The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom today (12 May) criticised the proposals in the White Paper on the BBC as an attempt to radically undermine public service broadcasting The underlying strategy is to weaken the BBC’s ability to provide a full range of services.
* The licence fee continues to be raided to fund services previously provided by the government (S4C, World Service, licence fees for the over 75s) and to subsidise the commercial media (funding journalism for the newspaper industry, establishing a £60m fund for independent producers)
* It allows the BBC to contract out all its output, except news, to independent producers, weakens the BBC’s production base and the case for continued licence fee funding.
* The government wants the BBC ‘to consider whether elements of subscription could provide a more sustainable funding model in the longer term.’ This has long been pressed for by those who want the BBC’s presence in the communications industry reduced.
* By making Ofcom the regulator, the government is handing power to an organisation set up to promote commercial media. It may use the new power of making the BBC ‘provide distinctive content’ to limit its capacity to compete with commercial media on a range of programming.
CPBF National Council member, Tom O’Malley comments: ‘Most of these proposals will please the BBC’s commercial competitors, and weaken the Corporation’s ability to enrich, educate, entertain and inform the population, across all forms of content and types of media.
‘The government is engaged in the piecemeal privatisation of a major public resource, in a manner which parallels its approach to the NHS and local authority services’