The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) has been launching its BBC Alternative White Paper in Parliament today (Tuesday 15 March). Over one hundred union members, many of whom work for the BBC, turned up to lobby MPs and Lords and ask that they consider the recommendations made in the FEU paper.
The FEU Alternative White Paper calls for the BBC to:
- Renegotiate its agreement to fund free TV licences for the over-75s, which could mean a loss of 20 per cent of its budget
- Be independent of government interference, by extending the charter period to 11 years to take it out of the political cycle
- Have a governance structure which is not filled with government appointees and includes representatives of its staff and licence fee payers
- Continue to be a universal broadcaster making a full range of popular drama and entertainment programmes
- Provide news free of bias and maintain standards of accuracy and integrity in its journalism
Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, addressed the event this afternoon. She expressed regret over the fact that the BBC had agreed to pay licence fees for over 75s and said:
‘The people of this country appreciate the BBC and want to keep it doing what it is doing. What it is not, is a state broadcaster in the pocket of the government of the day. It is wrong that the BBC should be used as a political football and its independence has to be protected by politicians. This Alternative White Paper is an important voice that should be taken into account when the Government produces its White Paper.’
Writing in the FEU’s Alternative White Paper, actor Idris Elba said:
‘The BBC continues to support established actors, writers, directors and all members of our profession, whilst investing in and growing the new talent that represents the future of our industry. The BBC needs to remain – and as it is.’
David Yates, director of several Harry Potter films, said:
‘The BBC inspires, informs, provokes, and entertains, not for profit but to enrich and deepen our appreciation and understanding of the world. We should cherish and celebrate all that it stands for.’
The FEU comprises Equity, the Musicians’ Union, BECTU, the National Union of Journalists, the Writers Guild of Great Britain, the Professional Footballers Association and Unite.