BBC: Public share their views on TV licence fee
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
The move – to try to create a “modern BBC” – comes at a time the Corporation is forcing over-75s to pay the licence fee and closing regional news outlets to save money. Having spent the cash the BBC then tried to keep the cost of its “digital rebranding” a secret, rejecting repeated requests from the Daily Express under the Freedom of Information Act.
After an eight-month battle, the Information Commissioner ordered the broadcaster to reveal the cost of the exercise to us.
Rebecca Ryan, Campaign Director of Defund the BBC, said: “This is typical from the BBC. The organisation’s complete lack of transparency is one of the reasons thousands of people are choosing to stop funding it.
“Once seen as a cuddly, if slightly stuffy, elderly aunt, in its desperation to stay relevant with a disinterested youth audience, the BBC has morphed into a belligerent bully, lecturing us on how to think.
“It’s time to pull the plug on the TV licence and force the BBC to become answerable to those that choose to fund it.”
Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This latest BBC branding binge will surely give taxpayers a nasty hangover.
“It’s only worse that the Beeb bosses tried to hide to use every trick in the book to cover up this spending.
“It’s long past time that ministers axed the hated TV tax and gave Brits freedom of choice on whether to fund the BBC.”
The revamp cost £7,261,039, and was rolled out in October 2021 after market research suggested some people thought the BBC’s branding looked “old fashioned”. The corporation hired the top advertising agency Wolff Olins to work on the project.
New logos – which have met with a mixed response from licence-payers – were designed for the main TV channels BBC One, Two and Four and other services including iPlayer, BBC Sounds, Weather, Sport and Bitesize.
The main BBC logo saw changes including “three blocks incorporating the letters BBC will be slightly wider apart and will feature the corporation’s own Reith font”. The font named after the BBC’s founder Lord Reith replaced the existing Gill Sans one.
The changes were announced by Kerris Bright, the chief customer officer, earlier this year, who said at the time: “Updated, recognisable colours, logos and graphics will identify each service and help improve navigation between them.”
The huge cost of the exercise, equivalent to more than 45,000 TV licences, and the BBC’s attempt to hide it from scrutiny, was condemned by campaigners on Monday. We submitted our initial FOI in April, in which we asked what was the cost of the BBC’s rebranding process.
In May, the BBC replied and confirmed it held the information we asked for but had decided not to release it on the grounds it might harm their commercial interests.
Their response claimed: “Disclosing how much the BBC spent in connection with the logo re-design would be likely to prejudice its ability to secure value for money. For example, if the fee agreed with the supplier is revealed, future suppliers may expect to be paid a similar or higher fee than they would otherwise have sought.”
The Daily Express refused to accept the decision arguing that past contracts were irrelevant to future negotiations.
Following an internal review of the decision, the BBC accepted in June that there were insufficient grounds to justify withholding the information.
However, they exempted themselves for a new reason, this time saying they did not have a centrally held record of the full cost.
They wrote: “The BBC’s rebranding process is a complex project and involves many multiple inter-disciplinary teams and an external supplier.
“On liaising with senior colleagues in the BBC’s Brand division who have expert knowledge of the way such information is held by the BBC, to answer your request would take in excess of 18 hours to identify and extract the Requested Information.”
We rejected this excuse and appealed to the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) in June.
Finally, in December, the BBC reconsidered its decision and revealed the information we first requested in April.
The BBC’s written response explained that the cash was spent in a three-year effort to “re-engineer” its digital services for audiences “in line with their growing expectations for world-class digital products”.
It added: “The modernisation project to which you refer is part of this programme of work.
“The work we’ve undertaken is to help audiences to recognise and access BBC content seamlessly across this wide range of channels and services when they appear on multiple platforms, thereby enabling the public to consume more of what they pay for and provide maximum benefit for the licence fee.”
Under a section entitled “Next Steps”, the BBC concludes: “We will advise the ICO that a disclosure relevant to your request has now been made.”
A BBC spokesman said: “As previously reported, this project was a complete modernisation of all our services, platforms and channels, over a number of years to ensure what we provide meets audience expectation.”
The BBC calculates that at the time of the over-75s policy decision in June 2019, the estimated cost of providing licences for all over 75s was £745m a year by 2021/22. It was estimated that by the end of the next decade, this would rise to over £1 billion a year. The BBC funds licences for those aged over 75 and who are eligible for Pension Credit.
The BBC has claimed it is not “closing down regional news outlets to save money” but changing the delivery of its content for audiences.
The BBC has made over £1bn in savings over the last five years – significantly higher than its initial £800m target. The BBC’s overheads remain at industry-leading levels at less than 5 percent of our total costs, with 95 percent directed to programme-making and services.
Source: Read Full Article