I have warned that Government proposals, outlined last week in the Queen’s Speech, could undermine the BBC. Speaking in the House of Commons, I accused the Government of “turning their ideological fire” on the BBC and making changes in the interests of commercial providers like Sky.
I criticised a number of the Government’s proposals for the BBC, including plans to: change their mission statement, establish a fund for which commercial rivals can bid, make Ofcom assess the market impact of “any aspect of BBC services”, and appoint as many as half of the non-executive directors to an all-powerful board. I think that these changes could damage the BBC’s capacity to compete with commercial providers in producing popular and successful programmes, as well as undermine its independence.
In the debate, I said:
What is the BBC White Paper all about? If the BBC were some colossal failure, plumbing new depths in unpopularity, there might be cause for reform, but we all know it is not such a failure. The BBC is the envy of the world. It is hugely popular in the UK, as we know from the overwhelming support it received in the Government’s own consultation.
Underlying the proposals appears to be the idea that the BBC is bad for the market, and therefore has to be reshaped in line with the views of the Murdochs, because it is too popular, too successful and too good at what it does.
What is it all about? Is it that successful public services challenge the Government’s world view that only the private sector can deliver quality, or is it just that the Government do not like the BBC?”
I have received hundreds of emails from people who support the BBC and are determined to see it protected. The Government are making needless changes to a beloved national institution for ideological purposes. They should listen to the British people and think again. I’ll continue to press this issue in Parliament.
You can watch my speech here.