Rob Yandell

Editor, Publisher, Events

BBC battering – be careful what you wish for

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The BBC has been through perhaps a unpresendented period of scrutiny and change, and rightly so – it was being managed poorly with public funding. But don’t forget what a brilliant institution it is, you’ll regret it if you bash it too hard.

The critics are at it again, arguing that the corporation should share its £3.6 billion of annual public funding with other broadcasters. Recent news coverage of the BBC has also included the idea of changing licence fee dodging to a civil, rather than a criminal conviction (which looks likely to happen) and this will also bite into the BBC’s coffers. The idea of scrapping the licence fee for an annual subscription worries me but by the end of the decade I would be surprised if this is not in place.

BBC Broadcasting House, London

BBC Broadcasting House, London.

Why are some trying to seemingly destroy something we should treasure? The BBC is the envy of the world and we should hold onto it with both hands. There has been scandal and mis-management yes, but with its latest director general, Lord Hall of Birkenhead I believe it is in much better hands.

It is going through a great deal of change and spending is being closely analysed like never before – the result of wasted millions, if not billions of pounds of licence fee money.

Making the BBC great again and developing public trust is a top priority but it will not come from turning it into a spent force, but by ensuring that it invests properly in its content for the benefit of everyone.

Lord Hall argued recently that forcing the BBC to compete for funding would not only damage its programmes but the entire British broadcasting industry. Surely this is obvious and you have to feel for the man – he must be wondering what he’s let himself in for.

There was outrage at proposals to axe BBC Radio 6 Music not long ago. It survived the chop but you can’t have it both ways; if you want to bash the BBC and reduce its spend then certain services and programmes, some of them treasured, will need to go. This now seems likely to include BBC3 with Lord Hall making the case for the station to move its content to the iPlayer only. Given its target audience perhaps this is an idea with merit, but I also read that BBC4 isn’t safe either.

It’s interesting to see the BBC put more emphasis on the iPlayer with a new look rolling out. Indeed, Lord Hall has argued that the licence fee should be extended and include people watching programmes on demand through this service – something it currently does not cover, only if you watch live TV.

How does the song go? You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Perhaps we should think about that sentiment now, before it’s too late and we destroy the BBC as we know it for good.

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Author: Rob Yandell

Editor, publisher, event organiser.

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