The BBC faces a fight for its life after the publication of a Government green paper on 16 July 2015 marking out the territory for a debate on the next Royal Charter, due to take effect at the beginning of 2017. WGGB has joined sister unions and many other organisations and individuals in expressing extreme concern.
General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: “The green paper is a thinly disguised plan to reduce the BBC to something akin to American public service broadcasting – a worthy but penurious good deed in a media world dominated by gigantic global corporations. It is instructive to reflect that American PSB gets much of its best drama and documentaries from… the BBC!
“The prospect is of a BBC that informs us more sketchily, educates us more conventionally, and entertains us less and less. Thousands of writers, actors, musicians and technicians will lose their careers as the biggest single contributor to the worldwide success of UK culture gradually shuts up shop.
“The Government’s approach is bad for viewers and listeners, bad for creators, bad for Britain – but great news for Rupert Murdoch, Viscount Rothermere, Fox-Sky, Time Warner, Liberty Media, Comcast, Amazon and the rest of them.”
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has launched its consultation on the future of the BBC and the closing date for reponses is Thursday 8 October 2015. You can submit your views here.
Equity, the actors’ union, called the green paper “a stitch-up”, adding: “The UK’s viewing and listening public are in danger of sleep-walking into a world where the BBC is no more. When they wake up to the fact that the very survival of much-loved programmes such as EastEnders, Strictly, The Archers, Bake Off, are in question, the Government will be overwhelmed by a storm of protest.”
Pressure group Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) said: ”The BBC is not owned by its staff or by politicians, it is owned by the public because they pay the Licence Fee. VLV believes that the BBC should provide something for everyone because we all pay for it. We will be fighting for this to remain the case.”
The Media Reform Coalition asked: “Why should we measure the BBC simply in terms of its wider impact on the marketplace? Do we judge the NHS on the basis of whether it makes life difficult for Bupa or do we welcome its status as an institution that treats everyone irrespective of background or income?”
Online campaigning group 38 Degrees set up a petition calling for an independently funded BBC, free from political interference, with resources to provide high-quality and varied content. It gathered over 150,000 signatures in its first 24 hours and you can sign it here.
Meanwhile WGGB has joined with other affiliates in the Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) – including Equity, Musicians’ Union, NUJ and Bectu – in seeking a meeting with BBC Director General Tony Hall over the behind-closed-doors negotiation of a five-year Licence-Fee settlement without any public consultation.
You can find out more about the FEU BBC Love It Or Lose It campaign here.