Is The BBC Worth Saving?

I won’t be paying the licence fee when I’m 75. It won’t exist by then and the BBC might be extinct too.

Unless it really sharpens up, ships out all the wasted dross and pointless execs/general management, it doesn’t have a chance. Former marketing whiz (allegedly) Tim Davie is now head honcho with the bizarre Director General title and oh what a lovely mess he’s inherited.

He is stating stuff I said constantly when I was at the BBC for 12 long years. Back then, and I got out in 2006, there were always too many over promoted managers with spurious titles doing nothing except having meetings and protecting their positions. Not enough money going on screen (£100 million of our money now being invested in ‘diversity and inclusion’ – really??)

People who have reached 75 will have been paying their licence fee for 50 odd years. You’d think by the time they reached this age the very least the BBC could do would be to let them, sometimes their only viewing public, watch programmes for free. As DG at the last licence fee negotiation, Tony Hall agreed to free over 75s licences and the BBC should be ethical, keep its word and not wriggle out of a vitally important commitment to its core viewers and listeners.

As it was in 1994-2006 so it is now. The BBC knows its core audience because it spends so much money on marketing research. Instead of reaching the obvious conclusion that most programmes should be targeted at the key majority of viewers, (  instead the corporation continues to try and lure in younger viewers without much success, ignoring the fact that they don’t pay the licence fee  They watch programmes on their phones, iPads or laptops, or at home where mum and dad pay the TV tax.

I can’t remember how but I came across the now much garlanded Fleabag 3 years ago as I never watch BBC3. I was intrigued  by the title, binge watched both series, and then demanded that my girlfriends do the same and enjoy Phoebe Waller Bridge’s brilliance. I also watched Normal People and loved it, ditto Michaela Coel’s sensation I May Destroy you. A gifted and multi talented writer/performer.

Of course it’s right that the national public service broadcaster nurtures young talent and tries to encourage a younger audience to the brand but must stop doing it at the expense of the people who pay for it. I like watching the quiz show Pointless but why am I bombarded with trailers for the truly talentless reality TV ‘celebrity’ Gemma Collins’ podcast. And why is the ubiquitous Rylan Clark-Neal everywhere, on TV, has his own Radio 2 show.  Commissioners please note: showing off and being over confident is not a talent.

But the BBC is hopelessly behind, a classic boiling frog (aka BBC) scenario with the water getting hotter and hotter as Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Prime and Apple TV start a territory takeover with big stars and many top quality programmes. What has the BBC been doing all these years, watching their audiences being chipped away and worrying that they might lose their £5billion, upset a young person in Wakefield, allow presenters and news readers (not news makers) to express their views and partiality when the BBC is supposed to give unbiased output. The water is reaching boiling point.

So, good luck Tim. Although there’s hardly anything I want to watch on any of the channels, The Archers has been destroyed during lockdown and don’t mention Desert Island Discs and Lauren Laverne…..I basically still love Radio 4, some of BBC Four and Line of Duty. It’s worth saving but you have to be a bravy Davie and really trim the fat beast.