The UK government is continuing to apply pressure on the BBC by announcing a ‘root and branch’ review of the corporation that is expected to question its size and activities.
Thursday has been slated for the release of a Green Paper that will explain the main issues government ministers aim to analyse over the corporation’s future. In tandem to the news, a new independent report into whether the non-payment of the licence fee should be decriminalised is scheduled for release on Tuesday.
The fate of the BBC has incited passionate arguments from both sides, with a raft of celebrities forming ranks to defend the corporation, whilst leading figures from the world of print media line up to applaud the pressure being applied from the government.
Celebrity figures including Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Attenborough, and JK Rowling have written an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron warning that the government’s planned reforms of the BBC will result in a “diminished Britain”, as reported by The Daily Telegraph. This followed an announcement from John Whittingdale, the UK Culture Secretary, that he has formed an advisory group to support the scheduled charter review.
The national newspapers were sounded out by George Osborne in an interview on The Andrew Marr Show, where he said that the corporation was “completely crowding out national newspapers”, and that its website, though a good product, is “becoming a bit more imperial in its ambitions.”
The BBC has already agreed to take on the cost of free TV licences for over 75s, and debate ranges as to the relevance of the licence fee in the modern age. A new survey carried out by TubeMogul, a digital branding software company, reveals that 60 per cent of 1,457 UK residents want the licence fee scrapped, and the corporation privatised.
Nick Reid, UK MD of TubeMogul, explained that the poll “is significant for the future of the BBC. Viewership is dropping, and viewers simply don’t want to pay a fee that they feel isn’t delivering value-for-money. Focus in the media has been largely on the importance of the BBC’s independence. Yet, the British public don’t really care about this issue and increasingly feel that it’s time to cut Auntie Beeb’s purse strings off.”
Today’s Green Paper will be followed by a public consultation.