SherlockA poll held by the UK’s Radio Times, the longstanding companion listings magazine for the BBC, has garnered massive support for Britain’s Best-loved Company remaining a publicly funded institution supported by a television license fee. According to Radio Times, almost 9,000 respondents declared 91 percent in favour of the BBC retaining its existing funding form. That means the existing funding arrangements for Sherlock, Doctor Who, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and all the other great series, book tie-ins, novelizations, cosplay and figurine classics, and other spinoff merchandise that so many of you worldwide know and love.

According to the Radio Times poll’s findings:

A staggering 96 per cent of you support the principle of a publicly funded broadcaster, with 91 per cent saying that the licence fee is the best way of funnelling public cash to the corporation. Huge numbers say that the BBC provides high-quality programming that is distinctive from other broadcasters and, as a result, the vast majority of you – regardless of your age – would even be happy to forgo a free licence when you’re 75 rather than see the BBC lose out.

This is all unfolding in the context of the renewal of the BBC’s charter. As the UK Parliament website on the subject explains, “the current Royal Charter and Agreement came into force in 2006 and are due to expire in December 2016. The renewal of the Charter and Agreement provides a rare opportunity for Government, Parliament and the public to influence how the BBC is financed and operated.” The BBC is funded by a license fee on every television sold in the UK, currently running at £145.50 (222.65). And the BBC has the digital option covered: “You need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service. This is the case whether you use a TV, computer, tablet, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD/VHS recorder or any other device.”

The UK Parliament web page also states that, “When asked which national institutions they most trust, British people continue to place the BBC at or near the top of their list.” Certainly more than politicians. The Charter renewal debate is attracting much scrutiny and suspicion from many quarters, with the current Secretary of State for culture, media and sport, John Whittingdale, stating that: “No one could deny that the BBC has made some bad mistakes in the last few years.” Some of those less visible mistakes, many believe, include overly unfavourable reporting of the Scottish Independence campaign in 2014, and apparently soft reporting of the “Piggate” allegations against current UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Could the BBC be seeking to curry favour with the powers that be to protect their existing position and funding arrangements? To judge from the Radio Times poll at least, they could perhaps afford to take a tougher line. It seems the public has their backs – unlike those pigs of politicians.

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Paul St John Mackintosh is a British poet, writer of dark fiction, and media pro with a love of e-reading. His gadgets range from a $50 Kindle Fire to his trusty Vodafone Smart Grand 6. Paul was educated at public school and Trinity College, Cambridge, but modern technology saved him from the Hugh Grant trap. His acclaimed first poetry collection, The Golden Age, was published in 1997, and reissued on Kindle in 2013, and his second poetry collection, The Musical Box of Wonders, was published in 2011.


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