Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is to tell BBC bosses they need to move beyond a ‘narrow urban outlook’ to get in touch with its audience in the shires
- Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will brief the BBC on developing its outlook
- He will warn them they need to change in order to ‘retain support and relevance’
- He will also raise the issue of whether the corporation has guarded its ‘unique selling point of impartiality’ across all of its output
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will today tell the BBC it must do more to get in touch with the ‘whole of the United Kingdom’ after it missed key political trends like the backing for Brexit.
In his first speech since he took over from Nicky Morgan last month, Mr Dowden will make clear that he wants the corporation to move beyond a ‘narrow urban outlook’.
While singling out the global respect the BBC commands, comparing its reputation to the NHS, he will warn that institutions have to change if they want to ‘retain support and relevance’.
ecretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on February 25, 2020 in London. In his first speech since he took over from Nicky Morgan last month, Mr Dowden will make clear that he wants the BBC to move beyond a ‘narrow urban outlook’
He will say that without ‘genuine diversity of thought and experience’ the BBC will ‘miss what’s important to people’ and ‘seem distant and disengaged’.
Mr Dowden will add the corporation ‘must reflect all of our nation, and all perspectives’.
He will also raise the issue of whether the corporation has guarded its ‘unique selling point of impartiality’ across all of its output.
The Culture Secretary’s comments come after the BBC has in the past been accused of being slow to pick up on the public mood on issues like immigration and the growing support for Brexit.
Addressing industry leaders from media, telecoms and technology, Mr Dowden will ask whether the BBC is ‘ready to embrace proper reform’ to ‘ensure its long term sustainability for the decades ahead’.
The Government is currently consulting on whether to decriminalise licence fee evasion, which will be followed by a new licence fee settlement and mid-term charter review in the coming years.
John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs are pictured in a still from the Fawlty Towers TV series. Mr Dowden will add the BBC has helped build our British sense of self through shows such as Fawlty Towers, Gavin and Stacey and Blue Planet, which brought generations together
The BBC is also taking on responsibility for funding free TV licences for over-75s.
The Government has suggested that the licence fee could be scrapped at the end of the charter in 2027.
Mr Dowden, speaking at the Media and Telecoms 2020 & Beyond conference, will say that in the world of increased choice from the likes of Netflix and YouTube, the BBC needs to focus ‘even more strongly on relevance and representation’.
But he will say that the corporation is ‘cherished’ and it ‘would be crazy to throw it away’.
He will add that the BBC has helped build our British sense of self through shows such as Fawlty Towers, Gavin and Stacey and Blue Planet, which brought generations together.
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