‘Alternative White Paper is important voice’

Shadow Culture Secretary Maria Eagle MP highlights the significance of the Federation of Entertainment Unions' Alternative White Paper on the future of the BBC at Parliamentary launch
Alternative White Paper on the BBC

The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU), of which WGGB is part, launched its Alternative White Paper on the future of the BBC in Parliament today (Tuesday 15 March 2016).

Over 100 union members, many of whom work for the BBC, turned up to lobby MPs and Lords and ask that they consider the recommendations made in the FEU paper.

The FEU Alternative White Paper calls for the BBC to:

• renegotiate its agreement to fund free TV licences for the over-75s, which could mean a loss of 20% of its budget;

• be independent of Government interference, by extending the charter period to 11 years to take it out of the political cycle;

• have a governance structure which is not filled with Government appointees and includes representatives of its staff and Licence Fee payers;

• continue to be a universal broadcaster, making a full range of popular drama and entertainment programmes;

• provide news free of bias and maintain standards of accuracy and integrity in its journalism.

Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport addressed the event. She expressed regret over the fact that the BBC had agreed to pay Licence Fees for the over-75s and added: “The people of this country appreciate the BBC and want to keep it doing what it is doing. What it is not, is a state broadcaster in the pocket of the Government of the day. It is wrong that the BBC should be used as a political football and its independence has to be protected by politicians. This Alternative White Paper is an important voice that should be taken into account when the Government produces its White Paper.”

Other speakers included Damian Green MP (Chair of the BBC All-Party Parliamentary Group), Lord Fowler and Hywel Williams MP.

Writing in the Alternative White Paper, BAFTA-winning television writer and playwright Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax), commented: “The BBC is so vital for communication and creativity, no one else comes close to achieving what they produce so comprehensively. The Licence Fee is extraordinarily good value for money and the Government needs to notice that.”

Actor Idris Elba added his backing: “The BBC continues to support established actors, writers, directors and all members of our profession, whilst investing in and growing the new talent that represents the future of our industry, The BBC needs to remain – and as it is.”

While David Yates, the director of Harry Potter, commented: “The BBC inspires, informs, provokes, and entertains, not for profit but to enrich and deepen our appreciation and understanding of the world. We should cherish and celebrate all that it stands for.”

The FEU comprises Equity, the Musicians’ Union, BECTU, the National Union of Journalists, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the Professional Footballers’ Association and Unite.

Read the FEU’s Alternative White Paper.

Find out more about the FEU BBC Love It Or Lose It campaign.