BBC future becomes hot topic in upcoming UK general election


The 2010 UK general election is just around the corner (6 May.2010). Surprisingly, the future of the BBC is shaping up as BBClogobeing one of the top issues facing the voting populace with the Conservative Tory party coming out strongly to cut the BBC license fee which, some say, could jeopardize its future. Both the Labour and the LibDem parties have showed support for the BBC in their published party manifesto. The current government-set license fee structure is for  145.50 pounds ($225) per household, per year, for a color set and 49 pounds ($75.80) for a black & white license and is in place through 2012. In addition to access to BBC channels, the fee goes towards all of the BBC’s services on television, radio and online presence.

Leading comedians and actors speak out

RogerLloydPackIn a letter signed by some 50 plus of Britain’s leading comedians and actors, including Eddie Izzard, David Tennant, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Peter Capaldi, the BBC was categorized as Britain’s most important cultural institution. Another vocal leader in defense of the BBC is Roger Lloyd Pack (Vicar of Dibley, Only Fools and Horses, The Old Guys) who raised fears that “advert breaks could be introduced on the BBC“. He also said, “If we attack the way the BBC is funded, we’ll end up with no channel where viewing isn’t disrupted by commercials every 15 minutes. Watching the likes of David Attenborough’s documentaries would never be the same again.

  • I suspect they don’t know how good they’ve got it as far as radio goes. Cut the license fee? Poof goes “The Archers.” Bye, bye “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.” Would we have “Ladies of Letters” on the telly if it hadn’t been on radio first?

    American radio has become (to reuse a phrase) a vast wasteland of (to reuse another phrase) news and disc jockeys, disc jockeys and news. We don’t have the opportunity to listen to new audio drama, to readings of books, to chat shows that have more substance than someone shouting political code phrases down a microphone. (Well, yes, there is public radio in its various forms, but they don’t have nearly the resources of the BBC, nor the market penetration of their commercial competitors. They’re stuck on the low end of the FM spectrum for the most part.)

    If the BBC gets stuck airing ads, they’ll find themselves catering to the lowest common denominator, just like here in America. Sigh.

    • Julie: Very true. Both historically up through to even today’s comedy output, so much starts our on Radio 4 and testing or proving ground and really is responsible for much of the comedy, even today. Cutting back on TV also will drop the output. What BBC 2-4 have brought with them is the ability to try new things for a varied audience that would have never seen the light of day had there just been a BBC One to work with.

  • Tony

    Hi there, I like your blog, I’ve just recently arrived in the area and enjoyed the radio programming too.

    I think there is a good reason to look at the license fee in tighter economic times in my humble opinion.

    On a specific point the Beeb has really got very little value out of BBC3 & 4 (to my disappointment). For example it was strange to see re-runs of the old (Adam West) Batman series on BBC4. The remit of this channel is “Everyone needs a place to think!” – perhaps that includes caped crusaders! That’s an isolated example but generally speaking the channels (which also only air from 7pm) have been disappointing.

    I could go on…

    Saying that, the genuine concern is that the Conservative party may be taking this position as the price for support by the Murdoch press in UK. However I can’t really see there being popular support for advertising on the traditional BBC channels.

    • Tony: Welcome to Tellyspotting! Good points all the way around. BBC 3 and 4 are definitely under-utilized channels. Hopefully, this will be the wake-up call needed to get back to what they do and do best and they’ll lose the Batman re-runs. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t BBC 3 and BBC 4 provided some great testing grounds for edgier comedy and drama that would never have seen the light of day years ago when only option was BBC One or BBC Two? I think we’d all lose out should they suffer. Sadly, I also agree with your assessment as to why you think the Conservative Party has taken on the license fee review in their manifesto.

  • Tony

    Bill, I guess we would never know! There have been some good shows which have been hosted by the channel, those which come to mind are Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, Gavin and Stacey, Monkeydust amongst others. Would they have gotten on to BBC Two? Who knows!

  • Only Fools and Horses is now showing in Australia at 6:30 every evening on Fox Classics. It may be 4:30 in the eastern states, check your local guides, as they say. The shows are from the mid 80’s but still hilarious.

    http://www.oztvreviews.com/2011/04/farewell-john-sullivan-rip/