The debate over whether to save or change the BBC has so far been limited to politicians and programme-makers, but Radio Times wants to make sure that the voice of the viewers is heard.
In the 1st August issue of RadioTimes we launched a extensive survey to ask readers your views on the future of the BBC. It echoed the questions raised in the Government’s public consultation on the corporation, so we can ensure your views shape the debate. Nearly 9,000 of you responded, including 3,000 who sent back their meticulously compiled questionnaires through the post, putting a heavy strain on the RT mailroom!
Our data-crunchers have worked around the clock to analyse your responses. Here are the results: RT readers back the BBC as a bastion of quality broadcasting.
A staggering 96 per cent of you support the principle of a publicly funded broadcaster, with 91 per cent saying that the licence fee is the best way of funnelling public cash to the corporation.
Huge numbers say that the BBC provides high-quality programming that is distinctive from other broadcasters and, as a result, the vast majority of you – regardless of your age – would even be happy to forgo a free licence when you’re 75 rather than see the BBC lose out.
Three out of four of you say that the BBC should not have its services cut back, even if it means a cheaper licence fee. As for the Government’s suggestion that a portion of licence-fee income should go to other broadcasters to make public-service news or children’s programming, 80 per cent of you disagree.
But it’s not a blank cheque of unwavering support for the Corporation, and we’ve had some passionate views, powerfully expressed. You’re not sure whether the BBC should do as many shiny-floor entertainment shows as it does now, and many of you would like it to avoid high-profile scheduling clashes, such as putting Strictly Come Dancing up against ITV’s The X Factor.
Whether the BBC needs three mainstream popular music stations – Radios 1, 2 and 6 Music – is also a subject of discussion. But on the big questions, the corporation has massive support.
In a message to RT readers, BBC director-general Tony Hall says, “It’s great to hear that readers of Radio Times so emphatically endorse and back the BBC. That backing rests on the quality and breadth of what we do. I want to thank every reader who responded.”
As we promised when we launched the survey, RT will pass on all your responses to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A DCMS spokesperson tells RT: “The BBC is one of this nation’s most treasured institutions, playing a role in almost all our lives. We are committed to a thorough and open Charter Review, and want to hear everyone’s views. We welcome the contribution from Radio Times readers.”
The consultation ends on 8 October, but it will be weeks before we know whether they’ve been listening.
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David Attenborough will be at the Radio Times Festival, taking us from the poles to the tropics as part of a sweeping tour of his six decades in broadcasting. The only man to have won Baftas for programmes made in black and white, colour, HD and 3D, Sir David will also become the inaugural member of the Radio Times Hall of Fame.