Protect our BBC – for the arts and for everyone

Culture Secretary – protect our BBC, for the arts and for everyone

The UK Government has imposed deep real-terms cuts on the BBC, and has threatened to abolish its funding model entirely.

As Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries froze the licence fee below inflation until 2024, creating a hole of over £285 million in the BBC’s finances.1

In 2027, the Government has signalled that it may abolish the licence fee altogether – a move that could limit access to our national public broadcaster and diminish the range and quality of its output. Ministers have not suggested an alternative funding model.

The BBC plays a vital public service role in the arts and creative industries, but this is under threat. Earlier this year, announcing plans to disband the BBC Singers and cut English orchestral posts by 20%2, the Corporation’s Head of Orchestras and Choirs said: “This is what we can afford. We have to make some tough decisions – we can’t carry on as we are.”3

Further cuts and uncertainty over the BBC’s funding threatens to cause lasting damage to UK culture at home and abroad.

We urge the Culture Secretary to:

  • Increase and sustain the BBC’s funding, at least in line with inflation.
  • Ensure that the BBC remains publicly owned and properly funded after 2027, with a model that maintains universal access and upholds a strong commitment to public service broadcasting.

The BBC’s funding has been slashed in recent years

Since 2010, the BBC’s overall public funding has declined by 31% in real terms. 4

The BBC plays a leading role in the UK’s globally-successful creative industries

Commissioning and producing original programmes; training and employing thousands of people; developing and platforming new talent through schemes like BBC Music Introducing, Writersroom and Young Musician. The BBC is the biggest arts broadcaster in the world5, and the biggest single investor in the UK’s creative industries.6 We cannot afford to lose the benefits it brings.

The BBC’s public funding supports programmes and services with clear public benefit: 9 in 10 of us access them every week.7 No other UK broadcaster invests as much in original content, talent development and access to art and culture.

For only 44p per day, the BBC currently delivers

  • 9 national TV channels plus regional TV services
  • 56 radio stations – 10 pan-UK, 6 national and 40 local
  • the BBC website – including News, Sport, Weather, CBeebies, CBBC, Food, Bitesize, Arts
  • BBC iPlayer – thousands of live and on-demand programmes
  • BBC Sounds – a wide range of musical genres, radio stations and podcasts
  • BBC World Service – TV, radio and online
  • other apps and online services8

More than three quarters of all secondary school pupils used BBC Bitesize in 2022/23.9 The BBC’s latest strategy for Classical Music contained a powerful commitment to double funding for music education10 amid steep declines in English state schools11 and in higher education12.

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  1. The Times[]
  2. BBC strategy for Classical Music[]
  3. BBC Front Row[]
  4. Voice of the Listener and Viewer, Bulletin page 3[]
  5. Darren Henley, The Arts Dividend: Why Investment in Culture Pays, p145[]
  6. Lord Young, PoliticsHome[]
  7. BBC’s Annual Report 2022/23, page 3[]
  8. TV Licensing[]
  9. BBC’s Annual Report 2021/22, page 19[]
  10. BBC Strategy for Classical Music[]
  11. Children’s arts participation, 2009/10 to 2019/20[]
  12. Petition to reverse the 50% cut to arts subjects in Higher Education[]