A Labour shadow minister has sought to pin the blame for the move by tv cooking competition The Great British Bake Off from BBC to Channel 4 on the Conservatives, insisting that the Corporation lost the program because of government spending cuts.
The loss of Great British Bake Off by the BBC has caused uproar. More than 21,000 people signing a petition against the move arguing: “Bake Off is a British institution, just like the BBC. It’s an immersive escape from commercials and moving it to Channel 4 will lose everything that’s special about it. … Bake Off allows us to recognise the wonderful diversity of the UK, and sets the tone for our country.”
Fans were further enraged when the shows two presenters, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, who have been with the show since its launch seven years ago, announced that they wouldn’t be making the move to Channel 4 along with the format. The competition’s two judges have yet to announce whether they will remain with the program.
Yesterday in Parliament Chi Onwurah, Labour’s shadow Culture Minister, sought to capitalise on the nation’s outpouring of love for the BBC by slamming the Tories for allowing the program to be lost to the corporation.
Onwurah criticising a deal made between the government and the corporation last year, in which the BBC shouldered the financial cost of providing free licences, worth £145 a year, to over-75 year olds in return for the Government allowing the licence fee to cover catch-up TV and rise in line with inflation.
Although the deal was hailed as financially advantageous by BBC bosses at the time, Onwurah railed: “it will cost the BBC £1.3 billion over five years, and then £750 million each year. That represents a 20 percent cut in licence fee income, which could … fund Radio 4 eight times over.
It could pay for 30 “Great British Bake Offs”.
She added: “Ministers would do well to consider that before depriving the British public of their favourite shows.”
Culture Minister Matt Hancock called upon Onwurah to “correct what she just said” and acknowledge that the program would still be available to watch on Channel 4, a free-to-view mainstream broadcaster which is also government subsidised.
But Onwurah declined, saying: “it is clearly not going to be on the BBC and that is clearly a question of funding.
“The BBC is one of the cornerstones of our £84 billion creative industries. Its successes are something that we on the Labour Benches celebrate. Protecting the BBC is crucial,” she insisted.
Love Productions, the company who make Bake Off, opted to go with Channel 4 for future series after the broadcaster offered £25 million a year for the next three years, vastly outbidding the BBC’s highest offer of £15 million a year. That figure is said to be twice what the BBC has previously paid for the show.
Industry insiders told The Independent that the £15 million sum was “huge” by its standards, equivalent to the sum it would normally pay for several dramas.
But unlike the BBC, which does not run adverts, Channel 4 is likely to recoup some of its huge outlay through advertising, Maisie McCabe, acting UK editor of the media and advertising magazine Campaign, said.
“The buyers who book for content for advertising that I have spoken to are all really excited. For advertisers, being able to promote their brand alongside such a successful product would be a really exciting opportunity,” McCabe said, speculating that some companies may be willing to pay £6 million a year to sponsor such a high profile show, while advertising slots could recoup £2.4 million per episode.
Meanwhile Love Productions has said that the decision to move to Channel 4 was not solely financially driven. Staff were told via an internal email: “We always wanted to stay on the BBC… this has never been about who might write the biggest cheque, but about where we can find the best home for Bake Off.”
According to insiders, the company was aware of the public affection for Bake Off and turned down even higher offers in order to go with Channel 4, a free-to-air channel with a public service ethos.