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Culture Secretary's attack on BBC over top-slicing

Posted by Gerry Morrissey on 15 July 2009

Yesterday's piece in the Financial Times which quoted the new Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, (Bradshaw on attack over BBC leadership, 14 July 2009) will do nothing to persuade BBC staff that the Digital Britain consultation is a genuine and transparent process.

The Digital Britain report, published on 16 June, promises some welcome and radical changes, but in doing so it also proposes a wholly negative and damaging threat to the BBC's funding and to the Corporation's independence. The proposal to siphon off 3.5 per cent of the BBC's income, equivalent to £130million, will do untold damage to the BBC's output and to its position as the 'cornerstone of UK broadcasting' a principle which Ben Bradshaw's predecessors have sworn to uphold.

So unorthodox is Mr Bradshaw's approach to the Digital Britain consultation (not to mention future relations with BBC management), that I have written to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to ask for his assurances about the consultation. If top-slicing is introduced it will damage the BBC for evermore and with it the BBC's standing around the world and the significant contribution which the UK's cultural goods make to the economy.

I don't know who Ben Bradshaw has spoken to in support of his attack on the BBC, but he is 100% wrong if he believes that BBC staff back top-slicing. They don't. Furthermore they will expect their management to protect the interests of the BBC; that, after all, is what the BBC's management are employed to do at a fundamental level.

We, and many other interested parties, including our fellow FEU unions, other broadcasters and consumer groups, all of whom recognise the value of public service broadcasting and the BBC's pivotal role in this, will be campaigning to remove these proposals from the Digital Britain report.

An Early Day Motion against top-slicing of the BBC licence fee is now being circulated in Parliament and all members are being encouraged to urge their MPs to sign up to it. 

We'll also be taking the campaign to the Labour Party conference on 30 September where we'll be holding a fringe meeting to discuss these critical issues. We hope the Culture Secretary will join us there.

Comments

Geoff B 31 July 2009
The government is using the switch to digital as a smoke screen to conceal a totally misguided attempt to meddle with how television is funded. Here in the UK we have a perfectly good arrangement. On the one hand the BBC is funded via the licence fee and therefore does not need include advertising in the programmes it shows. On the other hand commercial TV companies use advertising to fund their activities. Viewers get a choice as to whether they watch advertising or not. 'Top-slicing' would take away that choice. It would also remove the healthy competition between the BBC and commercial companies which provides a spur to the production of programmes viewers want to watch. 'Top-slicing'is therefore a thoroughly bad idea.
Geoff B 31 July 2009
The government is using the switch to digital as a smoke screen to conceal a totally misguided attempt to meddle with how television is funded. Here in the UK we have a perfectly good arrangement. On the one hand the BBC is funded via the licence fee and therefore does not need include advertising in the programmes it shows. On the other hand commercial TV companies use advertising to fund their activities. Viewers get a choice as to whether they watch advertising or not. 'Top-slicing' would take away that choice. It would also remove the healthy competition between the BBC and commercial companies which provides a spur to the production of programmes viewers want to watch. 'Top-slicing'is therefore a thoroughly bad idea.
Cobol74 22 August 2009
Do I want Licence fee money to be to a commercial organisation to subsidise content on the television paid for by advertising so that share holders in these organisation can make more money? You know tax the poor to subsidise the rich idea. You bet I do - what a fantastically good idea. Who are these poor people anyway? Why have they the termerity to want to watch TV anyway? We at New Labour detest the poor. we want our mates in the media to back us in the coming election so our plan is to give them the dosh. Pah the poor I say. ...

Gordon Brown (not the same)
Car Insurance Guy 11 November 2009
Ah!!! at last I found what I was looking for. Somtimes it takes so much effort to find even tiny useful piece of information.
Nice post. Thanks

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