The BBC is one of the nation’s most important institutions which is recognised internationally as a maker of high quality content. Ten years ago, the last time the Government ran a Charter Review, the media landscape looked very different. The BBC has adapted to this changing landscape, and remains much-loved by audiences.
However, hard questions must be asked during this Charter Review. This should include questions about what the BBC should be trying to achieve in an age where consumer choice is now far more extensive than it has been, what its scale and scope should be in the light of those aims, how far it affects others in television, radio and online, and what the right structures are for its governance and regulation. Today, for example, 62 per cent of all programmes accessed online are watched using the BBC’s iPlayer, a significant change from a decade ago.
The BBC is a national institution, paid for by the public. It will have spent more than £30 billion of public money over the current Charter period. It is therefore right that questions should be asked as to how that money is provided, and indeed spent.
The Government undertook a consultation, marking the start of the Charter Review process, which gave people the opportunity to have their say on various aspects of the BBC. The Consultation closed in October with over 190,000 people having responded, the second largest response to any Government consultation. The Government is now in the process of reading and analysing this data.
With regard to the comments made by the Secretary of State, a significant number of the responses were generated by 38 Degrees. That does not mean that they are not valid expressions of opinion, it just means that perhaps they are not wholly representative of public opinion at large. However, the Government is committed to reading and analysing every response.