Month: February 2020

BBC to move to a subscription model?

It seems there is a push to scrap the mandatory BBC license and replace it with a subscription model like many in the private sector.

We last wrote about the BBC back in March 2018 when comparing it to our own ABC. We said,

On a global basis, the BBC generates GBP 4.954bn and employs 21,431 staff. 22.7% of those revenues are spent on salaries. Average salaries have grown 17% since 2007/8. The average income per employee at the BBC is now GBP236,852 (A$428,000) thanks to the generous mandatory licensing fees. Average salaries at the Beeb are now GBP 55,651 ($A100,728).

Since then the BBC notes the following in its annual report for 2018/19.

Revenue has tailed off to £4.89bn with staff numbers swelling to 22,401.

21.4 m pay the full license fee of £150.50, down 203,000 on the previous year.

Vy way of comparison, Netflix in the UK charges £8.99/mth (£107.88) for the standard package to £11.99/mth (£143.88) for the full Ultra HD experience. There are a whole host of other services from Sky, Virgin, Vodafone etc who are bundling mobile phone and home internet with TV.

An interesting tidbit reveals that one can sign up to a ‘monochrome’ BBC service for 1/3rd the current £150.50 subscription fee. 5,000 currently do. 4.6m over 75s pay nothing.

As ever, the BBC pushes supreme confidence in its delivery of media content. 91% of adult Brits consume it in TV, radio or written form according to Ipsos polling.

Sadly, 52% of UK adults think the BBC is effective at providing news and current affairs that is impartial. Half. 10 years ago, it was 57%.

Only 61% of parents think the Beeb is good for assisting children and teenagers with learning. It scored 65% for adults in this category. Both down on the year.

In terms of platform, BBC TV scored more or less flat on the previous year in terms of quality (72% -> 72%) and distinctiveness (68% -> 69%) but fell sharply for BBC Radio (81% -> 75%) & (77% -> 73%) and BBC Online (74% -> 69%) & (70% -> 64%) respectively.

The length of time Brits spend watching BBC TV fell from 8hrs and 16secs to 7:36 per week. People listening to BBC Radio fell from 10:03 to 9:33 per week. Usage of BBC Online by adults increased from 75% to 77% per week.

In a nutshell, people are watching and listening less to the BBC, view it increasingly as biased, question its offering and seemingly don’t want to pay for it.

Living off a never-ending taxpayer teat breeds complacency. A move to a subscription model would soon reveal how ‘in demand’ the ‘high-quality’ content services actually are. If the BBC truly possesses such a huge belief in its abilities to deliver, it should have absolutely no concerns to let the private market pay for its services.

Just like the ABC in Australia, BBC ratings keep falling and audience trust continues to wane. Ita Buttrose must be watching developments in the UK with a keen eye. Time for the ABC to be forced down a similar road of self-funding, driven by “true” market demand for services instead of junk like Q+A, ABC Kids programmes preaching white privilege or indigenous programs that play-act defecating on white people.

Put simply, the world has changed. There is no need to pay $1bn to the ABC and $400m to the SBS for services that almost anyone with a phone and an internet connection can consume from the source. That is right. We can stream German radio to our hotel room on our American business trip should we wish. We don’t need the government to divert tax dollars to provide services that exist at source in abundance. There is almost nothing at the ABC that can’t be consumed at The Guardian or Channel 10.

A message from Bernie Sanders’ field officer

We very much doubt Bernie Sanders would endorse what his field officer said. Perhaps his staffer is just disgruntled that Bernie cut his hours

Seattle City Council strikes again

We want proper evidence to convince us that the state of climate change is anywhere near as big or as dangerous as alarmists claim it to be. This video doesn’t help convince those who want more proof.

Seattle City Council is a gift that keeps giving. Not just the tree activists singing but the complete “don’t give a damn” attitude of the councilors.

Bloomberg-Clinton ticket?

The Drudge Report is suggesting Mike Bloomberg wants Hillary Clinton as a running mate as polling suggests the duo would be a “formidable force.”

We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Don’t forget that Michael Bloomberg endorsed Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election. Recall he was intending to run as a Republican back then. When his bid failed he threw his support behind Trump’s opponent.

Perhaps a formidable force in rallying Trump deplorables to the ballot box to rub her nose in it?

Clinton continues to show herself to be bitter since losing the election in 2016. Of course absolutely none of it was her fault. How nice it was of her to throw Bernie under the bus late last year when she said that he destroyed her campaign by not endorsing her after the rigged nomination.

Still, thankfully friends like Michelle Obama justified Hillary’s loss when she said, “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice!” Who knew?

Would such a combo be a plan to have the DNC unseat Bernie Sanders from the front of the queue? Does the DNC think Bernie voters hate Trump more than them post 2016? It sort of has that stench about it.

What a gift for Trump. At the very least HRC could get one step closer to being the first female head of state, especially if she adopted Nancy Pelosi’s prayer guide for the president.

Bernie Sanders should be a Republican if he studied the facts

Bernie Sanders posted the following to his social media platform today:

Today, the 3 wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of our people, and income and wealth inequality is worse now than at any time since the 1920s. This is a moral outrage and bad economics. Unacceptable.

