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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Does the BBC offer value for money?
BBC TV Centre in London
The BBC's annual report has been published on Tuesday as the corporation prepares to renew its charter in 2006.

The annual report and accounts show a net debt of 74m but an increase of 346m in spending on programmes.

The licence fee, which provides more than 94% of BBC funding, brought in 2.659bn.

The broadcaster's commercial businesses also returned a record 147m to be ploughed back into programme making.

The report will be subject to intense political scrutiny following the corporation's public row with 10 Downing Street over coverage of the war in Iraq.

Does the BBC offer good value for money? Is there anything that could be done to improve the corporation's performance?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I'm happy for the BBC to go on charging a licence fee
Bart Read, UK
Personally I'm happy for the BBC to go on charging a licence fee. Why? Well simply because I can't stand the adverts on other channels, and because I believe that having a publicly funded corporation like the BBC keeps the overall quality of all TV in this country higher than it would be if all stations were commercial.
Bart Read, UK

I think the BBC should bite the bullet and change to subscription. I love the BBC (it makes up at least 80% of my listening and viewing) and I would be more than happy to pay subscription. But the current TV licence system should, in my opinion, be illegal. What if I set up a website and demanded that everyone who has internet access pay me money or become criminalised?
Lenny, Wales

The BBC's television output may range from awful to outstanding, but BBC News online is the single best news website in the world, and for that alone it is worth the money.
James McEnaney, Scotland

The BBC doesn't offer value for money at all. I get tired of wall-to-wall DIY and home improvement shows. That's not to mention the fact that the BBC hasn't produced a decent fresh, new sitcom in the last ten years. Therefore all we get to see are repeats of One Foot in the Grave. They might have been funny when they were first made, but they have not aged well. I can't remember the last time I watched anything on BBC2. Abolish the licence fee and give us all an extra 100 beer money a year! Either that or EARN your keep!
Dave, UK

Increasingly a commercial organisation
Lee, UK
The BBC is increasingly a commercial organisation, seeking to make money from its output worldwide. Programme schedules also seem to be more concerned with ratings battles with other commercial channels and less about quality programming.
Lee, UK

I would like to say that the BBC's licence fee is the only tax that I am more than willing to pay. My family and I use a lot of its services daily, simply because of the exceptional quality of its output, from Radio 4's Today programme to CBeebies, and the associated websites. Oh, and may Andrew Gilligan continue to be the excellent journalist that he is, I listened to THE original report of his that started the recent arguments, and I thought that he was ever so careful and responsible in what was clearly a difficult subject. Well done BBC.
Simon Johnston, UK

I watch BBC America because I like to know what's going on in England. I would like to see documentaries and British news. Instead we get endless episodes of Home Invaders, Changing Rooms, Ground Force, and What Not to Wear (the latter from the two most unstylish people I've ever seen!). There have been petitions circulating online to get BBC America to change its ways. They don't seem to want to listen. I'm sure a substantial chunk of the "record 147m" they've made came from BBC America fees (we have to watch advertising, unlike the BBC in the UK).
Helen, US, formerly UK

I am at present in Denver, USA on business. Long may the BBC remain tax-funded, advert-free and independent. TV over here is truly awful and, whilst I can see British commercial TV leaning towards the rubbish served up here, I hope there is always a BBC maintaining its values and authority.
Frank Roebuck, England

It goes so far beyond the shores of the UK
Rachel, USA (ex UK)
The BBC provides a much needed service to the rest of the world - it goes so far beyond the shores of the UK. I think it is unfair to have the people of the UK pay for the BBC on the basis of owning a television set when the owners of radios and computers have no financial obligation. How about a system of charitable donations like the Public Broadcasting Service has in the US? Many families do actually voluntarily donate to charities that provide necessary services to the public.
Rachel, USA (ex UK)

I'm tired of being forced to pay for the privilege of being lied to about the EU. The BBC was apparently bought long ago by Brussels, and has parroted their line ever since. Quite a bargain for them, I'd say.
Egon, UK

Absolutely. When discussing the merits of a license fee people only ever look at the performance of the public broadcaster itself. I believe a very important part is that the BBC keeps the commercial broadcasters on their toes as well. Just look at the US, which is full of over-commercialised channels with few ideas. And Australia scrapped its license fee and started funding the ABC through general taxation. Now the ABC is chronically under-funded and the commercial stations just import programmes from the US.
Did, UK

The cost of the BBC equates to almost half the recent road building programme, half the cost of maintaining the rail network nationally or about a quarter of the cost of a SKY subscription individually. Comparatively not bad value! The problem is the licence fee itself is an outdated and unfair way to pay, collecting payment whether or not you are a viewer and allowing the BBC to be complacent about income streams.
Matt, UK

I fail to understand why English correspondents are sent to cover stories in Scotland which are already being dealt with by Scottish correspondents. Why not save money by avoiding this duplication and allow "local" reporters to appear on the "national" news?
Louise Cockburn, Scotland

We don't have Freeview or satellite TV, but we do have digital radio and I think the BBC is worth the licence fee for its radio and online output alone! No other broadcaster provides the diversity that BBC radio does and at such consistent high quality.
Lee, Gloucester, England.

The BBC represents excellent value for money
Martin, England
I am more than happy to pay the license fee in return for both no adverts and enabling the BBC to make specialist commercially unviable programmes. As such the BBC represents excellent value for money. I'd happily pay an extra 100/year to Sky + ITV if it would cut the adverts out of their broadcasts.
Martin, England

Well if DIY, gardening, home improvements and any other house-based programmes are your thing then I think the BBC offers incredible value for money. Otherwise....
Ross, UK

How about a lot less drama,'docudrama' and general dumbed-down pap and some more documentaries with real substance? Whatever happened to BBC2?
Karen Ma, UK

The BBC is the only large organisation I know of which does an excellent job over a vast range of activities, defines the word "British" by its very existence, and for which we should thank God everyday.
Paul, UK

What the BBC offers is River City. Get this trash off our Scottish TV's and then we can consider value for money!
C. Stewart, UK





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