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Should The Licence Fee Pay For People Who Don’t Watch the BBC?

There was an interesting cover story in this weekend’s Sunday Times magazine about the state of the BBC, written by Roger Mosey a former head of BBC News. It was very slanted – and critical – about the BBC’s news offering but as a former insider he also focused on the challenges facing this world famous British institution.

He not only talked about the competition – Netflix, Amazon etc but also the fact that the BBC must do more to attract a younger audience. I spent 12 years working for the BBC and this is what they have been banging on about for years. Mosey thinks they aren’t doing enough, while I think they are doing too much.

Ignoring your core audience while chasing a new one, especially one that is really not interested in you, is a huge mistake. Marks and Spencer hired bright young things to design unwearable fashion collections (Alexa Chung anyone) and although fashionistas snapped up ‘on trend’ pieces, regular customers thought M&S were ignoring them and took their much needed custom elsewhere. M&S also didn’t make enough stock of the more popular items in any collection and ran out pretty quickly, making many customers frustrated at the company’s lack of simple logistics, basic customer service and vision.

It was clear they didn’t know what they were doing and hired so called fashion experts who wouldn’t have shopped in M&S for anything other than tights and maybe bras and knickers to tell them what their customers wanted. Apart from the continuing success of their food sales, they are having to close at least 100 stores because they are haemorrhaging money, and in doing so alienating their core market and making retail spaces across the country more desolate and desperate than they already are.

The BBC has been badly managed for years, wasting millions of its licence fee on spurious middle management jobs and titles for overpaid people who manage upwards and contribute nothing. The money that they waste is on a catastrophic level should be going into programmes and what we see on screen.

It took me years to discover Radio 4, which I now regard as being worth the cost of my licence fee alone. But the BBC is fiddling with Radio 4, trying to attract a younger audience – who are mostly not remotely interested in it. There are still plenty of programmes on other music channels for young people. Let them discover the delights of Radio 4 when they are ready for thought provoking content and not just listening to people they can agree with. University students apparently unilaterally ban anyone who doesn’t fit in with their PC dominated opinions eg Germaine Greer ,David Starkey etc.

The BBC is the most recognisable British brand worldwide, next to the Queen. Even in the remotest parts of the world the BBC is a British brand that people have heard of. So yes, pay the licence fees of aged 75+ pensioners who have been paying their licence fees all of their working lives and make programmes that your core audience want to see. Good programmes have no age limit. I discovered the first series of Fleabag in February 2017 and sent links to my friends because I thought it was brilliant (now everyone in the media agrees with me…ha ha)

Put the money on screen, not on over priced apps that no one likes (BBC Sounds) or wants. Don’t overpay presenters, develop fresh talent both on screen and off, which is what the BBC has always done. Just about everyone in the best independent production companies in the UK has worked for or at the BBC at some point in their career.

If the BBC Board don’t wake up soon they institution will become evermore irrelevant. Btw, don’t bother with a subscription channel, which would make me pay to watch programmes I’ve already paid for…..