YESTERDAY we published a post entitled ‘How to solve the problem of the BBC’ and promised to publish a selection of readers’ responses. Here are the first:
From Jeremiah Picton, a health service administrator:
The vultures are circling. If the BBC does not rapidly reform itself it will be dismembered. Craig Byers on Tuesday rightly called out the organisation and finance but the remains would be unrecognisable and die.
This would be a shame. For all the foibles, the BBC remains a much-loved institution and is part of our inner feeling of Britishness. What it needs to do is to reform itself and get back to its core role as an independent public broadcaster. So what has dragged it into the abyss in which it now finds itself?
Firstly, the public are tired of so-called stars draining hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence fees. Many of my generation enjoy Steve Wright and Vanessa Feltz, but why do they need to pay these two, who are after all glorified disc jockeys, £465,000 and £355,000 respectively? What better quality of newsreader is Huw Edwards over, say, Sophie Raworth to justify the £495,000 given to the Welshman? What quality of football punditry can justify £440,000 given each year to Alan Shearer?
Secondly, affordability needs to be looked at in relation to value to listeners and viewers and availability elsewhere. What do Radio 1 and Radio 6 contribute that is not readily available on commercial radio? How can we justify the horrendous costs for content and presenters to maintain Match of the Day? Do we really need to use our licence fees to fund high-cost costume dramas?
Thirdly, I know little of the BBC management structures, but expert after expert tells us that they are too top-heavy and too expensive. It seems to me that an external review followed by root and branch reform is warranted.
Fourthly, News and Current Affairs, the BBC flagship and the raison d’être of our public broadcaster, has lost its independence and impartiality. If we did not believe this before Brexit, it is now so obvious that news buffs are turning to ITV News for a more balanced view. It is not coincidental that the Spectator runs Robert Peston’s and not Laura Kuenssberg’s blog. It is difficult to fix this bias which lies with the prejudice of many of the presenters. However the editorial policy leans towards giving enormously more airspace for Remainers than Brexiters. This is but the current example. Others will follow, and what is needed is an independent scrutiny panel sitting weekly to ensure editorial impartiality.
Well then, how do we ensure that we keep our much loved institution and keep the abolitionists at bay? It is simple. Money remains at the root of everything. We provide the money and Parliament ensures its allocation to the broadcaster. Parliament can simply require changes or turn off the tap. Any previous medium-term settlements can be amended as necessary. If the issue is not addressed we will all be poorer.
From Lawrence John, a consultant:
Thanks for the fantastic ConWom – I read it every day.
The suggested solution is far too complex, far too slow, far too expensive and meddles far too much.
1. Revoke Charter for not being met;
2. Reduce public funding to zero, with 12 months notice, no extension, no exceptions;
3. Let BBC execs handle the privatisation, selling off local radio, monetising iPlayer, shutting down things that will not pay, and firing themselves.