The public believes the government has already decided on the outcome of its consultation into the future of the BBC’s licence fee, days before it closes for representations.
The poll – conducted by Survation and commissioned by public ownership campaign group We Own It – found that 53% of people believe ‘the government has already decided the outcome of the consultation’. By contrast, just 25% of respondents stated they believe the government has not decided the outcome.
More than a thousand people were surveyed at the end of February about the consultation, with 53% agreeing that the government had already decided the outcome, compared to just 25% who did not believe they had.
Earlier this year, the Sunday Times reported that a senior aide to the government had stated that the government plans to ‘whack’ the BBC, scrap the licence fee and turn it into a subscription based service . The same report also suggested the government plans to force the BBC to sell off significant portions of its current outputs, including the overwhelming majority of its radio stations.
The poll also comes after the BBC has made major changes to its outputs in response to the coronavirus crisis. It has significantly expanded the BBC Bitesize education programmes while children are not at school, broadcasted exercise classes for older people, and connected people to mutual aid groups in their local communities.
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The BBC’s news outlets reported a massive spike in viewers, listeners and readers since the crisis began, with page views online doubling in just seven days.
‘The last few weeks have shown us just how much we rely on an innovative, reliable and not for profit public service broadcaster that works to give everyone in the country the information, education and entertainment we need, at the times we need them most,’ said Pascale Robinson, Campaigns Officer at We Own It.
‘So it’s utterly staggering that the government is continuing to run its rash, poorly thought through consultation into the future of the BBC licence fee at this time. With the public overwhelmingly of the view that the government has already made up its mind on the outcome of the consultation, and the shocking reports that the government plans to ‘whack’ it, it’s time they called off the dogs and put an end to their attacks.
‘If we lose the BBC, we’ll be left with nothing but Facebook and a Fox News style media. So at this difficult time, more than ever, the government should be supporting the BBC for its future, not trying to undermine it.’
Campaign group We Own It has been asking the public to respond to the consultation with a template response on its website. The response argues ‘until the government can assure us that the BBC’s funding is guaranteed, no change to the funding model should be made.’