Can the BBC survive by opening up?

The BBC was the first port of call for news and entertainment from 1922 to 1992 (The Guardian view on the BBC: tough times ahead, 18 September). It failed to see the multi-channel environment heralded first by Sky. And though it was the model for the establishment of NHK in Japan, it failed to notice that this public broadcaster had moved from a BBC One and BBC Two offering – NHK1 and NHK2 – to additional offerings with two satellite channels. The BBC just continued to live off its licence fee without understanding the new ecology.

Now we are in the streaming environment, where again the BBC was late to the dancefloor, allowing Apple, Amazon Prime and YouTube to take the space. If it was supposed to be our centre of excellence for broadcasting, it has singularly failed. Why is it not possible to open areas of it up to independent production companies and not-for-profit players, by giving them the right to bid for, say, all of the drama or sport? The public’s money would not only be spent better, but opening up the BBC would also enhance its offering.

The BBC has not come forward with any plans as to how it will survive when in 2030 there is no licence fee. To wait that long is frankly for the birds. We need a halfway house and it should start tomorrow.
Derek Wyatt
Ex-MP and former member of the culture, media and sport committee

Why don’t those criticising BBC salaries (Letters, 17 September) produce comparative figures for other channels? I’d take a punt that Sky’s newsreaders, for example, are paid vastly more than the BBC’s, and history shows that entertainers such as Chris Evans can always go elsewhere when there’s a higher bidder. The BBC is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. If it concentrates on minority or limited-audience programmes (BBC Four, Radio 3), it’s criticised for wasting licence-payers’ money; if it pays big bucks to popular entertainers, it’s told off for profligacy. Cancelling free licences for over-75s was a despicable decision by a government that hates an independent broadcaster.

Anyone concerned about over-75s’ licences should lobby MPs to increase the licence fee by a few pounds so that those of us who do pay can subsidise those who can’t afford to, rather than condemning the BBC for a decision it was forced by the government to take.
Don Keller
Harringay, London

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