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A BBC for the 21st-Century!

by John Brian Shannon

The UK government needs to drop the present funding model for the BBC by 2021 and help the corporation get ready to serve Britons even better than in the 20th-century. Which it did quite remarkably, considering the times and the level of technology available back in the day.

However, it’s a new century now, and even the hallowed institution of the BBC must gear-up for the new media environment that’s only begun to impact the world, and the first thing that needs to change is that the BBC license fee must end by 2021. That’s it. Gone! Just like that.

Of course the BBC will need to fund its programmes and it should sell advertising on all of its websites, TV programmes, radio broadcasts, and on all other media, in the same manner as other media outlets.

There won’t be any problem getting companies to advertise with the BBC as it remains one of the premiere media providers in the world. And, the day the BBC license fee model ends, the BBC should begin funding its programming via advertising.

The UK government should consider taking a page out of the Canadian government’s book when it moved the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC is Canada’s national broadcaster) from 100% government control to a more arm’s length relationship with the Canadian government. Until the 1990’s, the CBC didn’t run ads unless the adverts were government advertising of some sort (during elections, or to provide public information, etc.) thereby making the CBC 100% dependent upon the government for their funding. Not the best way to build a free-from-government-control media empire…

The really smart thing the Canadian government did was insist that the CBC provide 50% Canadian content (CANCON) in its programming. That is, half of the programmes that aired on CBC TV or CBC Radio were required to have significant numbers of Canadian actors, hosts, Canadian news, or even if an American host was conducting the interview the interviewee had to be a Canadian in order to qualify for supplementary funding from the government.

This so-called CANCON requirement allowed Canadian programming to flourish — even though the gigantic American media machine lived right next door to Canada which could’ve easily subsumed Canada’s entire media establishment had they wanted to.

In exchange for providing CANadian CONtent, the CBC received supplementary CANCON funding from the government for Canadian programming on a per show or (sometimes) on a per series basis.

In some cases, the Canadian government paid up to half the cost of Canadian programmes, depending upon how many Canadian actors appeared on a show or series, and depending upon where the story took place. More CANCON funding was paid when the shoot was in Toronto than if shot in New York city, for example. A little complicated, but apparently not that onerous.

The Canadian film industry loved the new arrangement — and it saved the Canadian government millions of dollars per year — as the cost of running the entire CBC was no longer borne by the government, rather, they paid only for the portion of the programming that was considered Canadian content.

It was a win for the Canadian government which saved millions per year and got the taxpayers off their backs, it was a win for Canadian actors, directors, producers and theatre houses because they got rapid access to the massive (massive for Canada, that is) CBC which was suddenly hungry for Canadian content, and it was a win for Canadian viewers who got to see more programmes that interested them and fewer American shows that were less relevant to the Canadian experience.

Yes, the one downside was that Canadians had to suffer through commercials. (Oh, the agony!)

But there likely isn’t one Canadian who’d willingly go back to the old days of wall-to-wall American TV shows (mostly about crime) and American news (also, mostly about crime) and American soap operas (also, mostly about crime) with only bits of Canadian content scattered here and there.

CBC News, CBC Sports, and CBC Documentaries are of exceptional quality nowadays, and are broadcast and rebroadcast on many channels around the world. And even with that said, all of it seems to have improved every year since the Canadian government gave the CBC an independent mandate.

Yet, at the time the model was unilaterally changed by the Canadian government, some old-school CBC hosts tut-tutted the change, complaining that ‘Canadian television would never be the same’. And in a way, they were right, it’s even better now!

Today, as a result of the Canadian government’s foresightedness, the Canadian movie industry is booming and Hollywood movies are often shot in Canadian cities because the economics work so well. Even Hollywood film makers can qualify for CANCON funding when they shoot in Canada, and that’s in addition to the savings due to the Canadian dollar presently pegged at 75 cents to the American dollar.

Based on the successful CBC example, the BBC could break free from government funding and control, from the bad press surrounding the BBC license-fee, add more revenue to their operations via typical advertising, and gain additional funding from the government whenever it creates a made-in-the-UK film, series, documentary, news programme, or other UK-based programming.

To be fair to smaller centres, the BBC should receive slightly more funding per capita from the government for creating programming set in or geared towards Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, or in any economically depressed town or region of the country. For one example: What could a television series that is shot in the Orkney Islands do for the economy there? And for another example, what could a new BBC production centre mean for Blackburn?

There are plenty of spectacular landscapes in the UK and millions of fascinating stories to tell — one only needs to watch Escape to the Country to get a sense of the history of the UK and of the interesting people hiding in plain sight all over the country.

