BBC criticised for being 'fixated on youth' by campaigner
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Free TV licences for the over-75s were axed last year except for those who claim pension credit, the rest are expected to pay £159 to watch live TV and BBC iPlayer. The transition period for this change ended on July 31 with thousands of pensioners at risk of a £1,000 fine if they do not buy a licence. Defund the BBC Campaign Director, Rebecca Ryan, has warned the broadcaster’s focus on a younger audience will result in the older population switching off live TV.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Ryan said: “Young people really do not sit and wait in the evening to be shown whatever programme a broadcaster wants to show them at that time.
“That’s very much a thing of the past.
“I think it’s quite baffling to us to think why the BBC hasn’t taken the plunge into being a subscription service sooner.
“They know that it’s coming. They know they’re not going to change the tide on this and yet rather than appealing to the over 40s who still watch live TV, they’re fixating so heavily on the youth audience who are just not interested.”
The BBC should broaden its horizons beyond its central London and Salford bases, Media Minister John Whittingdale said, but he denied the Government was waging a “culture war” against the corporation and Channel 4.
Mr Whittingdale said the BBC’s own bosses were working on addressing criticism that it had been “too metrocentric” in the past.
And he defended the potential privatisation of Channel 4, arguing that the long-term viability of the broadcaster was at stake.
Mr Whittingdale told the PA news agency that the BBC “has been very clear it wants a more diverse workforce”.
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“(Director-general) Tim Davie has set targets in terms of the quality of representation in the workforce, across gender, across racial racial background.
“And we’ve also been very clear that it needs to be reflecting the UK as a whole – the nations and regions of the UK, and not just people who happen to live close to central London or Salford.”
Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested the BBC is damaging its reputation for impartiality by consistently making senior appointments from people on the political left and not the right.
Asked about his colleague’s comments, Mr Whittingdale said recruitment was a matter for the BBC, but added that the Government had “made it clear that we think it’s very important that the BBC reflects all viewpoints, and that it should be diverse in terms of its employment practice and the content it produces”.
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“I think there has been criticism in the past that the BBC has been too metrocentric, that it has overlooked some important opinions.
“And that is something which I know the director-general is focusing on.”
Mr Whittingdale rejected concerns set out by MPs and peers that the privatisation of Channel 4 could damage independent production firms in the UK, with cash instead flowing to multinational corporations.
A consultation on privatising the channel is under way and the minister said: “We are now in a world of many, many different content providers, a lot of whom are investing in UK production.”
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