Harold Wilson thought BBC had a ‘hippie problem’

December 30th, 2008 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 30 (IANS) Former British prime minister Harold Wilson attacked the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for “over-lavish” spending and thought it was influenced by hippies, according to secret papers made public Tuesday.In private exchanges with Home Secretary Roy Jenkins during his second stint as the prime minister in 1974, Wilson criticised the system of compulsory licence fees that British households must pay the BBC for watching television.

“This can only encourage the BBC’s tendency to over-lavish expenditure,” he said, singling out coverage of the October 1974 election campaign - in which he narrowly beat the Conservatives - for particular attack.

Wilson again discussed the BBC at a dinner in 1975 with its chairman Sir Michael Swann, who had recently taken the post after leaving an academic job at Edinburgh University.

The meeting notes said: “Talking about ‘hippie’ influences, Sir Michael Swann said that, while he would not pretend the BBC was clear of problems of this kind, it was a picnic compared with Edinburgh Uni.”

“Nonetheless he thought that too many young producers approached every programme they did from the starting point of an attitude which could be summed up as, ‘You are a s**t’,” the notes added.

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