The Changing Face of the BBC

Debate surrounding the future of the BBC has been ongoing for several weeks, as the initial 1,000 job losses caused a series of debates and negotiations between the government and the public broadcaster.

The last couple of months have been busy for the BBC, with the axing of Jeremy Clarkson, the decision to switch BBC Three to become a solely online platform and the revelation that the BBC will be paying for the over 75’s licence fee from 2018-19. Audiences have taken to social media to voice their opinions. 

With all these changes a little explanation is needed, and who better to shed some light on the situation than Kettle’s very own Alex Veeneman?

Radio, What’s New?

Plently of people have expressed their worry for their favourite shows, but how might the cuts affect the Radio?

  1. I understand you enjoy the national radio stations that the BBC offers (Radio 1 to 4, World Service). How do you fear these stations may become compromised under the recent cuts?

First off, from observations and from the reporting that I’ve seen, radio is usually something that isn’t talked about a lot as far as the issue of cuts and the issue of trying to assess how the cuts would affect the future of the BBC.

What Radio 1 is trying to do is summarise British youth culture in as many ways as possible, but Radio 2 is trying to look at the music but also examine the music and the cultural surroundings of particular events. As far as that goes then you’ve got the most critically acclaimed stuff on Radio 3 and 4 and people think ‘Oh, this is what the BBC is known for’. This goes out around the world and if you mess this up it’s going to have a lot of people upset, but those are the big ones.

As far as radio goes, I suspect it may be going forward, but I think that the issue will be what Lord Hall can do to convince the government to keep things going and what John Whittingdale and his colleagues will be willing to do if they value the BBC or they want to, as many people say, demolish it.

In the context of this charter and the licence fee issues you are looking at a BBC that is more outward looking than inward looking, you’re not only looking at the interests of many millions of people across the UK, but at audiences in Africa and audiences in the United States, audiences everywhere who find comfort in what the BBC does and perhaps place more trust in the BBC compared to media in their own countries.

  1. From 2018-19 the BBC will be paying for the bill for over the 75’s licence fee. Is it possible younger audiences may become more of a priority for the broadcaster, and might threaten Radio 2 or Radio 4?

That’s tricky, because you can make the argument for the value of Radio 2 and Radio 4, while at the same time you can evaluate Radio 1 and BBC Three on the television side. I think the BBC as a public broadcaster is trying to do what every public broadcaster should do; try to reach every segment of the population as possible to give audiences a new perspective that they maybe wouldn’t get on the promotion side.

On one hand newsbeat did incredibly well leading up to the election and engaging young people on the lead up to the election and also documentaries that run across the station and they also do features that aren’t music related but address youth culture. That is how the BBC is trying to engage with younger audiences.

Because the BBC has a mandate to engage with all audiences, it’s a public broadcaster that is what it’s supposed to do, will it be able to continue that, will it be sustained, or will that not be possible? That will be one of the questions to ponder as these negotiations continue.

Money Money Money

  1. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called the agreement for the BBC to pay the over 75’s licence fee a “shabby deal”. Would you say this is accurate?

It does repeat the similar concerns of what happened in the 2010 spending review because it was behind closed doors from what I understand, there wasn’t really a lot of consultation and there’s that argument again now you may be seeing in some small fragments on social media, it is still behind closed doors and not really concerning the public.

As far as the deals go, I think this is early. This is not the be all and end all but the NUJ certainly has the right to object to it, I think this is a blue print of what the government wants from the BBC and again that is going to evolve as these things change. There is still time, there are still people who need to be consulted ad I think there will be more work done before folks come together and say ‘Ok we’ve got something and we can really go forward now and we can leave this issue behind us’.

Let’s Get Digital

  1. The BBC has used an online questionnaire to get feedback from their viewers on what they’d like to see more/less of from the broadcaster. Is this a good way for the BBC to get feedback from the audience?

I’ve seen people do it on Twitter so yeah, obviously online would be good in that aspect and again everyone’s opinion is different about the BBC’s content, it is good for the BBC to get the views of the public because it’s a public broadcaster, at the end of the day and that’s what has kept it going for 90 years.

The future of the BBC is what should happen in the digital age, as change in media happens and the question is how much of it are they able to cover? This is natural, this is happening not just at the BBC, but at newspapers and the commercial media; ITV is going through it, The Times is going through it, The Guardian is going through it, everyone is going through it. So these are natural questions that will obviously need to be considered. It’s an interesting debate; it’s going to be very interesting to see where it takes off.

Do you think that the BBC has a bleak looking future? Or is it too early to know? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!