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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Releases

Mark Thompson email to BBC staff

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General, today sent an email to all BBC staff.

The text of the email follows.

"Dear All,

"You may have seen that this weekend, the Guardian published a new poll about public attitudes to the BBC. It showed very strong public support for us. Four out of five people said that the UK should be proud of the BBC – a much higher figure than when ICM asked the same question five years ago. Our score for trustworthiness was up too: 69% agreed that the BBC was trustworthy, compared to 60% in 2004.

"None of this comes as a surprise to us – our own tracking research has indicated that, at a time when public faith in many other British institutions is eroding fast, belief in the BBC is actually strengthening. Our services have never been stronger – just look at the summer of music, drama and sport we've been able to deliver to the public. And our approach to the editorial problems of the past two years and to the wider issue of openness and candour in public life seems to have struck a real chord with the public.

"But the poll must have made uncomfortable reading for those critics who would like the world to believe that trust and pride in the BBC is getting weaker rather than stronger. We've seen a pretty relentless onslaught from the press over the summer, culminating in James Murdoch's MacTaggart Lecture. The most important thing to say about that lecture and about many of the recent attacks on the BBC is that they are desperately out of touch with what the audience themselves are telling us.

"The public also have clear and strong views about the Government's proposal to top-slice some of the licence-fee and give it to commercial players to provide various kinds of public service content. Today the Chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, is writing to licence-payers about the wider broadcasting debate in which he will include the results of independent research the Trust commissioned on public attitudes to top-slicing.

"Based on emerging findings from new survey research, the Trust believes that if in future licence fee settlements there was money the BBC did not need, the public would not want it given to other media outlets. The Trust's research offered six possible options for what should happen to the licence fee once current spending on digital switchover is complete. Around half of those asked would prefer the licence fee to be lowered by £5.50, compared to just six per cent who wanted additional money to be spent on regional news on other channels.

"But the fact that the public support our stand on top-slicing and reject many of the most extreme attacks on us does not mean that we should shut our ears to criticism nor that the BBC can stand still.

"Digital switchover will mean new audience needs and demands. The media landscape is changing beyond recognition – the old balance between the BBC and the rest of media has been upset as commercial business models are under severe pressure. The wider economy and the public finances as a whole look profoundly different than they did when we launched Creative Future.

"All of these things pose big questions for the BBC, and that means it is the right time to take a searching look at what the BBC should look like in the post-2012, post-switchover world. Back in June I agreed with the Trust that this autumn we would do just that, examining the way the BBC can best serve the public in the future, assessing the scale and scope of our operations, and – without compromising on our fundamental duty to serve the public – look at how we can help promote the right environment for the creative industries as a whole, an environment in which other media providers can grow and succeed and plurality can flourish.

"As this work progresses, I will write to you again. In the meantime, my thanks and congratulations to everyone who helped make our summer such a success on air and on the web and good luck with the autumn.

"All the best,
Mark Thompson

BBC Press Office

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