Europe

BBC survival into question as ‘increasingly more difficult’ to justify hefty TV licence

BBC: Ian Collins discusses survival of organisation

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The BBC faced backlash from elderly Britons after announcing they would scrap the free TV licence scheme for the over 75s despite a previous agreement with the Government on providing the service for free. talkRADIO presenter Ian Collins questioned whether pressure to scrap the licence altogether will now increase further with the appointment of Nadine Dorries as head of the Department of Culture following criticism from the author towards the BBC’s licence arrangements. Mr Collins claimed that justifying the growing costs of BBC services has become “increasingly difficult” amid the arrival of free or cheaper streaming services.

Mr Collins said: “How do you reform the BBC? It’s now become almost impossible to defend the existence of the BBC.

“The state-funded broadcaster began its life nearly 100 years ago, it’s now in its most precarious position since it began.

“As an organization, it employs 22,000 people, if you factor in all the part-timers, that raises to 35,000 people. It has revenue of £5 billion and assets of over £2 billion.

“In short, this organisation is absolutely massive. But what do we get for our money? More crucially, this is key, what do we get that can’t be provided elsewhere for less or even for free? 

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“With the new Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, in the job, known to be critical of the BBC, can it survive? Do you even want the BBC to survive?”

Mr Collins remarked the BBC served a very useful purpose in the past in providing Britons at home and abroad with the latest news and entertainment.

But he suggested the presence of cheaper alternatives put the need for a national broadcaster into question.

He continued: “Once upon a time there was a place for the BBC, it sort of made sense you had a state-funded broadcaster, it provided radio and television for a grateful nation.

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“There were no other alternatives, getting the news out there and providing some light entertainment for the masses was seen as a huge public service.

“How could a nation survive without The Archers? During the war, its coverage was vital, for many reasons, as it grew so did the people who appeared on it.

“The Corporation made starts of the talent it employed, it employed the best and it made the best programmes, from the Sky at Night to Newsnight, Panorama to Poldark, and, of course, all those light entertainment in comedy format in-between.

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“But that was then as commercial TV entered the sphere and greater choices became available, it becomes increasingly difficult to defend a mandatory TV license, a fear that if you don’t pay, you could go to jail.”

The appointment of Nadine Dorries comes at a moment when the BBC is facing increasing questions over its future.

Ms Dorries previously wrote in her blog: “Such a structure of payment and aggressive persecution would be more in keeping in a Soviet-style country.”

She also accused the corporation of being a “biased Left-wing organisation.”

The BBC has always maintained to be a politically neutral organisation

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