Why we are campaigning
Equity's General Secretary Christine Payne explains why the union is campaigning for the future of the BBC.
"When I recently approached a number of Equity members to ask what they thought of the BBC and how they felt about its future, the response was overwhelming. They spoke passionately about the importance of BBC drama, comedy and light entertainment, both on screen and radio – the latter of which is an often overlooked but vital part of the BBC’s output. They spoke with pride about the great value for money the BBC provides, about the range and quality of its programmes, that the BBC is unique and is a beacon for broadcasting standards around the world.
But they also spoke of their fears for the future, the need to protect the BBC and the licence fee from attack and shared their thoughts about how the BBC should improve.
The last few years have witnessed huge growth in TV production. Sadly this surge in opportunities is not equally felt around the country. Equity has welcomed the BBC’s commitment to produce 17% of network television production from the UK’s Nations by 2016 and in the future we’d like to see the BBC leading the way in addressing regional imbalances, primarily by investing more in areas like the Midlands, providing inspiration and opportunities for both young and established actors.
Ensuring greater accountability for delivery on equality and diversity will be central to Equity’s lobby during Charter renewal. The BBC – and indeed all UK broadcasters - needs to maintain its relevance to all licence fee payers. We all want and need to see ourselves reflected in the media we consume and diversity on and off air must be at the top of the agenda.
Future proposals to remove the current in house guarantee or to privatise or otherwise reorganise the BBC’s TV production unit could, in our view, have damaging consequences for the BBC, and especially for those who work for the BBC and its audiences. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on these proposals.
Finally, media rivals and politicians frequently tell us that the BBC is too big, that its reach is too far, that the licence fee is a regressive tax, or that the BBC has an unfair advantage. Before we indulge these arguments we need to think carefully about what life would be like without the BBC. What would our television and radio look and sound like without the BBC.
Is the BBC worth fighting for – Yes; Is it perfect – No. So let’s work to make it the best it can be and that won’t be achieved by cutting the licence fee further or by dismantling the public value principles on which the BBC is founded and which this generation must fight to keep for the next."