In short, the UK government needs to simplify the BBC’s funding model, it needs to lower its total spend on the BBC while rewarding it for producing UK-created content, it needs to drop the abhorrent BBC license fee, it needs to allow the BBC to advertise, and it needs to provide supplementary funding to the BBC and film makers hailing from Hollywood, Bollywood, or from anywhere in the world that film movies, documentaries, or series anywhere in the UK, especially in economically depressed regions.

That’s a BBC model that will allow the corporation and its great people to succeed even better in the 21st-century than it did when it was founded in 1922 and every year since.

Any UK Citizen Trying to Break-up the UK Must be Tried for Treason

by John Brian Shannon

Here in the post-truth era it’s sometimes difficult to see things clearly.

Carefully crafted scripts (lies) delivered to the media are spoken over and over by their proponents until they become part of the accepted narrative — like a scene right out of George Orwell’s book 1984 — where lies are “truth” and truths are “lies” making it difficult for the average person to decide who’s ‘right’ and who’s ‘lying’.

It was an astonishing lack of competent and brave UK politicians in the late 20th-century that allowed, (nay, facilitated!) The Troubles in Northern Ireland to occur, and indeed, terrorists from Ireland perpetrated acts of terror in England and in other places, sometimes working with their terrorist brothers in arms around the world. Some trained with Islamist terror groups in Libya and other MENA nations to learn how to kill more efficiently large numbers of innocent civilians to thereby further their dystopian dreams of (illegitimate) statehood.

And each time they got away with it, they did so because the UK government was too moribund to deal with it, too cowed by what might happen next, too afraid to confront the terrorist element directly — and the terrorists won inch by inch, little by little, week by week — as a small band of evil people sought to overturn the successes of WWI and WWII, namely, peace and prosperity for all Europeans.

The Irish Troubles arose because of the need of some to feed their own egos by attempting to steal Northern Ireland from the British crown — a piece of land that was generously purchased by the British crown from the then-starving Irish in a supreme and almost godly act of kindness — a fact that’s been vastly underplayed by UK politicians because they didn’t accomplish it… the British crown accomplished it, and so the British politicians didn’t want to give the credit to the monarchy as a powerful subgroup in the UK Parliament (if you didn’t already know) has been attempting to ‘steal the crown jewels’ and ‘get rid of the monarchy’ on the sly since 1215, or thereabouts.

For now, such UK politicians are happy to just play along with Elizabeth II until the day she dies and then, in an unprecedented and mad rush, suddenly publish all sorts of negative things about the UK monarchy in order to sway the public mood and abolish the House of Lords at the same time — thereby allowing the UK Parliament to seize all crown assets in the country for the government and in almost every way, assume the power of the monarchy and the House of Lords while still keeping the power of the House of Commons for themselves. Thereby making the UK just like an American-style republic, but with no senate body to keep an eye on them. There go all the ‘checks and balances’ on government, forever.

Yes folks, right under your noses this has been happening in slow motion since 1215 and it continues to this very day.


Back to the Irish

Due to the numerous potato blights, the horrible weather, an extremely tough life in an era bereft of technology, where most people lived their entire lives in houses of stone with dirt floors and electricity hadn’t yet been invented, the Irish who sold their land and buildings to the British crown couldn’t wait to get off the island they hated to move to America with their newfound loot.

And it was their choice to make! Some became wealthy, some, factory workers, while others drank their newfound wealth away while pining for the Olde Country.

Whatever their choices, they were theirs to make. Some even returned to Ireland to rent the land they once farmed and hated.

And if you can’t see where this is going… here it is; For if you once lived in a tough environment as a subsistence farmer or rancher and you sold out and moved to America (which then didn’t turn out the way you imagined it would turn out) and you subsequently returned penniless, imagine how much you would’ve hated paying rent to live on your former land to earn a living as a subsistence farmer or rancher!

It didn’t help that most people couldn’t read nor write in those days, often paying someone to read their legal documents for them, in an era where only ranking members of the Church were allowed to read The Bible and explain it to the near-starving and mostly illiterate people of the time.

I think it’s safe to assume that some Irish were taken advantage-of by educated people from Ireland, Britain, and the continent.

Over many decades, this angst built-up and was cultivated by those who wanted to steal Northern Ireland from the British crown and subjugate Northern Irelanders to their will.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see a thread of collusion between a microcosm of UK parliamentarians who always wanted rid of the crown with those who wanted to subjugate Northern Irelanders, to the detriment of the unhappy people stuck in a dreary existence in Northern Ireland.

It’s said that, ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ and the kind and generous acts of successive UK monarchs towards the Irish (and Scottish) people eventually resulted in The Troubles in Northern Ireland and will result in even worse Troubles should Scotland’s people be deceived by those wishing to break-up the United Kingdom.


