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The Sunday Telegraph, an Australian newspaper owned by Murdoch, publishes a "word search" type puzzle for its younger readers. Last weekend the topic was "animals of Indonesia" and contained one line starting.

It took two days for people to read that backwards to get the message. Apparently Murdoch is a bit tardy in signing their pay checks. Not that he has a lack of money. Last year his BSkyB operation declared profits which meant News Corp got over $873 million for their 39% shareholding (39% of £1,330 profit on turnover of £7,255 million- profits 18.3%) That discounts payments to other News Corp companies like Fox Television and 20th Century Fox for the shows and movies they bid high for first run showings rights on their own brand encrypted satellite channels.

Despite that disparity in income, the BBC actually spends more on programming than BSkyB. The BBC spends £2,530 million whereas BSkyB spends £2,486 million of which £767million is for the rights to 116 English Premier League soccer matches.

Brian Butterworth at the site has done an interesting comparison between the accounts of B$kyB and the BBC.  You may recall that the Murdochs, pere et fils, have used the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV festival to attack the BBC and call for the licence fee to be reduced. The BBC's income also includes income as profits from commercial operations mainly run through BBC Worldwide. Among other enterprizes this forms joint ventures like BBC Alba (funded in part by the Scottish government) and BBCAmerica which depends on advertising income. In total the income amounts to about half that of BSkyB.

Big spend for BSkyB is advertising for which it pays £1.1 billion. The other massive disparity is in how much the two organizations pay to collect their "subscriptions" - the BBC Licence fee for each household and BSkyB's subscription charges for their different channel packages (note they "give" a free satellite box designed to take their encryption card and recover this through the subscription however the "subscriber" has to pay for repairs or replacement after the first year). BSkyB has roughly 10.1 million subscribers in the UK and Ireland. In comparison, the BBC collects licence fees from 25.6 million households in the UK - there are reciprocal arrangements to allow Irish viewers to watch BBC television and those in Northern Ireland to watch RTE.  Administration in this collection costs the BBC £111 million or roughly £4 each. Subscription administration costs Sky £647 million or £62 each.

Brian has also done a comparison of the "value for money" the BBC presents today compared to 20 years ago. In 1993 the BBC had:

Television: two analog channels
Radio: five analogue stations nationally (plus 'national' and local stations)
Licence fee (at 2013 prices) £147.44 - 0.25% of GDP and about 40% of broadcast revenue*
These TV and radio stations, with limited competition, had a 46% audience share and each 19.8 hours per week

Today, with the launch of five new HD channels from this morning they have:

Television: 9 UK wide TV channels, (BBC Parliament not in HD) plus BBC Alba in Scotland (see above)
Radio: Five analogue stations on analog plus 5 "digital", all on every platform including satellite and cable (plus national and local stations)
BBC online (web site)
BBC iPlayer (online catchup)
BBC Red button - additional content on digital TV (recently used for Dr Who mini episodes for example)
Current licence fee is £145.50 - 0.23% of GDP and about 25% of broadcast revenue.
These TV and radio stations, with very significant competition, had a 42% audience share with each 21.3 hours per week

* Broadcast revenue includes BBC licence fees plus subscriptions to paid platforms; advertising and sponsorship (these are limited to pre and post advertisement break announcements)

Ironically Sky needs the BBC in the same way a flea needs a dog. The BBC lineup of general entertainment channels includes BBC Three and BBC Four. Three is "youth" orientated with a target audience in their 20s and 30s. BBC Four is a "deeper thinking" channel. Both these can act as test beds for new shows or imports. "Mad Men" for example got high ratings on BBC Four and looked to move to the main BBC One or Two. That was until Sky moved in and outbid them for the later series and moved them behind its paywall. The BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing" is a blockbuster for early Saturday evenings, a peak time target for all broadcasters with an audience share of 43%. The format has been sold widely - including to the USA where it was remade as "Dancing with the Stars". Dutifully Sky tried to copycat it with its own "Got to Dance". Even for the rare drama shows it makes in the UK there is some input - one was a copycat of a Scandinavian show first broadcast on BBC Four.

Sky could not even broadcast without the BBC's input: the very TV standard used by their satellites (DVB-S and DVB-S2 - the same as used by some US satellite companies) was developed by the BBC in partnership with other national broadcasters in the European Broadcasting Union and the DVB Partnership. (Incidentally, most of the outline proposals for the USA's ATSC 3.0 - which will allow Ultra High Definition terrestrial broadcasts - are based on the DVB-T2 standard first broadcast in the UK where it is used to carry five HD channels per frequency.) Electronic music is heavily influenced by the seminal BBC Radiophonic Workshop - remember the Dr Who theme. TV weather forecasts often rely on technology pioneered if not actually licensed for sale by the BBC - they developed "Colour separation overlay"  or "greenscreen" backgrounds for TV and its later refinement of a back projection onto a CSO screen so the presenter can see it in "real space" rather than having to look at a monitor while gesturing in front of a blank green or blue sheet. The BBC is mandated by its Royal Charter to innovate in this way - Sky is only responsible to Murdoch via the direct News Corp shareholding and those of his mega rich cronies who have lower overall shareholdings but mostly defer to him or his son for the running of the companies.  

The BBC licence fee costs a household about 40p per day - roughly 75 cents. The absolute minimum Sky subscription is about £20 per month and with the average subscription in the £50 range, that's four times the cost of a licence - not to mention the extra everybody has to pay for goods in the shops because the manufacturer or retailer advertises on Sky.

If you look at Sky's viewing figures you can see why Murdoch wants to decimate the BBC. Sky's 11 movies channels, all in HD, put together have a lower viewing figure than BBC Four which only broadcasts from 7pm to around 2.30 am (it time shares the bandwidth with their younger children's channel, CBeebies) and was only available in SD until today. So you know why "Murdoch is evil".

Originally posted to Lib Dem FoP on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 03:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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