The BBC is sinking and it only has itself to blame

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The BBC was at war with itself again last month, as top presenters — from Gary Lineker to Huw Edward and Faisal Islam — openly mocked new rules banning campaigning and “virtue signaling” on social media. These overpaid stars seem to want to deny there is a problem at the Beeb, but vital new research suggests the problem is not only real, but existential. 

It’s been confirmed: the end of the BBC licence fee, as it is now, is now foreseen by a strong majority Brits. It’s a normal position, not an extreme one. And, as many of us have long suspected, the Beeb is more heavily favoured by Remainers and it grates the most against the values of older, often conservative, people.

These are the results of an extensive new survey commissioned by the campaign group Defund the BBC, of which I am a member, that appears to indicate the BBC leans to the liberal-left and caters to younger, “woke” audiences, as they so-often deny. BBC TV has also been abandoned by huge sections of the population, the data shows. 

Over the course of the General Election campaign, when I was arranging the broadcast schedule for The Brexit Party, the BBC fell progressively down my list of priorities. By the end, my focus was almost entirely on getting video of our candidates on social media, in the tabloids, and on local news websites. Several people said I was crazy. One young BBC Newsnight producer even became visabally angry when I denied him an interview with Nigel Farage at a rally in Kent. But I was confident their show wouldn’t appeal to people thinking of voting for us and now, this important bit of research has backed up my intuition. 

According to the research, more that 60% of Brits believe the licence fee can’t continue as it is. And a significantly larger proportion of Remainers, 41%, than Leavers, 25%, believe it should continue as it currently is.

And can we really be surprised? The BBC began 2020 with their atrocious Brexit Night coverage, when they refused to film the stage or show a single speech, including those by Nigel Farage and the Prime Minister. And recently they ousted one of the last pro-Brexit voices on screen, Andrew Neil, before desperately trying to get him back.

Defenders of the BBC and the liberal establishment like to deny this bias. Anyone who perceives it is called extreme or even bigoted. Anyone who wants to end the BBC’s enforced monopoly is an outlier, they say. And if you say you don’t watch the BBC, sometimes they suggest you’re a liar. Well here is the evidence to the contrary. It is as clear as day. Most of us think reform of the BBC should come and there is nothing weird or wrong and campaigning to Defund the BBC.

Just last week, the Guardian made the stunning claim that “the only time the BBC’s total household reach has been measured, in 2015, 99% of households used it in just a single week.” Which is hugely misleading. This number includes everyone who might have been in the same building as someone who clicked on a link or push-notification from the BBC, or anyone inadvertently in the room when BBC radio audible. Many don’t want to consume the BBC but are forced to turn to it, on occasion, because its telly tax-funded dominance has squeezed out and even destroyed other news providers we would rather read. 

But those who have found new media sources, particularly the young who instinctively go to YouTube and Netflix, have almost completely stopped watching BBC TV. Almost one in five 18-24 year olds watch no BBC TV at all and merely 7% watch it daily. Far from being ubiquitous, as The Guardian claims, the BBC is in terminal decline if this younger generation represents the future. 

Yet, despite losing the young in their droves, the BBC is neglecting and in many cases insulting older audiences. They are churning out trendy “woke” content such as the weird and nasty podcast which called older white woman “Karens” who need to “shut up”. They are reportedly turning down hit series like All Things Great and Small because they are “too white” and they are even running expensive ads on trendy “woke” websites like VICE whilst slashing local news coverage, which so many older people rely on. 

This, I think, is why 43% say the BBC does not reflect British values and why those over the age of 55 are more than twice as likely as younger people to believe the BBC spends their cash “unreasonably”.

A few ads won’t bring back young audiences. Technology has moved on and the BBC refused to commercialise and create a subscription streaming service which has been the basis of the success experienced by Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus. And they don’t stand a chance against the user-generated content on YouTube. 

Their reliance on the Licence Fee “telly tax” has been the source of their downfall. And now, with the rise of new forms of Public Service Broadcasting — including Andrew Neil’s GB News — we can see alternatives are not just possible, but are more representative of the nation, as well as delivered free to the consumer without coercion. 

The BBC is being replaced as we speak and they are now struggling to cope with the number of people seeking to cancel their licence fee, as the Express revealed last week. More than 550 licence fees were being cancelled a day just before the pandemic. It’s time to join us and Defund The BBC. 

To support Defund the BBC you can donate to their crowdfunding page here.

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Liam Deacon is Head of Press for Defund the BBC having previously held the same position for the Brexit Party.