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Scaling back the BBC would be “devastating” for the private sector, TUC report warns

The TUC says that steps to weaken or undermine the BBC would cause real and lasting damage to the UK’s creative industries – the fastest growing sector of the UK economy.

Scaling back the BBC could be “devastating” for the private sector, according to a new Trades Union Congress-commissioned report.

The report, which comes as the government prepares to unveil its new BBC White Paper, warns that reducing BBC funding would damage thousands of companies that depend on the corporation’s willingness to invest large amounts in original programming.

Best of British: how the BBC powers the UK's creative industries shows that far from crowding out the private sector, the BBC gives around £1.2bn each year to more than 2,500 different creative suppliers.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) says that steps to weaken or undermine the BBC would cause real and lasting damage to the UK’s creative industries – the fastest growing sector of the UK economy.

Best of British highlights how:  

  • The BBC contributes more than £8bn to the UK economy – approximately two pounds for every pound spent.
  • For every £1 of income it receives, the BBC invests 56p in the production of original UK content. By contrast, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 invest 44p from every £1 and Sky who invest just 7p.
  • The BBC employs hundreds of musicians, provides vital opportunities for new performers and composers to break through, and is the biggest commissioner of new music in the UK. 
  • The BBC is also a major investor in UK intellectual property, buying rights and paying royalties to many performers. 

The report also warns against forcing the BBC to move its most popular programmes, such as Strictly Come Dancing which employs a live band, to non-prime time slots.

Best of British says only the BBC would have thought to turn ballroom dancing and baking, two previously unfashionable British pastimes, into forms of mass entertainment for the twenty-first century.

The report says these creative risks have paid off handsomely with the show formats for Strictly Come Dancing and the Great British Bake Off, being sold to 50 and 20 overseas broadcasters respectively.

The TUC believes that the BBC’s willingness to invest in new formats and artists is a direct result of its public service remit to champion originality and creative excellence and its unique model of funding through the licence fee.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Scaling back the BBC would be devastating for the UK’s creative industries and hurt many companies in the private sector.

“The BBC does not ‘crowd out’ its competitors it forces them to up their game. Those seeking to diminish its influence, do so for political rather than evidence-based reasons.

“Ministers should be celebrating the BBC as one of the UK’s great success stories, not dreaming up new ways of cutting and weakening it.”

Published: 10/05/2016

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