There’s No Guaranteed Future in Independence

Those who wish for such a thing will be directly responsible for as many deaths occur, and foreign agents will no doubt make the best of such trouble for their own purposes. When a country turns against itself everyone loses. The United Kingdom will lose its place as the 5th-largest economy in the world and once again become a land full of fearful children waiting for their school bus to be firebombed. And the technological tools available to terrorists are much more sophisticated these days, unlike back in the day when the Pan Am terror incident occurred in Lockerbie, Scotland.

Only sheer idiocy would want to tear apart the United Kingdom just at the moment it has finally gotten out of the European Union and its entire future lays ahead!

Just as modern-day architects who build bridges or buildings that collapse and kill hundreds of people are charged with manslaughter for their poor engineering work, so should the framers of ‘The Troubles’ past (in Northern Ireland) and ‘The Troubles’ to come (in Scotland) be charged with High Treason as a result of their reckless plans to break-up one of the best countries in the world.

I wouldn’t be surprised if another world war came out of it.

Yes, you laugh, but did anyone see WWI coming? Not one person. Did anyone see the rise of Hitler and WWII? Did anyone foresee the invasion of South Korea by the North in 1950? Did anyone see the need for a Berlin Airlift prior to the Soviets blocking the West from road access to that zone? No. Did anyone foresee the Vietnam War? Again, no. Did even one person think that Saddam Hussein would invade Kuwait and loot the place? No, not one person saw any of this in advance. Saddam himself remarked he couldn’t believe the then-world leaders didn’t see his all too obvious plan far in advance of it occurring. He actually thought they were diligently looking in the other direction to allow him to get away with it!

It’s almost like the world leaders of previous eras wanted these things to occur ‘by leaving the doors wide open for the thief of Baghdad’ or in other ways to, ‘invite murdering thugs into their bedchambers’ while they slept. Meanwhile, the Saddam Husseins’ of this world are shocked that the politicians of the day didn’t see their plans coming a million miles away.

Such is the disconnect between politicians and those who would destroy a civilization that’s taken thousands of years to build!

And all of these horrific things trickled into existence because successive generations of politicians were ‘asleep at the switch’ at the moment selfish people decided to steal a country or a region from woefully unprepared politicians and an innocent and all too naive public.

Anyone who goes along with the mad plot to divide the United Kingdom should be charged with High Treason and locked-up for 20-years. And if the UK government doesn’t act decisively to prevent this madness the former Troubles in Northern Ireland may, in retrospect, seem like a fight between tots in the schoolyard. And the United Kingdom will be in for yet another 20-years of terrorism, self-doubt, and recrimination.

Surely, the UK people deserve better than that!

Surely, the Westminster politicians are up for this and won’t allow a small band of elitists to steal Scotland, or Northern Ireland, or Wales, from the UK?

Please tell me Westminster, that you aren’t afraid to act, that you have a robust plan to deal with these insane gadabouts, that you care about the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, and that you want a peaceful and prosperous UK to continue for many decades to come!

Because, so far, I’m completely underwhelmed by Parliament’s response to the insidious poison being spread to the media by some incredibly reckless, feckless, and crass Scottish elitists and their EU partners in crime.

Scots still don't want a 2nd referendum on independence. UK Daily Mail

Some reckless UK citizens want to break-up the UK, even though they’ve lost every Scottish independence referendum yet. ‘Scots still don’t want a 2nd referendum on independence’ image courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Post-Brexit: Building a License-Based UK Manufacturing Sector

by John Brian Shannon

One of the great things about Brexit will be the opportunity for the UK to sign trade deals with any country in the world and some of those trade deals may be quite innovative in nature. Novel trade opportunities shouldn’t be discounted simply because no one has ever done them, but such deals should be judged on their own merits.

In the age of the 3D-printing technology for example, there’s no reason why a company in America can’t electronically transmit code to a 3D-printer in the UK, allowing the UK company to manufacture the item there. Of course, this means paying a license fee to the American company, but think of the convenience for that UK manufacturer! Not to mention instant access to the item for the UK customer, and it means jobs at both ends of the equation. If you’re concerned about the CO2 emissions involved in shipping something from America to the UK, you’ll appreciate that transmitting a few hundred lines of computer code creates only a fractional amount of CO2.

Even better, is the case for cars and trucks to be built in the UK under license from American automakers.

For example, Ford Motor Company may choose to sell millions of automobile VIN numbers (basically, the serial number of each car or truck) and the complete instruction set for building and assembling each car or truck, to a UK company that specializes in building Ford vehicles. The UK company would pay a per-vehicle license fee to Ford Motor Company U.S.A. and agree to maintain the same high manufacturing standards of the American automaker and it would be required by Ford U.S.A. to adhere to the same warranty terms and conditions.

