Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Former BBC controller breaks cover to admit huge crisis – ‘BBC WILL decline further’

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Mark Damazer, a former controller at BBC Radio 4, has admitted the BBC is struggling to appeal to younger audiences. He also pointed out the number of people tuning in to watch BBC channels is declining rapidly.

Mr Damazer a former Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford, made the comments during a panel discussion on the future of the BBC.

During the webinar, that was held via Zoom on Wednesday, he attempted to defend the BBC but also acknowledged several of its flaws, especially regarding plummeting viewing figures.

He said: “The BBC has declined, is declining and will decline further in terms of sheer numbers of eyeballs and eardrums.

“That is all true and highly likely to continue to be true.”

Mr Damazer also pointed out the majority of the BBC audience is amongst pensioners, and the corporation largely fails to appeal to younger audiences.

He said: “These people are all over the age of 70 and amongst the younger audiences the BBC is failing and failing very badly.

“This is unquestionably true that the BBC is struggling and finding it very tough with under-35s.”

But the former controller was quick to defend the corporation.

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Mr Damazer said: “The decline [in views] is from such an incredibly high base, that it skews the judgement into thinking that the BBC is in some ways a legacy brand.

“All we’re doing is talking about decline instead of something that is central and important and loved and sometimes hated and engaged in.

“It is deeply embedded in British cultural life, social life and political life.”

He added: “Although it is unquestionably true that the BBC faces challenges for particular audiences and they are very very serious ones.

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“The BBC needs to demonstrate value to all of its audiences at least some of the time.

“It is simply not true that the BBC is failing.”

Professor Philip Booth, a British economist who has written ‘New Vision: The Future of the BBC’, also points out the BBC is losing its grasp among younger audiences.

He sites Ofcom’s Media Nations 2019 report, which states in the UK 18-34 year-olds watch seven times as much Netflix and Youtube as BBC One content.

The official report also found the average time spent by all adults watching Netflix and Youtube now is greater than the amount of time they spending watching BBC One.

As a result, he said: “There is no requirement in the modern world for people to pay for TV services they do not watch.”

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