Future of BBC in spotlight as ex-executives lead lively Goldsmiths debate

From left to right: Pat Younge, Sian Kevill, Mike Flood Page. Credit: Zak Thomas.

From left to right: Pat Younge, Sian Kevill and Mike Flood Page Pic: Zak Thomas.

Three former senior BBC employees launched a passionate defence of the corporation at Goldsmiths yesterday, ahead of its Royal Charter renewal next year.

Sian Kevill, a former editor of current affairs programme Newsnight, Mike Flood Page, a former commissioning editor at the BBC and Pat Younge, a former chief creative officer at the corporation, discussed the BBC’s future.

The trio led a lively debate in the Professor Stuart Hall building, fielding questions from an audience of students and staff.

The event was chaired by Goldsmiths’ Professor Angela Philips and was part of the Department of Media and Communication’s media forum series – regular debates around media issues.

The Royal Charter, which is renewed every 10 years by the government, questions how the BBC should be funded and operated.

Flood Page opened the debate by challenging the rhetoric posed by the government, that the broadcaster is a threat to its commercial competitors, citing that the “BBC looks like a media minnow,” in comparison to it’s global rivals such as Sky.

Younge also questioned this rhetoric, citing the fact that the BBC commissions half it’s content from independent commercial companies, including many that are owned by large conglomerates. For example, Masterchef is created by The Endemol Shine Group, which 21st Century Fox have a 50 per cent share in.

Kevill also raised concerns that further cuts to the BBC, including taking on the cost of the license fee for the over 75s, would lead to a diminished service.

She claimed that the government was launching an “ideological attack” on the BBC, and that their proposals “will change fundamentally and forever, the fabric of this country.”

The evening concluded with Phillips raising the question as to whether or not the Royal Charter should be renewed by an independent body, separate from the government.

More information on the debate about the future of the BBC can be found on Open Democracy’s OurBeeb, which is edited by Flood Page.

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