But still! Think of the CO2 savings, think of the jobs created in the UK, think about the UK building all Ford cars and trucks in the UK for the domestic market and exporting millions of those built-under-license vehicles to Commonwealth countries that have right-hand drive cars. That market, the right-hand drive car and truck market in the Commonwealth of Nations, would become the UK’s ‘beat’ and Ford would grant exclusive rights to the UK company to sell millions of Ford cars and trucks throughout the entire Commonwealth. (Note: Canada drives left-hand drive cars like the U.S., so Canadian cars would continue to be produced in the NAFTA countries)

So far, I’ve only talked about Ford vehicles. But what if it was all vehicles?

What if all American, Japanese, Korean and EU car manufacturers decided to make the same amount of profit per car as they do now, but only needed to sell a VIN number and the ‘vehicle blueprint’/computer code for each car to a UK manufacturer in order to do so? Ergo, all right-hand drive cars destined for UK and Commonwealth customers would be built in the UK and exported, where necessary, from Bristol.

What if it was more than cars and trucks?

What if Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin sold per unit license fees to UK manufacturers, along with Bombardier and Embraer? What if Caterpillar heavy equipment and Toshiba and Hyundai Heavy Industries sold per unit license fees to UK companies? Yes, those companies would earn the same profit per unit as they do now — by selling only the license fee and VIN number and the technical aspects to the UK company — which, in turn, would manufacture those units within the UK and offer them for sale in the UK and to Commonwealth of Nations countries exclusively.

I’m still not done! What if everything sold in the UK was manufactured in the UK? How many jobs would that create?

What if you wanted a right-hand drive Mercedes CLA 250 4MATIC coupe? And what if you could simply order it from Mercedes online, and the Mercedes Benz approved manufacturer would fly you from anywhere in the UK to the factory in Bristol to pick up your new car, right off the assembly line. Some people might like to arrive a day early to watch their own car being built to their own option specifications. Then, you could take a nice leisurely drive home in your brand new car and not have to pay £2000 in shipping costs to get the car delivered from Germany, as is the case now.

What if you wanted an ACER computer, or a Lazy-Boy brand reclining chair? What if you wanted a Texas A&M hoodie for walks with your dog in cool weather? Get one for the dog too, is my advice, you’ll look great together! Or, what if you wanted the latest Italian cookware? Now, what if you could simply buy what you wanted, but it was manufactured in the UK under license from the original manufacturer, and in so doing, you received it sooner, with lower shipping costs, and far lower CO2 emissions — compared to the item being manufactured overseas and then shipped to the UK?

And what about companies in the UK making those items (and many more!) for Commonwealth of Nations consumers — which will number 2.5 billion by 2022?

Great for exports and great for those countries! Why? Well, assuming the UK government doesn’t blow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, there won’t be enough labourers in the UK to build all those cars, trucks, forklifts, computers, furniture, t-shirts, medical instruments, dishwashers, etc., etc., etc., and the UK will need to import Commonwealth workers to keep up with demand. Which itself, will help Commonwealth nations improve their per capita, disposable income — meaning, they’ll have more opportunity to afford such items.

Yes, via the UK hiring Commonwealth workers for UK assembly plants, people from Commonwealth nations will then have more money to spend on UK-manufactured goods, goods that might well be assembled by their very own children who work in the UK during their gap year between high school and university. Even mature workers from Commonwealth nations should be able to gain a UK work visa for one-year, to earn some British sterling, thereby advancing their own family finances, and find themselves better able to purchase a UK manufactured car or other item once they return home.

Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Just look at what JFK did… he promised America would put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, and he succeeded in that. Nobody else was doing it, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.

All the UK needs now is for a JFK-like leader (either in UK politics or a captain of industry) to do what nobody else is doing and make this thing fly. Many will say it can’t be done, but I don’t believe it for a second. Only mediocre people say things can’t be done.

So, stop talking about it, and get it done!

Because if you think you can dither and delay for 3.5 years like you did with Brexit, don’t bother trying, as you’ll soon find that every country in the world has beaten you to the punch and it will no longer be worth doing.


It Couldn’t Be Done

by Edgar Albert Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and get to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it!

                          ###


And this is the attitude sorely lacking in recent generations. In my generation (yes, I know what that sounds like) our generation arrived at the best plan and got right to it.

We left our egos at the door, we left our personal lives at home, and we got the job done on-time and on-budget — or we were judged by our peers to be ‘not worth spit’.

And while that modality may seem harsh to some, it’s the best way to build a rocketing middle class economy, it’s the best way to create a thriving family lifestyle, and it’s the best way to stay ahead of our competitors who aren’t in the business of working for our best interests.

‘All for one and one for all, must henceforth be Britain’s clarion call’ if post-Brexit Britain is to succeed!