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The Case For PSB


PSB Arguments & Values

1. Unite, don’t polarise

PSB’s commitment to impartiality is needed in counterweight to the UK press which is – to a quite unusual degree – politically attached. At a time when debate has become ever more polarised there it’s vital to have an anchor in the centre ground that can bring people together, not drive them even further apart. We don’t need more echo chambers.

2. Build up, don’t weaken

In many countries governments are seeking to increase the funding and “soft power” of their national broadcasters. The BBC has an international reputation second to none.  Like the NHS, it has suffered from years of cuts. Like the NHS it needs support and investment.

3. Open debate, not closed

As funding models change (no-one thinks the licence fee can go on being linked to the sale of TV sets) most countries are having open debates about how to sustain public service broadcasting in future. Only in the UK is the debate happening behind closed doors, with a hand-picked panel and no published minutes. This is the opposite of what should be happening.

4. Reliable facts, not information chaos

Two thirds of people polled now say they can’t tell the difference between responsible sources of news and unreliable information. The fragmentation of news across social media platforms has led to an alarming drop off in trust – with people no longer sure who to believe. Societies and government can’t work unless there is agreement on who and what to believe. More people trust the BBC as a source of news than any other organisation in the UK, if not the world. It is madness to choose this moment to question its future.

5. Equal access to information

Elites will always have access to good information – just as they can buy good education or entertainment. But what happens when the top few per cent can pay for reliable news while everyone else has to make do with what’s floating around the internet; or on talk radio; or on TV news channels driven by ideology? The answer is the kind of dangerous populism which incited people to storm the Capitol building in Washington on January 6. Information inequality is like all inequality: it leads to bad outcomes.

6. Comprehensive coverage

The business model that sustained news for 200 years is crumbling – fast. There are now “news deserts” without any local newspaper. That’s terrible for democracy. Bad players step in to fill the vacuum. The BBC is global – with hundreds of correspondents around the world (vital to understand economics, security, climate change, immigration, food resources, pandemics). It is national (including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). And it is local – with a solid network of radio and TV reporters all over the UK. Of course, everyone hopes that a new business may emerge for private news – but it would be crazy to diminish the most comprehensive news provider without know what (if anything) will replace it. And don’t buy the argument that our PSBs are hindering private companies from flourishing. America has no systematic PSBs to compare with ours – and their news ecosystem is, if anything, weaker. So you could undermine our precious PSBs… and not see anything spring up to replace them.

Facts & Figures

Journey though the facts and figures of Public Service Broadcasting, in the UK & Worldwide.