The views of 11, 583 people who responded to a public consultation on the BBC’s proposals for its future have been published by the BBC Trust.
The BBC launched its ‘British, Bold, Creative’ proposals in September 2015 and the Trust committed to asking the public for their views on the plans which outline new services and initiatives the BBC wants to bring audiences over the next 10 years.
The majority of respondents were supportive of the BBC’s future plans with strong support for the curated digital educational platform, the Ideas Service, and for a dedicated online children’s platform iPlay. However, as was clear from our previous consultation, respondents greatly value the existing services they receive and they expressed concern that the financial impact of introducing new initiatives might mean losing BBC services and programming they love.
Rona Fairhead BBC Trust Chairman said: “Over 50,000 people have responded to our two consultations and they have been clear that their future BBC must deliver the services and programmes they value, while continuing to innovate and do more to reflect the whole UK population. These findings will inform our discussions with Government and ensure the views of Licence Fee payers are heard in the Charter debate.”
So what did the consultation tell us?
Respondents want the BBC to remain a ‘something for everyone’ broadcaster and continue to appeal to the entire UK population with services and content that are accessible, interesting and relevant to all people regardless of age, location or internet access. This reinforces views the Trust heard in its first consultation where 53 per cent of the 40, 000 respondents felt the BBC should provide something for everyone with only 14 per cent saying the BBC should become a market failure model.
Greater personalisation elicited a mixed reaction with some respondents saying they would value a bespoke service while others expressed concerns that a tailoring of services would put an end to accidental discovery and diminish the shared experience of audiences.
Respondents were in strongly in favour of ending the iPlayer ‘loophole’’ which allows people to watch BBC content without having to pay for a licence fee. In the BBC’s September 2015 publication British Bold Creative, it was estimated that Licence Fee modernisation would prevent income falling by some £100 million a year by 2021-22.
The BBC in the nations
Respondents welcomed the recognition that the BBC needs to cater for specific needs in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and in the English regions. However, there was also concern about the risk of creating separate services at the expense of the BBC’s pan-UK services. Better representation of the whole UK was welcomed across both news and creative content, but respondents generally felt that this content should be made available to all audiences across the UK.
While the majority of respondents to this consultation were from England, the Trust has heard the views of audiences in the devolved nations through previous consultations, audience research and its programme of Charter Review seminars. This has informed the Trust’s position that ensuring audiences in the nations and regions of the UK are properly served by the BBC is vital, and it is important to do this at the level of UK-wide services, as well as some bespoke services in the nations.