Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
If you’re in radio, be afraid.
I wonder what royalties iTunes radio is paying? Pandora, mentioned in the article as the ones to be afraid, recently (a few days ago) won a long-running court battle with ASCAP to pay less.
The BBC should be even more careful. Every day more people move away from the old 1960′s and 1970′s model of people sitting at home getting their music, entertainment, news and weather via a BBC radio station and watching BBC1 and BBC2. iRadio is just another way to have your own personal ‘designer’ equivalent of a radio station, and another justification to resent paying for a compulsory tv licence.
£144.50 is a lot of money and TV licence criminal legal actions are now one in ten in British courts. 3500 actions each week – 155000 convicted last year. The backlash against paying out £145.50 for the BBC was already growing before iRadio became such a big player (sic). In 2012–13 the BBC received about £3.6562 billion from licence fee revenue, and there is still the ongoing fuss about very large executive payoffs and payments accounting for a chunk of the billions.
Sooner or later there will be a big action against the principle of compulsory payment when ever fewer people consider they are getting a fair deal. Many now have next to no interest in what the BBC puts out and there are so many other ways to be entertained and informed without using BBC channels.
£145 is a fair sum of money but then what you get for it is outstanding value. Personally I think they could chase ratings in things like sport and light entertainment a little less, as we are well served on those fronts elsewhere, but the rest is terrific. Radio 3 especially when coupled with iPlayer is infinitely superior to Apple’s offering. Have you tried classical music on iRadio yet?
Personally I’m very tired of “you listened to Karajan, we think you’d like to listen to Debussy” spurious recommendations on the likes of Amazon and Spotify and iTunes. I’d even take Rob Cowan’s “bloody rucksack” over that!
And the day when Apple organises anything like the Proms will be a rare day indeed.
I agree that £145 is a fair sum of money for people who enjoy watching BBC tv and listen to BBC Radio. Would you think £500 a fair sum of money if those who do not enjoy BBC were freed from having to pay for services they do not use?
Many people do not watch and listen to BBC a lot. So I think it is fair to accept that they will not think £145 is a fair amount of money. They will resent being forced to subsidise your viewing and listening through their involuntary sponsorship on pain of ending up in court convicted of a criminal offence.
I watch typically about an hour and a half or two hours of BBC tv each week. I watched part of a couple of the BBC Proms but the sound and picture quality were poor – something which becomes obvious when you see content from NHK in Japan, Berlin, San Francisco, The Met., etc. What I heard of the BBC Proms sound was thin and unnatural. For me the BBC output of interest to me is worth significantly less than £145 but I do not fancy being taken to court so I cough up.
I can choose whether to subscribe to iRadio, Spotify or other services such as Sky. If I decide not to subscribe because I do not want to listen or to watch these channels I do not end up in prison.
Well Tony, many people do not use the NHS a lot, for they are young and healthy; many people do not use the schools very much, for they have no kids; many people do not visit the countryside a lot, for they care not for it – yet in all these cases, they pay their fare share on the basis that 1) the majority benefit and 2) they might one day want to benefit from these things. And I grant 3) that they will go to prison if they don’t.
Good luck seeing how far your £145 gets you with Sky! Even my premium (for the 320kbps audio) Spotify comes in at £119.88 per year and doesn’t come with a Today programme or Just A Minute or even the weather forecast. AND they pay their artists peanuts unlike the BBC.
The BBC is what I guess some Americans might call “socialised” and long may it be! It’s much better, consistently so, public sector (or indeed private sector for the most part) broadcasting than anywhere else in the world.
(Not sure which Proms you were listening to but on the high quality iPlayer and DTV streams I listened to, the quality was very good, especially considering it’s the Albert and not Wigmore Hall – good hifi makes a difference of course…)
Thanks Tony, it’s so good to hear the unreconstructed voice of Thatcherism again! Public bad, private good. Competition always good. You seem to know the price of everything, the value of nothing. The £145 is your annual subscription to the upkeep of a very civilised club, and you should be pleased to pay it, unless you really enjoy being in a situation where you have no access to culture without strings attached, without knowing that some creep is trying to sell you something, or has already done so. I have plenty of moans about the BBC, but I dread to think what the place would be like without it.
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
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