Repeats top viewers' complaints about BBC

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The Independent Online

There is a "startling" feeling among the public that the quality of BBC television is declining, with repeats at the top of the list of complaints, according to a new government report.

There is a "startling" feeling among the public that the quality of BBC television is declining, with repeats at the top of the list of complaints, according to a new government report.

The findings of a public consultation with nearly 5,500 viewers and listeners commissioned as part of the Government's review of the BBC's charter adds new weight to the admission by the corporation's governors in last week's annual report that viewers are increasingly dissatisfied.

What Do You Think of the BBC? also reveals that instead of thinking of the BBC as the nation's "Auntie", people are now inclined to personify the corporation as "a man in his 50s, suited, comfortably off, conventional, conservative and reserved, who appears friendly but was powerful and sometimes domineering".

While there is a high level of overall satisfaction with services - 75 per cent - the report finds: "The unanimity about the sense of decline in quality of BBC television output is startling."

People's primary concerns include too many repeats of programmes that do not interest them, "dumbing down" and "copycat programming" - too many reality and makeover programmes and game shows.The most frequent criticism of the BBC was "too many repeats".

"The virtual elimination of intelligent programmes from BBC2 before 10.30pm is perhaps the major act of cultural vandalism of the past five years," said one respondent.

BBC1 was singled out for criticism, in particular by strong supporters of the corporation who feel the channel has lost ground in areas where it used to excel, such as drama and comedy. The governors last week ordered an independent review of the channel to address concerns about whether it is striking the right balance in terms of entertainment.

The report also concludes that most people see the licence fee as the "least worst" way to fund the BBC. But a Mori poll commissioned by the Government reveals that nearly two thirds of the public did not support the continuation of the licence fee.

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