Older people notice long term trends and they appreciate national treasures. The BBC is one.
Many live alone, some continuously glued to the radio that keeps them interested and alert. Television provides much needed company for those unable to get out; they look forward to their favourite programmes. These give pleasure and simulate social involvement. But will the quality and choice be maintained if BBC funding is squeezed?
Commercial sponsorship does not guarantee quality programmes. We need only look to the United States to anticipate what we would get without a well-funded independent broadcasting service. For instance, would we welcome frequent mini-adverts interrupting play during tennis matches?
It is not just older people who are concerned. Was the recent deal between Minsters and the BBC director general triggered by the ‘Save the BBC’ Facebook page and the on-line petition put out by 38 Degrees? 29,000 signed against cuts to BBC funding, and 10,000 signed that they stood up for a strong, vibrant, publicly funded BBC, that should not be undermined. Their three claims were to protect the BBC’s funding, to help the BBC develop by putting value for money and quality before commercial interests, and to ensure the BBC’s independence.
The deal, though inadequate, does includes permission to charge broadband users who watch and listen to BBC programmes. If it is practicable to make charges the BBC could recoup lost TV licence revenue. The Charter agreement may allow the licence fee to rise with inflation using the flawed Consumer Price Index (CPI) after 2016.
I would recommend that the licence fee, frozen in 2010 at £145.50, is raised immediately. When you consider that the fee represents less than 40p per day, much less than a newspaper, the freeze was unreasonable and has already led to cuts in BBC funding. A leading drama executive has walked away and 1,000 jobs are at risk.
Older people want the BBC to be better funded, but those over 75 are exempt from paying the fee. As part of the deal the BBC has agreed to bear the cost of this concession, equivalent to one fifth of its budget. We object to that! This concession should be funded through taxation, not at the expense of fellow viewers, further depleting BBC funds.
What is the use of a free TV licence when there is nothing worth hearing on radio or watching on TV? It is like giving rural pensioners a bus pass without providing a bus service!
The deal is flawed and cannot guarantee the maintenance of a good quality broadcasting service. We would argue that the service is public and should receive public support raised from taxation. Don’t let it wither away from lack of funds!
by Janet Shapiro