Gail Renard

‘The BBC is paying us great dividends’

By WGGB General Secretary Bernie Corbett

BBC Love It Or Lose It. That was the slogan on everyone’s lips at a lobbying event and campaign meeting in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 10 June 2015, jointly hosted by Broadcast magazine and the entertainment unions, including WGGB.

Chris Bryant, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary, set the tone by describing the BBC as “the cultural NHS of this country”. He added: “It is the envy of every country in the world. The creative industries are the powerhouse of our economy and right slap bang in the middle of that is the BBC. Let’s fight to keep that.”

Chris Curtis, editor of Broadcast, summed up his magazine’s campaign by saying: “A politically motivated desire to cut the legs off the BBC must be resisted.” He argued that the freeze in the Licence Fee (for the past five years at £145.50 a year, or 42p a day) should be ended to save the BBC from damaging cuts to services.

Laura Mansfield, chair of the Producers Alliance for Cinema and TV, and managing director of indie producer Outline, called for the Licence Fee to be linked to inflation, while Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary of the technicians’ union BECTU, predicted that without a change in Government policy both BBC Two and the entire local radio network could be closed down.

Gail Renard, WGGB’s Westminster lobbyist (above), said: “Yes, we pay a Licence Fee, but it’s also an investment, and one that’s paying us great dividends. The BBC generates £8.3 billion a year for the country, which is twice the amount it spends. The UK currently has fewer and fewer exports, but successful BBC series like Doctor Who and Sherlock sell globally and bring in £1.3 billion a year to our economy.

“At a time when this Government is trying to build our economy, let’s not damage one of our greatest national resources. At a time when the Government is worried about British identity and British way of life and values, why are we contemplating losing our most outward visible sign to the world?”

There were also statements of support from the online petitions campaign Avaaz and the Children’s Media Foundation.

Earlier, members of the entertainment unions, including a contingent from WGGB, went into the Central Lobby to buttonhole their constituency MPs and give them the campaign message.

Photo of Gail Renard © Hazel Dunlop