Richard Sambrook - The World at Large

That BBC settlement…

I’ve been asked for my view – so here are the headlines:

What’s good -

  • Agreed funding for at least 6 years
  • Avoids a protracted and toxic debate on funding
  • Avoided the confusion over purpose and additional bill of free licences for the over 75s
  • 16% cut in real terms is do-able, but there will be hard and unpopular choices
  • Right that the BBC takes some of the pain
  • A World Service funded by the licence fee provides opportunites for efficiency savings and integration

What’s worrying -

  • A compelling vision of the BBC’s role in the digital age will now have to be retro-fitted into a funding settlement. It should go the other way round.
  • The BBC will need to “over-cut” in the early years to save funds for later investment in a rapidly developing media environment. Who knows what’s needed in 6 years time.
  • Strategy on the hoof (which this seems to have been) often comes back to haunt those who live with the consequences
  • The World Service is a small but precious gem at risk of being eroded by domestic priorities in BBC Licence fee budget rounds. The need for it, in a world of soft power, has never been greater.
  • Licence fee payer support for services aimed at international audiences is questionable…

“Only time will tell”….

About the author

Richard Sambrook is Global Vice Chairman and Chief Content Officer for Edelman. Before joining Edelman, Richard worked in the BBC when he ran BBC Sport, BBC News and finally the BBC’s Global News Division.