Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Some Thoughts on the BBC Cuts


There's been loads of comment on this week's announcements re the proposed BBC cuts, so I thought I'd add some personal and some more garden related thoughts to the mix, especially as there's quite a few things of interest which didn't made the headlines.

Overall, I think the Beeb's been pretty savvy in snipping away across the board, rather than facing the active campaigning lobbies such as those which sprang up against the closure of 6Music and when deep cuts to BBC4 and the World Service were mooted. That's not to say protests won't happen - for instance there's already a strong campaign to #savebbcbirmingham - and I've also witnessed - and rightly so - some lively debates regarding more TV repeats and the changes to the BBC's news services.

Here's some less well-known snippets:
  • Gardeners' World, Countryfile and Chelsea Flower Show coverage are amongst the programmes set to move from Birmingham to Bristol. Whilst they'll still be on our screens, whether their new location and/or proximity to the acclaimed Natural History Unit will influence a change in direction or content remains to be seen. For instance, will we get more (yes please) of the themed coverage - on William Robinson and plant hunters - like we saw from Chelsea Flower Show last year?
  • Local weather forecasting: if you're like me, you've found this one's the most reliable on offer and therefore the one to watch. Spare a thought for this service then, as it's set to have one presenter per region. Imagine the consequences of a solo presenter covering breakfast, lunch, dinner and late at night. And what happens when they go on holiday or are sick? I'm predicting more pre-recorded forecasts, which in turn leads to less flexibility to react to what actually happens. OR of course, our weather won't change at the last minute in future ;)
  • The BBC's already sold BBC Magazines, the publishing arm responsible for titles like the Radio Times, Gardeners' World and Gardens Illustrated. The impact on content or any of our favourite writers remains to be seen.
I also have an observation about the demise of local radio. In some ways it's a relatively 'easy' cut for the BBC to make as it has a more fragmented and lesser following compared to any of the national stations.

However, local radio really comes into its own during times of local emergency. Where do you turn to for information (apart from Twitter!) when there's major flooding, a massive fire or the recent riots? For many people the answer's their local radio station, at a time when a comforting presence and good information based on local knowledge can be vital. How will that service be maintained in the future when great swathes of their programming will be on a national basis?

And finally, most of the news coverage hasn't told you there's a public consultation on the proposed BBC cuts from now until December 21st. So do have a look at the proposals in full (I can't link to the PDF document directly, but there's a link from the one I've just given), have a ponder on which of them affects the service(s) you most value and let the BBC know what you think about it. This post is helping me to do just that and I'm also on the look out for any campaigns I want to add my voice to.

What are your thoughts on the proposed BBC cuts?

7 comments:

  1. I don't like the BBC and thought they should have been cut deeply years ago. I would scrap the web site and all of their mainly useless local radio. I would keep BBC1/2 and radio 4 and close the rest. The BBC sent 407 staff to Glastonbury - absolute nonsense. They deserve what they get in my opinion.

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  2. My suggestion: they should make fewer, but better, episodes of Doctor Who!! :)

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  3. Hermes - thanks for your comment. I knew as I was writing this that as licence fee payers we each have our own 'version' which we call our own BBC. I regularly link to the website because it's an independent source of information and therefore has no implied product recommendations, so it's one aspect of the BBC I value highly.

    Monica - I agree. I regularly say to NAH that sometimes the story in an episode was sacrificed at the expense of the overall 'story arc' (dreadful term).

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  4. I think one of the problems is that, as you said yourself, we all have a different notion of what "our" bbc is, and what we think it should be doing. I heard someone on the radio saying that the beeb shouldn't be trying to show sports like F1 (which they have already lost) or football etc. As a sports fan I don't agree, I don't want to pay Sky/Murdoch anything. Just one weather forecaster per region sounds like a nutty thing to do to me, but there again, I'd hate to make the call as to what should be cut instead...

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  5. Janet - I'd hate to be making that decision too, because whatever they decide it'll be unpopular with pretty much every licence fee payer.

    I see the BBC are now 'advertising' how you can tell them what you think about the cuts.

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  6. I'm just relieved they're not getting rid of BBC4 altogether, as I think we watch that more than any other channel now.

    I agree re themed coverage from garden shows, but I do hope they'll cut all the celeb-spotting (making film clips & collecting sound bites from people who are there because it's the place to be rather than because they're interested in gardening is a silly waste of money).

    I like your comment about the weather changing at the last minute. On the other hand, when did you last hear an accurate weather forecast anyway?!

    It would never occur to me to tune in to local radio though, certainly not in an emergency. If I want information I go to the internet every time.

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  7. Juliet - our local weather forecast is pretty good, so that's why I'm concerned about it.

    When there was all the flooding and subsequent lack of water supply in Cheltenham a couple of years ago, my colleague didn't have internet access as it was down at the time. She said her local radio station was a life saver.

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