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Future of the BBC — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:04 pm on 14th July 2015.

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Photo of Viscount Colville of Culross Viscount Colville of Culross Crossbench 8:04 pm, 14th July 2015

My Lords, I am very proud to be a producer at the BBC. I work there because I passionately believe in public service broadcasting. It makes our country a better place—better educated, better informed and with a better understanding of the great political issues that we face. Your Lordships have only to look at America, where there is a very weak public service broadcasting component in television and politics is covered in terms of the drama between the personalities, not the issues. Yet we want to make the BBC smaller. Some 1,000 jobs went last month, and I am told that hundreds more programme-makers will go in the next few months in the run-up to the launch of BBC Studios.

It will also get even smaller. The £750 million that the BBC will have to take on in 2021 will not be cash-flat, as the director-general said. Apparently, the extra money will come from £100 million from the iPlayer licence, but I wonder if that is so, with a generation so good at file-sharing. It is hoped that £100 million will be raised voluntarily from the over-75s. That may be, although it would be very generous, and then, of course, £350 million will come from increasing the licence fee by CPI. However, we know that that will be subject to very harsh negotiations. I fear that this great British institution is threatened as never before, and I am afraid that the vacuum we leave will not be filled with news, information and education.