NUJ dismisses former culture secretary John Whittingdale’s attack on the BBC
The ex-minister has proposed the corporation is stripped back to providing news and children’s programmes.
The National Union of Journalists has dismissed as “extremely dangerous” a suggestion by former culture secretary John Whittingdale that the BBC licence fee should be abolished, and the corporation be funded for providing a core news service.
In comments made to The i, John Whittingdale, now a backbencher, said the rollout of superfast broadband would ultimately allow viewers to “switch off” the BBC and pay only for programmes they wanted to view. He said that a core BBC, delivering public service broadcasting including news and children’s programming, could be funded by the taxpayer with viewers paying a Netflix-style subscription for additional content.
Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary said the proposals would have profound implications for public service broadcasting and for employment in the BBC. He said:
“The world class service provided by the BBC is threatened yet again by new attempts to limit funding. John Whittingdale’s kite flying proposals display a narrow vision of public service broadcasting, with no regard for the BBC’s vital role in providing quality sports and entertainment across a variety of genres.
“He suggests that a grant would fund news, current affairs and arts programmes. This is such a limited view of public service broadcasting that it beggars belief. To place funding for so much important programming at the mercy of a voluntary subscription system would be a dangerous step which would add perpetual uncertainty to the future of the BBC. A Netflix style subscription model would undermine public service broadcasting in the UK and would not be good for consumers or the UK’s creative industry which is in large part driven by the corporation.
“The NUJ will be seeking assurances that ministers do not share the sentiments of these extremely dangerous proposals.”
As the BBC waits for the announcement on the new licence fee deal. John Whittingdale said: “Nadine [Dorries, Culture Secretary] is unlikely to be generous given the cost of living squeeze facing all households.”