04 December 2011
Posted in General
It was the BBC that inspired much of the imagery of George Orwell’s 1984, and true to type Delivering Quality First (DQF) is the Orwellian slogan given to the BBC’s current proposals for 20 per cent cuts over the next six years
The BBC Trust is conducting a public consultation on the plans that is open until Wednesday 21 December 2011. The Writers’ Guild will be submitting its own response, and we urge as many individual members as possible to do the same.
There are many points among the DQF proposals that will alarm both writers who work for the BBC and the general viewing and listening public. These include:
- BBC2 is promised more drama, but this is entirely at the expense of BBC4 – as BBC2 commissions are more expensive, does this mask a further decline in original TV drama?
- There will be significant cuts in radio commissioning – comedy on R2 and R5 Live, new material for R4 Extra – and although Radio 4 has its budget preserved, there is no guarantee that drama cuts are at an end – compare the recent slashing of short stories in favour of yet more news.
- Another 2,000 job cuts – on top of 7,000 already gone since 2004 – will further weaken the BBC’s ability to produce top-quality in-house drama.
- Despite many informal promises, there is no mention of drama repeats replacing the axed daytime shows on BBC2.
- After spending millions expanding to Salford and shifting productions to Bristol and Cardiff, the BBC is now planning to move a range of programming out of Birmingham. What kind of game is being played here?
The fundamental problem is the unnecessary freeze in the licence fee until 2017. It has gone up only £10 since 2007 and now costs just over £12 a month for the whole range of BBC services – compared to more than £60 for some subscription services.
In our motion at the TUC conference in September the Writers’ Guild called on the Government to unfreeze the licence fee – a call that is now being echoed loudly by many campaigners.
The entertainment unions – Equity, Musicians, BECTU and NUJ – have launched a postcard campaign, 'I Love Our BBC' aimed at deluging BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten with messages calling for a licence fee review. You can download the card (pdf) or contact the Guild office for supplies. A copy will be enclosed with your next copy of UK Writer, but we urge you to act now, as the mailing may not arrive until after the 21 December deadline.
You can access the full DQF document by clicking on this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/dqf/dqf.pdf. The final 3 pages of the 55 page document allow for your response. You can also do this by writing to:BBC Trust, 180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ
Or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can make a detailed response to the consultation at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consult/delivering_quality_first.shtml.
Please let the Guild office know how you have responded, so that we can incorporate your ideas in our union response. Send them to:email@example.com.