VLV submits evidence to Lords Communications Committee
The VLV has submitted evidence to the Lords Communications Committee Inquiry into BBC Charter Review.
Under the current Charter delivery of the six Public Purposes is central to any assessment of the BBC’s performance. As an organisation which represents the interests of listeners and viewers we believe that licence fee payers concerns should play an important role in deciding what the purposes of the BBC should be.
VLV believes that the Public Purposes are relevant today and are central to any assessment of the BBC’s performance. Along with their accompanying purpose remits and when taken together with the Service Licences, they provide a detailed articulation of what the BBC should do to fulfil its mission.
VLV does not consider there is evidence to suggest that the BBC’s scale and scope are limiting the development of a successful broadcast market.
VLV does not agree with the suggestion in the DCMS Green Paper that audiences might be better served by a more narrowly-focused BBC. If this happens, the BBC will be restricted mostly to broadcast ‘worthy’, less popular content and its popularity will decline, making a universal fee unsustainable; and this in turn would undermine the model upon which the BBC is based.
The VLV has been impressed with the achievements of the BBC Trust in engaging with licence fee payers and industry but believes the BBC’s governance model needs to be reformed.
VLV strongly opposes the process of negotiating the recent licence fee settlement of July 2015 and that of December 2010 which were both conducted hastily without any public or Parliamentary scrutiny. Both settlements have diverted money from BBC budgets, have undermined the BBC’s independence from government and compromised its ability to deliver its mission.
Whatever the outcome of this Charter Review, VLV urges that there should be no more top slicing of the licence fee during this Charter Review period and VLV would like the commitments made in the 2010 settlement reversed.
VLV wants the BBC to remain independent of Government control. Currently we believe that through the setting of the licence fee especially, the Government has undue political influence on the BBC’s delivery of its mission.
VLV therefore proposes that the current system for setting the licence fee should be completely changed with the institution of a statutory body, the Licence Fee Body, to determine the level of licence fee settlements. This would provide protection to the BBC from the Government ‘top slicing’ the licence fee and diverting it to fund other projects.
VLV members support public funding as the primary source of income for the BBC. In the coming Charter period we would suggest that the current system should remain in place for collecting the licence fee but it should be modernised to include catch up TV.
VLV would welcome further study of the option of the household fee as a model to fund the BBC. VLV believes that the BBC should not follow an advertising model because this would have a negative market impact on other advertising funded broadcasters and advertising impairs the experience of some viewers and listeners. We also oppose subscription as a model for funding the BBC because once the BBC loses its universality, its income will be dependent on the popularity of content and this will be a precursor to a decline in less profitable genres which are nevertheless important for delivering the BBC’s public purposes. VLV believes that any model of funding needs to be universal because this is the only way to keep down the cost of individual licences and ensure that the system is equitable.
VLV opposes funding through general taxation which would reduce the BBC’s independence from the government and believes that the BBC’s funding should not be associated with any government spending review or budget as it has been since 2010.
VLV opposes the use of licence fee income on any services where are not provided by the BBC.