Is the BBC still relevant?
The future of the BBC is coming under immense scrutiny and just like many other organisations is making sweeping cuts, especially to its hundreds of freelance staff from make-up artists to journalists. Some of these cuts have been in the pipeline for a while, some are as a result of COVID-19. Nevertheless, Republic Relations contacts at the Beeb are very concerned about their future and the future of the BBC model as a whole.
The media landscape is changing at a pace we care scarcely keep up with and less people than ever are watching terrestrial telly. Certainly, the younger generation get their news online and are entertained via a multitude of video screening services.
Funding has been contentious for some time. If you want to watch the BBC you must have a TV licence which costs £157.50 For the BBC that money represents 76% of its total income, and pays for TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps. Although this funding regime is guaranteed until 2027, the review could come sooner.
Is the BBC worth the licence fee?
The £157.50 licence is applied to households and not individual televisions. Broken down by day the fee costs households just a few pence and we do get quite a bit for our money. Television of course, which is free of annoying advertising breaks. Radio, both national and local and including many specialist channels that would probably not exist if the BBC did not make them. We also have the BBC website which is the most visited website in the world – in the world! iPlayer is one of my favourite BBC channels and, of course, there are many wonderful apps. Personally, I love BBC Sounds for the fabulous dramas I can listen to as I am pottering about.
We also tend to forget about other arms of the BBC such as the World Service for example which still provides radio and news to far flung corners of the world. It is the world’s largest international broadcaster and greatly valued by millions of people. Then there is BBC Bitesize which provides online support for primary and secondary school children, teachers and parents – it has certainly proved its worth during the lockdown.
My conclusion therefore is yes, it is value for money. All of this entertainment for a few pence a day. No argument there.
Is the BBC impartial?
Another criticism of the Beeb is that is has a left-wing bias. John Humphry’s, a stalwart on the Today programmed admitted on leaving the show, that BBC bosses pushed ‘liberal-left bias, and failed to understand the UK public and the vote for Brexit.’ More recently, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis was slated when she shared her own personal views on what should be an impartial news programme.
As a former BBC employee, with many friends and business contacts who work at the BBC, I have to agree that most of them do fall into the liberal left camp. However, to be fair you will find that bias among most broadcast journalists. (That is just my experience and opinion of course, and I am sure you will have your own!)
Having said all of that, visitor numbers t
o the BBC website show that billions of people still turn to the BBC as a trusted source for news. In this ‘fake news’ world we find ourselves living in, liberal left bias or not, I for one am grateful for it and would hate to see the website go.
To conclude, yes, the BBC has its problems and its staff tend to lean towards the left, but
overall, it’s a news source I and million others trust. It offers astonishing value for money and provides services that no other broadcaster would or could. So, come the revolution, I will be fighting its corner.