Monday, July 20, 2015

Today's postbag

Here's a better letter, borrowed from behind the Times' paywall, and written to their editor from the BBC Charter Renewal bunker by James "Diddy Daddy" Purnell.


The BBC has not expanded “as if on steroids”, as your leader claims (“Slimming Auntie”, July 17). In the past five years, our income has fallen by 15 per cent. In the budget, we agreed our funding baseline for the next five — a further 10 per cent fall.

Nor does the BBC have “an overwhelming, and therefore troubling, market dominance”. The BBC is forecast to have just 12 per cent of TV revenues by the end of the next charter. In online news, the BBC’s share has fallen from a third to a fifth. Yes, we have created new services such as iPlayer and 6Music, but these have been mostly funded from efficiency. 

We agree with you about the need for diversity in British media. Audiences should have the choice between thriving newspapers and news from the BBC. Rather than shrinking the BBC’s website, however, we should be asking how it can help local newspapers: in particular, through linking to their sites, sharing content or paying them for reporting. 

The BBC has been slimming down and will continue to do so. Making the BBC have a core licence fee and a top-up subscription would further narrow it; we would no longer bring the country together. Audiences that wanted the same content as before would pay twice as much; those who opted out would save only 5p a day.

James Purnell Director, strategy & digital, BBC

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