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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Want to know what the BBC's real problem is? My son.

Went to the recording of the Media Show's debate on the future of the BBC, chaired in exemplary fashion by Steve Hewlett. It's here.

I came away thinking these things are a ritual dance.  James Purnell, the Corporation's director of strategy, makes exaggerated claims for the unique quality of BBC output; Trevor Kavanagh, leader writer for The Sun, makes equally exaggerated claims for the damage the BBC supposedly does to the rest of the media landscape. All the panellists are asked what will happen in twenty years time. None of them really know.

The people who will ultimately decide about the licence fee are not the people on stage or the politicians or the loyalists in the audience in the BBC Radio Theatre. They will be people like my son.

He's just moved into his own flat, has no intention of getting a TV and gets his TV pictures from Netflix, You Tube and various time-shift platforms, watching them on a laptop. If he has a preference it's for American drama and comedy, which the BBC seems to have cleansed from its output, and big sport, which has all gone to Sky or BT.

I'm sure he's not the only one. This is a different generation which has grown up in a radically different climate. (As Greg Dyke said in the debate, last time the BBC's Charter was discussed, back in 1990, there was not a single mention of the internet.) The BBC doesn't figure in the life of this generation as much as it likes to think it does.