Thank you to all those who have copied me in to their submissions to the BBC Charter renewal consultation, which runs to October 8 2015.
The BBC is the cornerstone of the UK’s creative industries and one of our greatest cultural institutions. I support its impartiality and believe in a BBC that provides something for everybody. I also believe the licence fee should be maintained.
I previously ran a campaign to save BBC Radio Merseyside when the station was at risk.
Changes are needed to the way the BBC is governed and, like all large organisations, it benefits from regularly considering its shape, size and functions. I want the BBC to continue to contribute to our cultural life while delivering value for money.
I am concerned that the current government intends to go to war with the BBC. For instance, the government has already confirmed that the BBC will take on the cost of free TV licences for over-75s, potentially leading to cuts in jobs, services and quality.
These changes were agreed without consultation while the advisory panel appointed by the government for the duration of the charter review process is made up of a number of people with direct financial interests in the BBC’s commercial competitors.
During the last Parliament, as Chair of the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale called for the BBC to reduce provision in areas where the market could offer those services and he has spoken more recently of the need for the BBC to make it easier for commercial competitors to win audience share.
I am concerned he believes the BBC should not be producing popular entertainment like ‘Strictly’ but should only provide what the market would fail to deliver. This would lead to a system where some of the most popular BBC services were at risk.
It is important that the BBC and government pays close attention to the points raised by members of the public participating in the present consultation.
If it does, then I believe that the government will recognise that the BBC delivers high-quality services and programmes for everyone in the country that must be adequately funded to continue as a major source of information, education and entertainment. It is particularly important in the role it plays for emerging musical talent in this country.
I will strongly oppose any attempts by the government to undermine or diminish the BBC.
If you would like to take part in the government’s consultation before it closes on October 8, then please click here.