The BBC has been accused of publishing “propaganda” after releasing a 52-page report detailing how families cannot live without its services.
The corporation commissioned a study in which 70 households volunteered to go nine days without services funded by Britain’s compulsory TV licence fee, including BBC TV, radio and internet services.
They were given “No BBC” stickers and posters, as well as portable cameras to document how they were coping without the corporation’s services.
Nearly 50 of them initially opposed the licence fee, either wanting it abolished entirely or favouring a reduction in the £145.50 annual charge. By the end, all but 16 had been converted and were now happy to pay the full fee.
The report details how some of participants claimed they could not bear to lose the BBC’s services, with one describing the experience as “excruciating”. Another person who took part in the BBC-commissioned experiment added: “We missed our BBC. It was a bit sad without it. It makes you realise it’s very good value for money.”
The corporation published the study online, together with an eight-minute-long video, and publicised it via Twitter, together with images emphasising the fact the licence fee costs the equivalent of 40p per day.
One user commented, however: “Lovely propaganda. Course it wouldn’t be 40p if it wasn’t subsidised by lots of people who don’t want it.”
Others soon joined in:
— Guillermo Zafra (@nilart) August 25, 2015
The report comes as the BBC’s Royal Charter is due to be reviewed by the government. The charter, which establishes the corporation as Britain’s state broadcaster and sets out its public obligations, must be renewed every ten years.
A separate study commissioned by the corporation claimed that 25 per cent cut in the licence fee would lead to 32,000 job losses and cut Britain’s GDP by £630 million, while it was also reported that Lord Hall, the BBC’s director general, threatened to announce the closure of one its main TV channels on budget day in a row over the compulsory fee.
Conservative MP Philip Davies called the latest report a “PR stunt”, telling the Daily Mail it was “completely pointless apart from showing how rattled the BBC bigwigs are at the thought of standing on their own two feet and giving their viewers a choice.”