Keep paying us loadsamoney, say wealthy BBC stars

Loadsamoney The political world was rocked over the weekend by an entirely predictable expression of self-interest from a group of wealthy people seeking to continue to receive large amounts of money.

Yes, the Observer played host to a letter signed by what it described as the "UK's leading actors", including Harry Enfield (pictured right with his latest pay packet).

Their key demand was that the BBC should be cryogenically preserved in its current form - a form which, conveniently, involves giving most of the letter's signatories fat pay cheques at the expense of licence fee payers.

While the Observer's headline suggests that the assembled stars are trying to defend Britain's national culture, the letter itself clearly focuses on maintaining the BBC's budget. In the view of the letter writers, it would be appalling to cut the licence fee.

Is this really news? It is hardly a surprise that people who have enjoyed the BBC's bounty want it to continue - indeed, it would be surprising if any of them were actually willing to say publicly what many involved with the Corporation do say in private, which is that there is often waste on a large scale that could easily be cut out without any harm to the cultural life of the nation.

On the rare occasions that anyone has actually asked the public - who provide the money and inhabit the culture that these well-to-do figures purport to defend - there has been a clear demand for the licence fee to be reduced. On the most recent occasion such polling has been done, Ofcom actually went out of their way to hide the results and lie about the public's support for licence fee cuts.

The signatories to the letter are apparently happy to continue with that kind of censorship. Generously, they acknowledge that "it is right that there is a national debate about the future of the BBC", but they then go on to say that criticising it "would be short-sighted and threatens to devalue not just the BBC itself, but our culture as a whole". So a debate is fine, just as long as only their side is heard.

Therein lies the real message of these glitterati - "Dear British Public, Shut up and keep paying."

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