VLV has conducted research which shows that the BBC’s real (inflation-adjusted) public funding for services aired for UK audiences has been slashed by 30% in the past decade. Government raids on BBC licence fee income since 2010 mean that licence fee payers are getting significantly less value for money from the TV licence since 2010.
This research comes at a time when the BBC is under mounting political pressure from the government over the licence fee. The government is currently consulting again whether to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence, having decided against it in 2015. Government sources have suggested the BBC could become a subscription service.
BBC Public Funding 2011/11-2019/20
This analysis is of net public funding for content (Licence Fee income plus government grants minus the costs of additional burdens put on the BBC since 2010); it excludes the BBC’s commercial income. The focus is on funding available for UK services because this is the content which most benefits the licence fee payers who fund the BBC.
Public funding for the BBC in 2010/11 was £3.95bn, with £3.54bn of that spent on services for UK audiences. In 2019/20 the BBC’s public funding will be £3.65bn, with £3.2bn for UK services. The BBC Annual Report will confirm the 2019/20 figures, but the BBC has said that VLV’s figures are in line with expectations. Once inflation is taken into account, 2019/20 net public funding is equivalent to £2.48bn in 2010 money – just 70% of the 2010/11 budget during a time when production and distribution costs have risen considerably.
VLV has issued a press release about this research which you can download here.
It has also prepared a briefing note on the threats the BBC faces in the coming three years which you can download here.
What can you do to make your voice heard?
We encourage you to respond to the DCMS consultation on decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee. The consultation closes at 5pm on 1 April 2020.
You can either answer an online questionnaire or send in a written submission. VLV will be making a submission in due course. You can read VLV’s submission to the 2015 consultation on the same issue here.
Write to your MP
We urge you to write to your MP and other parliamentarians to make the government aware that we value the BBC and do not want it to be ruined, either by incremental cuts or through more significant changes to its funding model. You can read more about VLV’s evaluation of the current threats to the BBC here.
The BBC is currently facing significant political pressure and a number of parliamentarians have expressed concern about briefings to the media and suggestions that the government plans to review the BBC’s funding.
VLV has long argued that the process for determining the BBC’s funding should be reformed. The current process is not subject to any public or parliamentary scrutiny. The current process is carried out behind closed doors and has led to two government raids since 2010 on licence fee income for the BBC. This has meant that we, the licence fee payers who largely fund the BBC, are getting less value for money from paying our TV licences.
Come to the VLV Conference
VLV’s Spring Conference will be held on Thursday 30th April between 10am and 4pm. It will take place at a time of huge potential disruption in public service broadcasting.
The new Government seems determined to introduce radical change at the BBC. The BBC itself is seeking a new Director-General. Ofcom has a new Chief executive and is looking for a new chairman. There is talk once more of privatising Channel 4. The Conference will consider all these issues with leading industry figures.
There has never been a more important time for VLV members to make their voices heard.