As if the BBC’s money worries weren’t bad enough, Monday brought a bitter blow.
It looks like the government will abandon an understanding that the licence fee will go up in line with inflation next year.
If this happens, there will be more unpleasant decisions on programmes and services.
There is simply no way that the BBC could deal with another real terms cut by looking at overheads, efficiencies or a few niche services.
It would almost certainly mean more cuts which people would actually notice.
It’s time for those of us who care about the BBC to make it clear that we would be prepared to pay for an inflationary rise in the TV licence.
The only people who want the BBC seriously reduced in scale and scope are the people who oppose it on ideological or dogmatic grounds.
Beware those who hide behind anodyne arguments about helping hard-pressed family budgets. This is the government which abolished free TV licences for the over-75s.
Freelancers in the TV industry have suffered from a commissioning downturn – a further squeeze on the BBC will only make things worse.
More importantly for the public, it is bound to lead to fewer programmes of quality and ambition.
And yet on this day of bad news for the BBC came a little light.
People who do not watch or understand mainstream TV (including many politicians) can often struggle to understand the subtleties which can give the BBC’s form of popular TV a distinctive flavour.
A lovely example is the daytime show Morning Live.
It started quietly during lockdown and is of little corporate importance.
But it has been a slow burning success with the daytime audience even though it has had little publicity. It often gets significantly more viewers than Lorraine and This Morning on ITV 1 though you would never know it from the tabloids and celebrity mags.
Most of the content can hardly be called innovative but it has a genuine warmth and sincerity while occasionally the content takes an unexpected turn.
It’s a quality daytime magazine, quietly created, in the best traditions of Pebble Mill at One, Afternoon Plus and, yes, This Morning before it became celebrity obsessed.
Today came the welcome news it will be extended by half an hour in January.
Together with the extension of Breakfast to 9.30am, it will give BBC One’s morning schedule a greater focus on live output.
In an organisation which relies on news and world-beating output for its reputation, programmes like Morning Live are easy to overlook. But it’s an example of how a good broadcaster can seek quality in all genres.
What might have to go if income continues to be squeezed?
PICTURED: BBC Broadcasting House, London. COPYRIGHT: BBC.