Archive – The Genesis of Doctor Who – The Creation of a Television Hero

Particularly fascinating are the two reports by the BBC on the feasibility of Science Fiction on the BBC, written a year or so before Doctor Who first aired.

Other BBC news: BBC One an BBC Two will be simulcast over the Internet starting November 27th.

Once again, BBC content will only be available to machines inside the UK.

Buy a clue people! There are many people, worldwide, like myself, who would gladly pay the license fee (and not even whinge about it) to get live BBC content. The system of international rights and royalties is obsolete in the 21st century. Someone’s got to be the pioneer and start to break down those walls.