Despite Bernie Sanders’ net worth of $2.5mn, there is an irony for him to act like hr speaks for the poor and oppressed.

The funny thing is that many Americans aspire to be as successful as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Undoubtedly the Bottom 50% use/have used Windows, have ordered something on Amazon or used products that sit in the portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway. Bezos, Gates and Buffett all came from relatively humble beginnings. So it isn’t a system that has gifted their success.

What Sanders is forgetting is that the net worth of the Bottom 50% has improved substantially since Trump took office. What is often overlooked by politicians is the simple fact of “lived experience.” Sanders can cry about the”gap” all he wants but if a growing number of people feel less under a rock, they’ll gladly overlook the bluster of Trump and his loose Twitter fingers if he keeps delivering for them. It works the other way too. Telling voters how great they have it when they don’t has the opposite effect.

Since the series began, the St Louis Fed shows the Bottom 50%’s aggregate wealth peaked in 2Q 1991 at $4.3 trillion. In Q1 2009, that net wealth plummetted 61% to $1.7 trillion. It sunk to a rock bottom of $300 billion in 2Q 2011, 93% down.

Under Obama, net worth for the Bottom 50% declined from $1.7 trillion in 1Q 2009 to $1.1 trillion, down 35% over his two terms. This might do some explaining as to why the “forgotten” wanted large scale change.

Under Trump, the latest net worth is back to $1.6 trillion. Still well off the highs of 3-decades ago, but one imagines if things keep improving out to November, then these people won’t want to risk their fortunes reversing again.

Of course, many will ponder the unfair wealth gap of the Top 1% at $34.5 trillion in the latest figures.

Sanders should be outraged that the ultra-wealthy have done much better under Obama with a 100% gain in net worth under his term vs the paltry 15.3% so far under Trump.

Best he become a Republican instead!

Coronaveristy Cash Crunch will lead to cost-cutting

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Almost 1 million foreign students attend Australian educational institutions.  Of that 28% are from China according to the Dept of Education.

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New commencements are at half a million. These are not small numbers. We are already seeing universities start to fret over the economic impacts.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that in 2017–18, international education was worth $32.4 billion to the Australian economy, up from $18.9 billion in 2008–09.

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In fees alone, foreign students have forked over $7.4bn in the 2017/18 year from $2.9bn in 2008/09.

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As a % of total university fees, foreign students now represent over 23% from  15.5% in 2008/09.

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By university, we can see where foreign students are most concentrated. Victoria holds 5 of the top 10 destinations for foreign students.

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By number, Victorian universities hold the top 3 places for absolute foreign student numbers, and 31% of the national total. NSW has 25% of all foreign students inside Australia.

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Things will undoubtedly settle down. It is unlikely all of these students will pull the plug and not turn up at Australian universities when Coronavirus issues eventually come under control. As far as attrition rates go in Australia, local kids are far more likely to drop out than overseas students.

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We are already seeing some universities announce they are tightening the purse strings until the situation normalises.

An interesting side topic is a fall-off in permanent residency visas offered by the Dept of Home Affairs to foreign students that graduate in Australian universities. The decadal low numbers don’t seem to have affected foreign student interest.

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Graduate visas have picked up sharply. It will be fascinating to see the post-Coronavirus trends of visas from the DHA.

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Ultimately, Australian schools have been living high off the hog. While the trend of international students has been robust, have any of these schools conducted proper contingency planning if a global recession, pandemic or shock was to ensue?

After 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth, something suggests that most universities have not seriously considered what might happen if the well dried up. Sadly, when such an action plan should have been in place, we will probably see knee jerk cost-cutting in all the wrong places. So much for the educators preparing their customers for the future…

Not a Paris Accord signatory but the US is the best performer

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that the United States achieved the largest absolute decline in GHG emissions in 2019. Once again proving that one doesn’t need to sign up to the Paris Accord to achieve reductions and pay for other nations who can’t get their own house in order. Isn’t it funny how the free market is more efficient than feel good regulation where tokenism is enough?

The IEA wrote,

“…a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period. A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%. Overall electricity demand declined because demand for air-conditioning and heating was lower as a result of milder summer and winter weather.a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period. A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%. Overall electricity demand declined because demand for air-conditioning and heating was lower as a result of milder summer and winter weather.”

Now if only people would pick on China to get it to reduce its emissions which are, by its own admission, not stopping until 2030 at the earliest.

Perhaps Australia should ponder the fact that although we have all of the raw inputs on our door step to lower emissions and cut electricity prices, we think tokenism via renewables is the way forward.

Yes, we’re often thrown stats that renewables could have powered ‘x’ number of homes for ‘y’ number of days but the reality is taking a snapshot at the rare attainment of “peak” output and celebrating it as though it is the average is misleading. That is why so many countries, including Japan, are building more coal-fired power stations.

FNF Media thinks that renewables should be true to the zero emissions cause and be built under guidelines that they mustn’t use any materials from the fossil fuel world nor use coal or gas fired electricity in their production. On top of that recycling of wind and solar must be included in the price.