Monday, 23 November 2009

TaxPayers' Alliance and Mail team up to attack BBC

The Mail's latest pathetic assault on the BBC comes in a story about trees. BBC under fire for Autumnwatch tree giveaway costing licence fee payers £150,000 reveals:

The Beeb is handing out 300,000 free trees at a thousand different garden centres, nurseries and DIY stores nationwide.

Each sapling has cost the corporation 32 pence - £96,000 in total

Yes, that's £96,000 on trees, not the £150,000 claimed in the headline. But the story adds:

This summer, it spent £57,500 on giving away 250,000 packets of vegetable seeds at 23 pence per pack as part of its 'Dig In' campaign.

So in tree-planting and 'grow your own veg' campaigns linked to the nature series Autumnwatch, the BBC has spent £153,500 on seeds and saplings.

This is an excellent idea and - refreshingly - several of the comments on the Mail story think so too. (Just to annoy the TPA and Mail: If you want to join the campaign and plant a tree on 5 December, the Autumnwatch website has all the details)

Of course, when you see the words 'under fire' you know this is the work of some publicity-hungry, rent-a-quote group who want to see their name in the paper:

The Taxpayers' Alliance has accused [the BBC] of misusing licence fees as if it were a 'charity with a bottomless pit of cash'.

Yes, predictably, it's them. Susie Squire from the TPA adds:

'It is totally misguided for the BBC to blow huge amounts of licence-payers' cash on trees and vegetable seeds when there are numerous worthy bodies working on these causes'.

'Huge amounts of licence-payers' cash'? Really?

If you take the overall BBC income for 2009 as a starting point - which is £4.6billion - then £153,000 amounts to 0.0033%.

Even if you are feeling generous and work out the percentage from the licence fee and government grants (so excluding sales) then £153,000 equals 0.004%.

It's 0.0034% of the BBC's £4,491.7 billion 2009 expenditure.

It's 1,073 licence fees.

It's a non-story.

But we now know this: the TPA thinks 0.003% is 'huge'.


  1. I have often wondered, if The Daily Mail is so against The BBC, why is it, whenever they give away free DVDs they are more often then not, titles from the BBC cannon?

  2. If they wanted to attack the BBC, they shouldn't have mentioned the scheme and waited to see if it failed. 300,000 rotting saplings is a waste of money not 300,000 growing trees. As it is, they've highlighted the scheme and will probably boost uptake!

    Right, where's the nearest Homebase...

  3. the depressing thing is that you know all the Mail readers will believe it...

  4. The so-called Taxpayers' Alliance thinks that 0.064% is huge: this is the percentage of taxpayers that are members of their group (assuming of course that all TPA members pay tax in the UK).

    This huge percentage takeup means that the TPA can call itself a grassroots "campaign", rather than an astroturf lobby group. Which wants transparency in everyone else, while still not publishing its accounts.

  5. Looking at the comments this seems to have backfired. Most of the green arrows are for comments that reckon it's actually a good idea, and the reds for the usual anti-BBC stuff.

    I think people have cottoned on to the Mail always having an anti-BBC story nearly every day and are commenting likewise.

  6. You mean they were talking shit? In the Daily Mail?

    I find that hard to believe.

  7. That sound like an excellent idea, I'm gonna get me a tree :) Oh and if the Tories were doing this it would have some 'dig for victory protecting British woodland title.' The mail really are a bunch of fatuous fuck-nuggets.

  8. Just a thought. This fuss really puts the Mail and the Taxpayers Alliance into a completely inane context as all the recipients of the 'free' trees and seeds likely to be licence payers (or family members) anyway. Mind I suppose they could all be immigrants.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.