BBC was beset by "hippie influences" in the 1970s, say Govt. documents

London, Dec 30: The BBC was reportedly beset by "hippie influences" during the 1970s, an attitude which almost cost it its television license fee.

Secret Government documents from the 1970s reveal that not only was the BBC compared to the hippie lifestyle, but was also run by producers who thought everyone around them was "a s**t".

Sir Michael Swann, the former Chairman of the BBC, made the comments in 1975, during a dinner with Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister, who deplored the "lavish over-expenditure" of the corporation.

"Too many young producers approached every programme they did from the starting point of an attitude about the subject which could be summed up as: 'You are a s**t', a situation he 'deplored'," Times Online quoted Swann as having said at the meeting.

As per the confidential minutes of the meeting, which were found among the secret Government documents, there had been plans to do away with BBC's television license fee to make it more accountable to state control.

The plans to impose "financial discipline" on the BBC had been made between Wilson and Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary, in order to arrest the "decline in the standard of broadcast English" brought about by the "casual" speech of radio DJs.I think the time has come for us to give urgent consideration to alternative methods of financing the expenditure of the BBC," Wilson had written in a confidential note to Jenkins on October 30, 1974.

"The TV license itself is in many ways unsatisfactory. It is a regressive form of taxation," he had said.

The BBC asked for an increase in the licence fee in 1974, which then stood at 12 pounds per year for a colour television and 7 pounds for a black-and-white set.

The Prime Minister was reassured in a series of private notes that the BBC was a "national asset" and that "by international standards, our television is cheap and good value".

Eventually Wilson and later James Callaghan relented and gave the BBC the licence fee increase it desired.

The Government commissioned the Annan Report, which recommended that the BBC be allowed to retain the licence fee as its primary source of funding and also approved the creation of a fourth terrestrial channel, which became Channel 4.

Copyright Asian News International/