With their characteristic selflessness and unflinching dedication to the public good, New Zealand’s legacy media have lately taken to agitating for a wholly government-funded media, akin to the BBC, or Australia’s ABC. After all, the public just don’t want to pay for their product voluntarily any more. What other option do the legacy media have, but to get the government to force Kiwis to pay them?

Trust me: don’t do this. The ABC is a gargantuan media behemoth that swallows more than a billion dollars every year and spits out wall-to-wall leftist garbage. It’s rather telling that the only program on ABC radio hosted by a supposed conservative is named Counterpoint. Counterpoint to what? The rest of the ABC?

Over in Britain, Douglas Murray isn’t much more enthusiastic about the Beeb.

The discovery that mattered most was the realisation that the less BBC I had in my life, the better. Starting with the discovery that no one seeking to begin the day happily should listen to Radio 4 before midday. Even Radio 3 should be approached with care. As the years went by I realised that I just needed Aunty less and less. Netflix makes better dramas and documentaries. Amazon Prime has a greater range of products. Neither charge me for an easy listening channel I’m uninterested in or a pop radio station that can damn well pay for itself. I get my news elsewhere. I’ve seen wars more amusing than BBC comedy. And now YouTube offers us a lifetime of free, serious, long-form political-cultural discussion while the BBC tries to palm us off with those three-minute, multi-guest ding-dongs.

Both Aunties, the ABC and the BBC, defend themselves on the self-serving claim that they are the sole bastions of “culture” in the media landscape. Given that recent highlights of ABC “comedy” included a photoshopped image of Australian journalist Chris Kenny having sex with a dog (blazoned with the caption “dog f**ker”, in case the joke was too subtle for ABC audiences), while its flagship current affairs program hosts panellists urging random executions of men, that claim seems specious, to say the least.

Four whole seasons of Married at First Sight could scarcely be more low-brow than the ABC’s “culture”.

Murray isn’t any more impressed by the BBC’s “cultural” offerings.

Survey what the BBC now presents as great British art and you are most likely to be presented with ‘grime’ music. This is a genre whose leading talent, Slowthai, was last week awarded ‘Hero of the year’ at the NME awards. Mr Slowthai celebrated his recognition by attempting to harass the female host before jumping into the pit to start a fight with some fans. The music is less lovely than its ambassadors.

So allow me to note what the BBC has been lacking for years. Not a single weekly programme on the main channels — not one — to show that the corporation takes high culture seriously.

The BBC also regularly lies to and belittles the very public who fund it. It has also been complicit in scandals like Jimmy Savile. Public trust in the BBC has plummeted. As long-term BBC journalist David Dimbleby admits, “I was filming during Brexit and I had people shouting ‘W*s! Bloody BBC!’ And I’d say to them, ‘What is it?’ and they had, genuinely, ferocious arguments about the way the BBC was handling Brexit”.

But, with characteristic government-funded legacy media chutzpah, Dimbleby refuses to admit that the problem might be them: “Something isn’t right and I think part of it is because of the massive expansion of social media”.

So, lies, scandal, bias, and not even the threadbare plumage of “culture” to justify their existence. In the marketplace, such a shoddy product would go broke in seconds flat. But not when you have the force of the state strong-arming people into buying your product perforce.

There is no law that demands that the BBC survives. It is an unnatural beast to begin with. If it lives, then it should be — among much else — an unashamed advocate of high culture. If not, then it should not just be pruned but cut loose — allowed to live or die — like anything else in nature.


This is the single biggest reason Kiwis should fight like hell against a state-funded media. Once you get this government-funded monkey on your back, you’ll never be able to go cold turkey. Even the mildest funding cuts are met with howls of outrage. The legacy media know how to protect themselves. Manufacturing news is their business – and woe betide any government who tries to take even an inch of the miles of taxpayer money the legacy media will trouser, given half the chance.

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