Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Future of the BBC to be determined this week

Director-General of the BBC: Tony Hall
Lately, the BBC has been under scrutiny as the review into the 2016 charter renewal continues. This will determine how the BBC will proceed and if they will still get funding via television license fees or through other methods.

The BBC, unlike any other British broadcaster, does not include paid advertisements on their television stations, radio stations, or even on their website. Instead, since 1946, they have been funded by a form of tax which they negotiate with the government. This is currently £145.50 per household.

The TV license fee raised a total of £3.735 billion in 2014-2015. Just under £2.4 billion is spent on TV, £653 million on radio, £201 million on online, £254 million on BBC World Service, and £519 million on other services.

The culture secretary, John Whittingdale, is to unveil a green paper this week in Parliament indicating what the future of the BBC will be. He has had eight experts advising him all with vast amounts of experience from across the industry. It's predicted that the green paper will not speak favourably about the BBC as Whittingdale has said in the past that the license fee is 'worse than poll tax'. It's also been reported that some of the eight advisors also don't approve of the TV license fee.

It is worth remembering though that unlike other broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4, and Sky; the BBC doesn't just offer a range of TV channels and online catch up services. They also offer services such as Bitesize (a learning resource used by primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges up and down the country to help educate pupils), BBC News (an unbiased 24-hour news channel plus the sixth most visited UK website), and advert-free local radio and local TV stations. This week they launched their own simple computer called the 'micro:bit' to help teach students how to code. This goes to prove the BBC is much more than simply another broadcaster.

Even the services which they offer which are similar to those of competitors are far more supreme. For example: iPlayer (the BBC's on-demand service) has been executed far better than rival counterparts such as 4OD and ITV Player.

Supporters of the BBC are campaigning hard to retain the license fee as they claim "a diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain".

However, it's undeniable that the BBC does waste money. According to the latest transparency report published in spring, there are 14 presenters/performers who earn over £500,000 every year. These are likely to include Jeremy Paxman, Fiona Bruce, Jeremy Clarkson, Gary Lineker, and Graham Norton.

Furthermore, in 2013 it was reported that £2 million was spent on food and drink including farewell parties for leaving staff. Also, John Linwood was fired from the corporation after he wasted £100 million on a failed 'digital media initiative'.

From a consumer point of view, many now splash out on subscriptions to other entertainment services including Netflix, Sky, BT Sport, Amazon Prime, and Virgin Media which are all significantly cheaper than the BBC licence fee.

If the license fee does stay, one of the compromises might be a change in programming. Despite the current Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall wanting BBC programs to continue to appeal to a diverse range of people (the BBC predicts that 96% of Brits consume their service weekly), there are rumours that suggest that a lean back to more educational shows rather than entertainment ones might be in order. This would mean an increase in programs such as David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet and Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe, and a decrease in programs such as The Voice and Eastenders.