As expected, the BBC’s proposed cuts are provoking debate.
There are letters to newspapers about the plans to move BBC Four and CBBC online. There has been something of an outpouring of love for CBBC online too – though, sadly, too much of that is for its past rather than present.
Naturally there have been concerns expressed for local news coverage in Oxford and Cambridge where sub-opt bulletins are set to end.
Even the proposal to close Radio 4 LW has met resistance even though this has seemed inevitable for some time and was first proposed nearly 30 years ago.
It’s natural any proposals like these should generate a reaction. It remains to be seen which of these reactions may be more than flashes in the pan or if any organised campaigns emerge.
Difficult choices will have to be made and, as I’ve already argued, it would not be a shock if some proposals are modified, dropped completely or kicked into the long grass.
The financial realities facing the BBC are very real though. If one cut is scrapped or modified, another saving will have to be found. My own view is that clean cuts are better than seeing services suffer a death by a thousand cuts.
But are some “stealth cuts” and efficiencies the public might not notice still possible?
The BBC is not, in general, an inefficient organisation, though a good manager can often find ways of improving efficiency and productivity. Technology can make a big difference too – can more journalists shoot and edit more of their material just as the threatened Oxford team have done for 20 years?
The proposal to move CBBC online seems to be attracting the most resistance. Again this is little surprise.
There’s a particular argument to be made that disadvantaged children could lose out. Even if they do not watch CBBC, there is the principle of ensuring content is available as widely as possible and that it is free at the point of use.
So if a medium-term threat to CBBC, an archive channel and a legacy service can provoke this debate can you imagine if there was any live threat to BBC One, Two or the main radio networks?
This should be a reminder to politicians and ideologically driven critics of just what BBC programmes and services mean to many people.
The apparent public indifference to the privatisation of Channel 4 despite hostile industry reaction may have lulled some into the false belief that the BBC could be next in line for a fundamental overhaul.
A civil servant might describe any move on the Beeb to a government minister as a “brave decision”.
Meanwhile will CBBC programmes on linear TV, BBC Four and other threatened services gain some sort of reprieve?
PICTURED: BBC Broadcasting House, London. COPYRIGHT: The TV Room.
Leave a Reply