The BBC is dying and it needs our funds now! – Liberal Article
For me, the BBC is by far the most important British institution. It has been dominating British TV for most of the 20th century, providing us with factual unbiased news and quality entertainment. Although many do disagree about the BBC being unbiased; all I seem to hear is the left saying it’s too right and the right saying it’s too left. Surely then it must be doing something right?
However, my focus is more on the entertainment it produces. Today, Netflix and Amazon dominate what television has become; streaming. Netflix and Amazon produce truly breath-taking TV while still being cheaper than the UK’s TV license. Add to this YouTube, that supplies hours of entertainment for free, it is no wonder most people are turning their back on the BBC.
This has led to the question: do we need the BBC to produce entertainment?
Just so you know, the best option for essentially ‘privatising the BBC’, is to set up a ‘contested fund’ which pays entertainment companies when they do the job the BBC does; build entertainment for all, that is diverse and, most importantly, hires UK actors and production companies.
Although some suggest this is a fantastic idea, to me it could not be more horrifying.
Firstly we would see British culture die overnight. The entire entertainment industry in the UK would become unemployed overnight.
This is because Netflix and Amazon’s shows are produced in the US, not the UK. Add to this the huge hit during the Covid period, as well as Brexit causing production problems with no possible way of getting visas for actors and production equipment, the UK culture sector would be dead. Even if Netflix and Amazon actually invested in UK shows, this could be a reduction of up to 50%. Personally, I think that is argument enough for why we desperately need the BBC entertainment service.
However, the other reason is that it produces entertainment for the older generations. For me and my peers, we can easily learn and use Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. We grew up with it and its entertainment is produced with us in mind.
Streaming services are not what the older generation want to use and watch. Their only source of entertainment is the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Without it, there would be no television for them. I don’t trust private companies to produce TV that is essentially watched by thousands, not millions. Netflix already cancels most of their shows after two series because they are too expensive even if they have millions of viewers.
We also have started to see the impact of Brexit occurring. The other day, a European production company trying to find a child actor to play Prince William, alongside Kristen Stewart playing his mother Princess Diana, had to have a European passport. This is because the UK still hasn’t managed to sort out visas for actors.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, the BBC actually has regulations on what it can and cannot show. YouTube is the best example of being the exact opposite of the BBC in terms of having no regulation.
Now YouTube has its benefits, don’t get me wrong. I still remember the days of watching KSI with my mates and praying to pack ‘Hazard’. However, because there is no regulation, we are seeing a wave of fake news and far-right media content being produced.
Look at PewDiePie, a gamer who paid people on Fiverr to hold up signs saying ‘Death to all Jews’. YouTube is repacking anti-semitism as funny, ironic and indie humour, and is influencing mainly young people to believe the wrong things. No wonder PewDiePie is a hero for the far right at the moment (although he still claims otherwise).
And this is my point. The BBC, Channel 4 and ITV single-handedly maintain British culture. Whether it is Mock the Week, Peep Show, Monty Python, Have I Got News For You; whatever entertains you, whatever the next amazing comedy duo there is, the BBC will push them forward. Whether it is also preventing hatred being spread, they’ll be there as well. TV licenses and public service broadcasting does so much we take for granted.
At the moment, it is being left to die with poor funding, criticism and with Netflix, Amazon and Youtube producing unregulated content. We really need to wake up before it’s too late and the best British institution that all of us should be proud of, is lost.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
Point of Information
TV and entertainment has evolved, and the BBC must evolve with it – A Conservative Response
TV and entertainment in the 21st century have changed. My colleague points this out, with Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and more. You can watch what you want, where you want, for a cheap price. The BBC’s license fee model is obsolete, a subscription-based model is now becoming the norm.
The BBC has already shown a willingness to go down this path with the launch of Britbox. This is their version of Netflix, a streaming site where British culture entertainment like Blackadder, Porridge, Fawlty Towers and many more are. In fact, it seems to be the place where British Culture shows will be continually developed, with the latest revival of Spitting Image, a political satire program that was originally started in the 80s.
Other ‘original’ series are sure to be added to Britbox, as that is what drove Netflix to success. Whether they derive from existing British culture or help to develop a different one remains to be seen. But culture is not a static thing.
Our culture won’t be lost. Netflix has an original series about the British monarchy called The Crown, created by British screenwriter Peter Morgan, starring British actors. I’m sure there will be more culture shows on this platform.
Fake news from whatever source it originates from is dangerous. But I think this stems from the fact that many of these new technologies are, well, new. The regulation to prevent hate speech hasn’t caught up with them yet. You can see the beginnings of this now in the US Congress, where the role of ‘Big tech’ is being questioned.
Netflix and Amazon don’t produce unregulated content in the same way as YouTube, as it is not a platform accessible by anyone. However, they shouldn’t be ignored. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, recently asked Netflix to make the distinction clearer between documentary and fiction, especially in relation to The Crown.
Streaming is the future of television. If the BBC tries to deny this reality, it will go the same way that many shops are ending up now because they didn’t invest in online shopping. It must adapt.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
More funds vs more views; one big oxymoron – A Labour Response
Max is right; the BBC is important for entertainment in the UK. I can agree that it is pertinent for British culture, and its rather easy access makes it arguably better than streaming services. However, this is not to neglect just how fast other entertainment providers are growing – they are very likely to take its place in the entertainment world if they haven’t done so already.
Living in a student house especially, it has become crystal clear that the BBC holds much less importance with the younger generation. If we were to watch something, chances are we would browse Netflix or Amazon Prime long before we even thought to look at the BBC.
So perhaps the BBC could do with some reinventing to make sure it stays in the competition. Then again, how can they compete with these growing powerhouses without changing their entire platform? I don’t envy whoever has to make these changes.
I think one main problem with the BBC is the TV license fee. At the moment, it stands at £157.50 for a colour license for one year. This seems extortionate compared to charges for services like Netflix. If you opened a basic Netflix account it would cost you about £71 a year. This is still a large amount to pay to watch Friends on repeat but it seems a lot more reasonable than the TV license fee.
And of course, there was a whole debate just last year surrounding free TV licenses for over-75s; a debate that to me seemed toxic because TV is an essential to many people, not only those over a certain age.
So I would ask Max what he would propose to do about TV licenses. Maybe the BBC would gain some more weight in the entertainment world if it reduced its fees, but surely this would go against Max’s sentiment that the BBC “needs our funds now”. In fact, this whole debate seems like one big oxymoron – if you solve one problem, you’d still be left with another.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo