Inform, educate and entertain. Reith’s motto and fight for an independent BBC still remain today. Now, after the government published its white paper yesterday, what can we expect from the British Broadcasting Corporation in the future?
With BBC Three now online-only, the BBC has finally jumped on the bandwagon in an attempt to appeal to young people. It faces tough competition from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and until now the ‘iPlayer loophole’ has meant that it’s the only free online TV service – where those without a licence can watch programmes. However, in the new government white paper, this loophole is closed and only licence holders can watch BBC content. Personally, with most young people watching BBC shows thanks to their parents paying the fee, or because they live in student accommodation, 16-25 year olds can still watch the BBC for free – in some respects. In that case, it certainly has an advantage over Netflix and Amazon Prime, where the young person has to pay for the subscriptions themselves. The only issue is how this restriction will be put in place, and how student accommodation would work with this.
Speaking of BBC Three, I’m not too sure about the abolition of the BBC Trust. I remember taking part in the public consultation about the closure of the channel, and it definitely felt inclusive. Now that these responsibilities have been left to Ofcom, I can only hope that this strong level of interaction and consultation with the public continues. In terms of independence, it’s great to see the paper reference the BBC as being separate from government involvement – it’s exactly how it should be. But, in terms of the BBC board, I do hope government ministers do not get to sit on this, as that really would affect the independence the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale seems to champion in this white paper.
Lastly, the call for the BBC to create “distinctive media content” and the belief that the BBC One “schedule has become less inventive and risk-taking over the past 10 to 15 years”. Obviously this also includes radio as well as TV content, but one of the taglines which BBC One uses is ‘original British drama’. However, I would agree that the BBC needs to move away from entertainment, “property and collectibles programming’.
On the whole, whilst there are some things to keep an eye on, it still preserves the key values of the BBC and its independence. Whilst there was concerns over this, the proposed changes help to create a stronger British Broadcasting Corporation and that’s a great thing.
What do you think about these planned changes to the BBC? Comment below!