Professor of Journalism at Cardiff University, Professor Richard Tait, spoke to Express.co.uk about the survival of the BBC and what the broadcaster needed to do to survive. Following announcements the licence fee will be frozen for two years, debates have been resurrected over whether the licence fee should remain with some arguing a public-funded broadcaster was no longer required in the UK. Professor Tait pushed back against those arguments and suggested the BBC provided services no other commercial broadcaster would ever consider but if it wanted to survive and continue those services it needed to “double down” on things the mass audience loved.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Professor Tait was asked how does the BBC remain relevant and survive following calls to abolish the licence fee.
He explained: “I think the BBC has to double down on the things it does which are distinctive, and that includes Strictly Come Dancing and Match of the Day and EastEnders and the things which the mass audiences love.
“So it has to double down on that, it also has to continue to do things which no commercial organisation would do.
“No commercial organisation would run a network of local radio stations, speech-based local radio stations, as the BBC does.
“No commercial organisation would run programming in Welsh and most commercial organisations are now finding it very difficult to justify having big production centres all around the country.”
Professor Tait added the hyper-local BBC outlets will cost a lot of money but it will help paint the BBC as a “good citizen” which is providing something greater than a news or entertainment service.
He explained: “The trick they’ve got to find is they’ve got to continue to do the really fabulous mass material which people love.
“But they’ve also got to remain, if you’re like, a good citizen and trying to bring public value to what they do.
“Rather than end up just saying, Well, we’re going to cut everything because not many people watch those sorts of documentaries.
“Not many people like that sort of music, we don’t care about local news anymore.
“If they do that, I think they’re doomed.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced a freeze on the BBC licence fee for the next two years which is reportedly part of the so-called “Operation Red Meat” to win over supporters to the Conservatives.
The fee will be fixed until April 2024 and then will rise with inflation for the following four years.
This will continue until the end of the current Royal Charter on December 31, 2027.
Chair of the Danish Journalists’ Association, Tine Johanson, told Express.co.uk that Denmark has now adopted a taxation system that is much fairer than the media licence they had to pay for.
Ms Johanson explained while the main Danish broadcaster, DR, has seen hundreds of jobs cut due to the transition, the system is considered to be a good alternative to licence fees.
However, she warns that the taxation system is at risk of politicisation as she fears the new system requires the taxation funds to be earmarked for media broadcasters otherwise it could be dipped into for other services.