Thank you to those Islanders who have contacted me recently about the BBC. For most of us, television is an important connection with the outside world which both entertains and informs. It also plays a role in keeping people company – particularly important during the past twelve months and especially true of older people.
It was disappointing to hear of the BBC’s decision to stop the funding of licences for many over-75s, with only those who are in receipt of pension credit being able to benefit from a free licence. This was a decision which was made by the BBC, not the Government, after Parliament legislated to give the BBC full responsibility from 2020. However, I do not believe that this is the end of the conversation about what the BBC can do to assist older people.
The way audiences consume content has shifted dramatically in recent years. As we move into an increasingly digital age, with more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, I believe the time has come to think carefully about how the BBC, and indeed public service broadcasting more generally, can stay relevant in the years ahead.
In an age of fake news, the need for impartiality is greater than ever. I therefore welcome the fact that the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has set out ensuring impartiality as one of the key tests for the BBC as part of the remit of the recently announced Public Service Broadcasting Advisory Panel. This extends to BBC reporters’ statements on social media and the BBC has launched a review into how the corporation can maintain impartiality on these platforms. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, highlighted that the broadcaster must "guard its unique selling point of impartiality in all of its output". I hope this will make sure the BBC remains a trusted provider of high-quality news for audiences in the UK and abroad.