Our BBC is under attack - we have to defend it
The BBC has been striving to do this for nearly 100 years.
Doctor Who, the Archers, Planet Earth, Eastenders, the World Service, 6Music, Only Fools and Horses, Fleabag, Bitesize, Cbeebies. What do all these fantastic programmes and services have in common? They've all come from OUR BBC.
But right now, the BBC is under threat. Nadine Dorries is threatening to defund it, leaving a £285m gap that will result in far fewer services and programmes.
What are the government's plans for the BBC?
The government are waging war against the BBC.
This is bad for our democracy. If the BBC were pulled apart, we'd have less access to independent, non-profit journalism that can hold truth to power. Our understanding of the world around us would be diminished. And losing the entertainment, comedy and drama we all love would leave our lives much less rich.
Since 2010, public funding for the BBC has been cut by a staggering 30% - undermining the future of the BBC. In this context, since the General Election, the government has been making moves to attack the BBC further:
- Boris Johnson's government had been boycotting Radio 4's Today Programme, meaning our decision-makers aren't justifying their actions to millions of listeners every morning. It took a global crisis in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic to break this boycott.
- The Sunday Times has reported senior government sources as saying that they are planning to force the BBC to sell off huge parts of its operations, including most of its radio stations bar Radio 3 and 4.
- The same report saw government sources claiming they plan to "whack" the BBC, scrap the licence fee and turn it into a subscription service.
The future of our BBC truly is under threat. We believe the BBC and public service broadcasting deserves fair funding for the long term.
Why does public service broadcasting matter?
Public service broadcasting is absolutely crucial to our country, culture and democracy. Lots of what the BBC currently provides just wouldn't be delivered by commercial media outlets.
During troubled times, the BBC plays a crucial role in distributing information to the public about how to stay safe and protect others, which allows us to plan our lives despite disruption and uncertainty.
Things like Welsh language TV, dedicated local and regional reporting, children's TV provided without advertising, BBC Bitesize, and so much more would be at risk if the BBC were stripped back and its services sold off. Much of this just wouldn't be viable for a private sector media organisation to provide - we'll only get it through a publicly owned, public service broadcaster.
People across the country rely on the BBC every single day:
- 97 per cent of adults in the UK use the BBC each week.
- BBC Bitesize - which provides free study materials - is used by 82 per cent of secondary school students in the UK.
- BBC News is the most trusted news provider in the UK.
- 94 per cent of the BBC's budget in 2018 was spent on first-run UK-originated content.
- The BBC has the highest audience share of any UK provider in both television and radio.
Stepping up to the plate on coronavirus
Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the BBC has demonstrated just how vital it is as our public service broadcaster.
The BBC has introduced a huge range of measures to guard people’s health and mental wellbeing during this crisis, including broadcasting exercise classes for older people, religious services, recipes and advice on food.
They’re also expanding their Bitesize education programmes while children are not at school, and making a BBC iPlayer for children, whereas ‘Culture in Quarantine’ will provide access to plays, exhibitions and book festivals virtually, and attempt to prevent a total shutdown of the creative industries.
At a time when Fox News claimed that coronavirus was no more dangerous than the flu, and that this was ‘another attempt to impeach the president’, our BBC has shown that it is a pioneering, responsive and responsible broadcaster.
We need to protect and improve the BBC - not destroy it
Our BBC is a national treasure - a media institution designed to educate, inform and entertain, that we all collectively pay for.
If we don't defend our BBC, we'll end up with nothing but Facebook and a Fox News style media, which will damage our democracy and hand yet more power to billionaire moguls.
Instead of letting the BBC be murdered by Murdoch, we want to make it better. The BBC should be fully independent of government, representative, diverse and accountable to us, the people.
To deliver a BBC that works for all, we need to:
Make sure the BBC stays a publicly owned and funded broadcaster which makes programmes for everyone - NOT a subscription service.
Create a proper process to make sure the BBC has fair and sustainable funding, while protecting vulnerable groups. The government should pay for over 75s, as they have for the past 20 years, along with low income groups.
Ensure the BBC is ready for its next 100 years as our broadcaster. Right now the government appoints BBC board members. We need an independent board with a citizens panel to give us a voice, make the BBC more diverse and cap excessive pay - and a stronger role for regional journalism.