BBC Charter Review responses about BBC.co.uk
I've had a bit of time this evening to look more closely at the published responses so far to the BBC Charter Review Public Consultation exercise. I was particularly looking out for references to the BBC's internet operation. My initial idea was to skim through and try to put together a balanced selection of pull-quotes about bbc.co.uk.
I quickly found that this was going to be more work than I had imagined. The consultation specifically asked 'How should the BBC adapt to cope with changes in technology and culture?'. 27 out of the 62 responses I looked at mentioned the bbc.co.uk website in one form or other, which was much more than I had anticipated. On balance the comments seemed mostly praise, so I'm just going to list here all the comments about the online BBC presence I pulled from the responses on the 'A' & 'B' pages. I've included a couple of comments which appear to me to reference online by its omission from the list of functions the respondee felt the BBC should be engaged with.
"I'm totally skint and living in a small village in North Yorkshire but through regular use of the BBC's radio, TV and internet just about all the riches of world culture are available to me and my family. From Pingu to Purcell."
"The online strategy should be extended to include commercial enterprises so that one may see texts, documents, music, TV programmes, bespoke information, and other digital products being sold by the BBC online. This makes the material available to a wider audience at a reasonable cost and brings more money into the BBC"
"I have heard that the BBC is under attack for its Web Site.
I wish to register my view that this web site is refreshingly different from others. It is not full of wonderful 'offers'. It is full of information that is very helpful. It performs a public service that is unrivalled.
This service should be encouraged, not attacked by mean minded capitalists"
"Lack of adverts is great as is the sure knowledge that my kids will be secure on the web site....The BBC does not need to do more on the internet than it already does. Great homepage, great programme related games/info etc. Simply get ready for streamed content and interactivity as this arises - but no need to lead the way or invest. There is some validity in commercial interests pushing back against the BBC here."
"The things I value most about the BBC are:
1. News and current affairs coverage.
2. High quality documentaries and other factual programming.
3. The range of services, specifically, the TV channels, including the excellent BBC4, the radio channels and the excellent online services.
The online services are excellent and their quality and range makes me enormously proud of this country."
"At present Britons living and working on the continent are being fobbed off with extremely ropy (and expensive!) internet reception of radios such as BBC7 while the expats of other European countries -- even those not nearly as wealthy as Britain -- can listen to *their* favourite radio stations in satellite quality in all parts of the continent. We are now the laughing stock of Europe. Telling expats on the European continent that they can now listen to Radio 3 or BBC7 via the internet is quite simply contemptible."
"It is vital that the BBC is properly funded to enable it to deliver a wholly independent, high quality television, radio and Internet service to EVERYONE in the UK. Generations ago radio was dominant, then television became the most important medium. Today radio is on the increase, and young people increasingly use the Internet for their needs. The BBC must have a place at the heart of all of these outlets."
"Internet based information and educational services should provide basic content free with the option of registering and paying a small fee for additional services and features."
"It is quite absurd in these days of multiple channels that the BBC is taxing us via the license to expand its operations in competition with commercial channels. The license fee should be reduced and the BBC told to concentrate on a core of two TV channels and a few radio channels."
"I also am a big fan of the BBC website. I use it as my home page. I find it more useful than any other reference programme on my computer."
"This 'review' like everything else about the BBC is an exercise in time wasting. At the end of the day public opinion will be ignored and the poor will go on subsidising the rich."
"I find that the BBCi website and the offering of new channels which are themed has increased viewer choice."
I am a strong supporter of the BBC. I believe it is the best asset the UK has in terms of TV, Radio, Online and Interactive services, as well as being a cultural organisation committed to impartiality, independence and inclusivity.
BBC ONLINE is the best service provided by the BBC. Its new slant towards messageboards, chatrooms and online communities is good for connecting people and i think it should continue.
"The BBC website is one of the best on the web and is my homepage."
"Well I don't know much about technology myself... but if you want to use the Internet, use it with links to other helpful websites, as you probably already do."
"Q) What do you value most about the BBC?
A) BBC 1 & 2, Radio 4 & 5, bbc.co.uk"
"The BBC has always been at the forefront of innovation and its new services have always been underfire; 'no one will use it', 'it's a waste of money' etc. Most of the new technologies have turned out to be huge successes, such as colour TV, BBC2, websites etc. I don't think anyone can have anticipated the impact bbc.co.uk could have had when it was launched and is now unthinkable that it could be discontinued."
