Amount of TV produced in UK ‘would fall by 50 per cent if BBC didn’t exist,’ claims new study

Findings of researchers at Oxford University will aid Corporation as it fends off calls for licence fee to be shared

Media Editor

The amount of television produced in Britain would fall by as much as 50 per cent if the BBC were to no longer exist, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University.

A report compiled by the university’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism claims that “a future without BBC Television” is a “logical conclusion” of proposed changes to the organisation’s funding ahead of its next Royal Charter beyond 2016.

The findings, predicting a collapse in home-grown programming without the BBC, are helpful to the Corporation as it tries to fend off calls for the licence fee to be shared with other broadcasters or for reduced funding which would mean “salami-slice” cuts in its resources.

A reduced BBC would be “bad for the public”, said one of the report’s co-authors Patrick Barwise, a visiting fellow at the Institute. “[Critics] conclude that viewers would be better served if the BBC were smaller – allowing commercial broadcasters to expand – and showed only public service programmes that the market will not provide. We think our analysis demolishes that argument. A smaller BBC would be bad for the public even in pure consumer terms: choice and value for money.”

The study found that overall investment in all television programmes would fall by five to 25 per cent, and that investment in new UK programmes would drop by between 25 and 50 per cent. The authors said this would be a “severe blow” to the UK’s independent television production sector.

The findings come after a succession of senior broadcasting figures have advocated radical changes to the BBC’s current funding model. Former BBC chairman and former Channel 4 Chief Executive Lord Grade suggested to MPs that Channel 4 should be allowed to compete for a share of the licence fee and that the BBC should reduce its in-house programme making to news and current affairs only.

But the Institute’s report said scaling back the BBC would not mean other organisations expanded their output. “The evidence suggests that, on the contrary, the BBC probably forces commercial channels to spend more on programmes in order to attract viewers. If this is correct, losing BBC Television would be even more damaging to viewers and programme producers than the report projects,” it said.

The authors predicted that if the Government continued to force reductions of the BBC (as it did with the freezing of the licence fee at the last settlement in 2010) then the organisation would be quickly “reduced to a minor sideshow”, the equivalent of America’s Public Broadcasting Service, which is largely funded by philanthropy.

Tony Hall, the Director General of the BBC, will today argue that the organisation should model itself on John Lewis rather than adopting the management culture of the banking sector.

Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC (Getty) Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC (Getty)
Lord Hall’s sympathy for the department store chain and its model of sharing profits among its employees will be seen as an attack on the generous executive pay structure adopted under the previous BBC regime.

In a speech to the Oxford Media Convention, he will appeal to the public to support the BBC’s current licence fee funding model by highlighting the organisation’s importance to Britain’s national culture on the international stage.

“We have a creative sector in this country that is world-beating,” he will say. “The BBC is an essential part of that. And it’s British: owned by the British people. Google is more than double the size of the whole UK broadcasting market [and] Apple seven times bigger. Today, I believe the BBC’s cultural influence still matches theirs. I want that to be true at the end of this charter and into the next.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP)

£30 - 50k (DOE): Guru Careers: An experienced Software / Web Developer (PHP) i...

Guru Careers: Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Artworker

£18 - 23k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Ar...

Guru Careers: Account Manager

£30 - 38k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a digitally focussed Account Man...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests