What does the BBC mean to you ?
Young Trainee Leila considers the role of the BBC in advance of submitting evidence to the House of Lords Communications Select Committee…
What first comes to mind when the BBC is brought up today? As young trainees at Smart School Council Communities this was something we asked each other, as we prepared for our up and coming trip to give evidence for the renewal of the BBC charter. A common thought reiterated by us all was the solid foundation which the BBC has in British culture , and the various components which have evolved through the BBC from its radio programmes to its ever – growing online presence.
During our preparation session two young people from Haringey Sixth Form that would be joining us on our trip to Parliament discussed some common themes which we could present when submitting our evidence. These largely featured around representation, content, and funding. We were all aware that the BBC was currently funded by a license fee, however from our own research we could see that through the renewal of the charter this was now up for discussion. Through the BBC being funded by the publics licence fee it arguably ensures that it is transparent and not politically affiliated to any political party, this of course is debatable! We discussed what we thought of the BBC switching to advertising and in return what private funding would mean for the BBC. Would it for example change the BBC’s image of transparency and would the public be as favourable of it as an institution, one that is currently ranked highly in the list of Britain’s most trusted establishments.
Another theme which raised a lot of discussion was content on the BBC. A programme that is strongly linked to the BBC by many young people, and generally the public is EastEnders. One of the pupils from Haringey Sixth Form pointed out the negative representation which does take place, particularly on the programme EastEnders. As a broadcaster that is expected to represent many of Britain’s ideals, the fact that East Enders doesn’t feature one stable family and that many cultures in the programme are stereotyped, was something that we all agreed needed to be reconsidered. Britain is a melting pot of cultures, nationalities and religions which arguably should be represented by the BBC. Another factor of representation raised was the depiction of women through BBC programmes, especially around the limited roles women are usually given, whether it be of an adulteress or housewife. The BBC is well known for its News programmes; nationally, locally and globally as well as its demonstrative political interviews. However Nicola Sturgeon leader of the SNP demonstrated her disappointment at the British media during the recent campaign, and how questioning of female politicians still remains largely sexist.
Another point of discussion around the theme of content was the lack of representation of young people on the BBC. Further points we considered putting forward to the select committee were around introducing more programmes such as the previous ‘Free speech’ which acted as a Prime Ministers Question Time for young people as well as having a young person as a news reporter on the main news. This would hopefully encourage issues of the youth to become better known to the public as well as young people being better represented.
Looking forward we are all excited to be involved in the process of the renewal of the BBC charter. Throughout this process of planning I have realised this is a key way to motivate some of the apathetic youth , by involving them in these sorts of procedures, in order to remind them that they do have a voice worth hearing and that institutions of importance that affect their every day lives are listening.
Leila, Young Trainee