"As an ex-patriot I use the BBC website daily, and to a lesser extent the BBC World Service. When resident in the UK I utilised the BBC Digital TV and Radio services and the BBC Website on a daily basis. I think that the coverage in terms of subjects, regions and communities is excellent and unrivalled globally in terms of being provided by one authorative supplier. I would say that I utilise a great number of the BBC facilities/services, but would single out BBC Radio 4, BBC News and the BBC Website as particular 'highlights'."
"The BBC seems to manage acres of coverage on all sorts of subjects but is being very coy about this particular process. I recently visited a number of their web sites such as BBC News to find out more. As I did not know what the process was called i.e 'Charter Review' I could not find anything, even through their search engines, where I used words like 'BBC debate' and 'discussion'.
Should the BBC itself not be making more of an effort, whether it likes the idea or not, to promote this process? Could you not instruct them to do so? I believe there should be a clear reference on all the main BBC's home pages, with an understandable link to your own web pages, encouraging people to take part in the process - a 'Have Your Say About the BBC' type link, ideally with some sample comments which have already been made, rather than a less inviting link such as e.g. 'BBC Royal Charter Review Process'."
"The website is brilliant, so much information there and exchange of knowledge....which surely is what the BBC is about, to inform and educate. The search engine is easy to use and UK based. I would be lost without all this, and in fact spent six dreary years overseas pining for the BBC before the internet was up and running, so I do have experience."
"The BBC is to all intents and purposes a commercial organisation now (it even runs adverts for digiboxes). I am very concerned that it is using public money to fund its new digital channels, since in some cases (eg news) I feel there are already good commercial providers, and in other cases (Internet and Asian channels) the BBC is using its taxation funding to build market share at the expense of commercial operators."
I work from home and listen to the BBC daily on my PC via their web pages. They are extremely informative in all their news features and are very quick bringing the latest updates.
It is also possible to listen again to the shows missed or because it takes your fancy. I particularly like Radio 5 for the comedy programmes. Especially the old ones 'The Goon Show' to name but one.
"The BBC responded to the internet very well. If it manages to cope with future changes in the same way it will have done an excellent job."
"Whilst applauding the idea of making BBC television freely available by satellite to everyone living in the British Isles, I fail to see why all the BBC RADIO stations also had to be put on the 'Little England' Astra 2D satellite, thus depriving several hundreds of thousands of British citizens living and working (or just holidaying) in Europe of the excellent reception they had enjoyed for several years.
British expats in Europe feel betrayed and humiliated by the cavalier fashion in which they have been treated. Also disgusted by the hypocritical excuses offered by the BBC whenever we have contacted them about the matter. On the one hand they say that there are rights issues but on the other hand they say that all the radios are available as internet radio streams (albeit of quite poor quality)."
"Website services are unequivocally excellent. Especially streaming BBC broadcast services over broadband. (I regret that there is not longer access to earlier programming (the archive only covers the previous week) though I understand this is a contractual problem)."
"What I value most about the BBC, in order of importance
Excellent childrens programming, especially CBEEBIES
Web page, search engine which excludes offensive material
QUALITY of new programming especially drama and factual programes
I believe the BBC has a responsibility to set standards in se of new technology and be at the forefront of promotion of its responsible use.
I think the BBC's online services are excellent."
"1 I do not value the BBC at all.
2 The BBC does not need to adapt . It is a dinosaur. Dinosaurs do not adapt.
3 Radios 1 2 5 & local should be privatised. BBC television should be obtainable by subscription or advertiser funded. Radios 4 5 and World external services funded by the treasury or sponsorship.
4 The BBC should not run commercial services."
On the whole I was heartened by reading through this - notably for me both Search and web community applications were specifically praised. However it does concern me a little that perhaps there hasn't been enough joined-up thinking at DCMS level about this whole process. These people are feeding into the Charter Review comments on bbc.co.uk services before the findings of Philip Graf's report have been revealed. This could easily impact on some of the services praised here as being of value to the public in the next decade.
The other thing that struck me going through the responses were that the two biggest single issue lobby groups are:
- Bring back EastEnders on BBC America
- Bring back BBC Radio on a Europe-wide satellite footprint for ex-pat British people
Which really shows exactly how global the BBC is as an institution, and how global the internet is as a means of campaigning.
You can take part in the consultation until 31 March 2004 - mail firstname.lastname@example.org