WGGB is shocked and dismayed at the recent announcement by the Director-General of the BBC Tim Davie regarding the future of the BBC, which could have a hugely detrimental impact on writers, crew and cast, and audiences.
On 26 May 2022 Davie announced plans for a “digital-first BBC”, with CBBC and BBC Four ceasing to act as traditional broadcast channels and all their content moving to BBC iPlayer. Similarly, the corporation would scrap Radio 4 Extra, transferring all its programming to BBC Sounds.
The news prompted instant condemnation from union officers. WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth said: “It is disheartening to see the BBC diminished in this way. The cuts to CBBC are particularly galling as the channel is much loved by children and their parents and carers, as well as long being acknowledged as an incubator for new writing talent. The Government attacks on UK public service broadcasting threaten to diminish us culturally and economically.”
Responding to the anticipated impact that the plans would have on CBBC and children’s programming, TV Committee Chair Emma Reeves said: “This is terrible news for writers and other television workers. Public service broadcasting has a responsibility to all audiences, including those who may not have access to broadband or a wide range of devices. Of course, times and viewing habits change. But if the BBC genuinely wants young audiences to continue to enjoy positive, life-affirming live action shows with a uniquely UK flavour they will have to redouble their efforts to inform potential audiences that these shows still exist.”
WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “This announcement is extremely worrying news for writers whose rates of pay are often linked to the platforms their work is aired on. The loss of 4Extra will be a particular blow to audio writers who are already reeling from the impact of year on year cuts. WGGB is taking up the matter with the BBC and will be working with sister unions to challenge the plans.”
You can read more detail about the plans here.