Monday, 25 June 2007
Under the hammer
The BBC's "Homes under the Hammer" isn't a TV program; it is an infomercial. It is there to pump up the UK housing market with cheap fantasies about easy money just sitting there in the home auction market.
Each program takes the same ugly format; the presenters find some crappy run down house, that usually comes onto the market because the previous owner has died. There is a quick walkabout followed by the appearance of a "local property expert", which is BBC-speak for an estate agent. There follows an price evaluation, which invariably comes in at some obscenely low level.
The next shot takes us over to the auction. The camera scans around at some competitive buy-to-let types, anxiously bidding away for the housewreck presented a minute or so earlier. After a few nods, winks and raised eyebrows, some mug outbids the rest and we have an auction winner.
The presenters then do a second walk-through with the new owners. The quick on-site interview reveals that owners are in fact, part-time property developers drawn like flies to the proverbial dump, in search of easy cash.
The new owners invest in a new bathroom, some plaster, and a couple of cans of paint. The "local property expert" then reappears and with all the gravitas that they can muster, declare that "if I were to put this property on the market today, I would list it in the high-gazzillions". The camera quickly flashes back to the new owners, who gratefully say "well, I never knew that it would list for that much."
How does this pass for entertainment? What is worse, the BBC funds this program with a tax - the TV licence. Can anyone justify why taxes are being used to produce these adverts for the property industry? These programs is publicity, and the estate agents, builders and buy-to-let idiots who benefit from such programs should be paying for them.
Think about what is going on here. The British public are paying a tax to finance a TV station that puts out programs that creates a speculative frenzy in the housing market. Where is the public interest here?
There are only two roads out of this madness. First, the BBC should charge a fee to the housing industry. Moreover, the programs should carry a warning that they are, in fact, infomercials. Second, the TV licence should be abolished and the BBC should be privatized.