With the Conservatives in full on ‘dead cat’ mode in an attempt to distract from Boris Johnson DEFINITELY hosting lockdown parties, the future of the BBC is once again up for debate.
Immediately people were up in arms as they jumped to either dam the Beeb or attempt to save it, but could it actually be a positive?
Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a purely politically motivated move. The Tory’s backers hate the BBC and want to see it curtailed, so ending the licence fee, leading to a funding gap estimated to be around £285m is seen to be the way of doing it, is seen as their way of doing it. Of course it is more the drama side than the news which will suffer, but there we go.
Equally yes the licence fee, which originally began as the radio licence fee, in fact pretty much all public service broadcasting, is antiquated and a new funding model is needed, it is impossible to ignore, it just isn’t living in the real world to expect people to pay a poll tax for having a TV.
The Isle of Man
While we do get to see the island on North West Tonight, as well as some money it throw’s Manx Radio’s way, we still get quite a bum deal off the BBC. In the Channel Islands, they have more TV news than us, they have radio stations with BBC Jersey and BBC Guernsey, we have a website and some occasional spots on the news.
Despite this, we, as taxpayers and licence holders, are paying twice for public service broadcasting, with over £1m to Manx Radio each year, plus what we pay for the Beeb, But, despite this we are getting a worse deal than anyone else in the British Isles.
But rather than seeing this as the death of the BBC, it can arguably be the kick in the arse it needs. The BBC is already embracing the Netflix and Prime model with Britbox, which it does in collaboration with ITV and Channel 4, but it can go so much further.
The BBC currently has one of, if not the, world’s largest audiences. A report in May 2021 showed it achieved an all-time record audience of 351m, in 42 languages including English, with the BBC’s global news services now reaching 438m every week.
Part of this is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, but if the BBC was to truly embrace the Netflix and Prime model on a global scale it could avoid the need for adverts while continuing to provide worldwide news coverage on TV and radio, as well as producing what is, let’s face it, some of the best drama series in the world.
From Sherlock to Doctor Who and Around the World in 80 Days to Line of Duty, the BBC produces astounding dramas, from Blue Planet to Green Planet and Louis Theroux to Panorama, it also produces some brilliant documentaries which are watched the world over.
If you take this worldwide market, turn them into monthly subscribers for new and classic content, the BBC could not only just survive on this new income, but thrive, pumping new money into dramas, comedies and documentaries to produce even greater content.
So while I believe this latest move is absolutely politically motivated, if the BBC was to embrace a worldwide subscription service it could be the beginning of a new golden era for British arts, instead of merely the ending of the old one.