THE annual Edinburgh Film Festival would be no fun if one or another TV executive did not take the opportunity to shoot off his mouth about the failings of his competitors. This year it is the turn of Mr Tony Ball, one of Rupert Murdoch's key executives, who has used his Festival platform to reveal the results of an NOP opinion poll on the BBC's licence fee held in June. According to this, 51 per cent of viewers disagreed with the statement that “the BBC licence fee provides good value for money”. In 1999, a similar poll found that 42 per cent were dissatisfied with what they got from the BBC for their money. One would need to know a lot more about the range of questions asked in the NOP poll and which socio–economic groups were dissatisfied with the fare offered and, for instance, how many of them were long–standing and dedicated Sky TV viewers. But when one considers that for just over £2 a week – which buys nothing in Britain now – viewers get two main BBC channels, masses of sport, not to mention at least five radio stations, it is difficult to think of how the respondents to this poll made up their minds. The BBC should take note, however. A big campaign to rubbish its reputation as its Charter comes up for renewal in three years time is already underway with BSkyB in the lead and the Conservative Party not far behind. Britain is almost the only country in the world where radio and TV are not run for the benefit of advertisers and it is important to keep it that way.


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