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On 2 December 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Lord Bragg (Labour) that “this House takes note of the BBC’s value to the United Kingdom and a wider global audience”. 

The BBC is the UK’s main public service broadcaster and a significant contributor to the UK’s creative economy. It is rated highly by UK audiences, being the most-used media brand in the UK in 2020/21; BBC services were used by 90% of adults every week. In 2020, the BBC achieved its highest ever global audience, reaching 486 million people per week. 

Analysis from KPMG shows that the BBC generated almost £5 billion of economic output in the financial year 2019/20. For every £1 of direct economic activity from the BBC, it generated a total of £2.63 of economic output for the UK economy. Approximately half of the BBC’s economic output was generated outside London, particularly in its creative clusters around MediaCity in Salford and in Cardiff. The BBC directly employs over 22,000 people and it has been estimated that for every 1 job it creates, 1.7 jobs are created in the wider UK economy. 

The BBC also faces challenges. Increased competition from on-demand streaming services has impacted its audience share, particularly among young people. The corporation has also faced criticism over alleged bias in its journalism and an alleged lack of diversity in the corporation. 

The BBC faced significant criticism in May 2021, following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report into the circumstances in which Martin Bashir had secured the Panorama interview with Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales in 1995. Following the Dyson report, the BBC commissioned the Serota review, which made recommendations to improve the editorial processes, governance, and culture of the BBC. 

The Government has said that these developments have formed the context in which it is considering potential reforms to the BBC. Following a consultation in 2020, the Government has left open the possibility of future decriminalisation of TV licence fee evasion. The Government has begun negotiations with the BBC over the licence fee settlement from 2022 onwards, which could impact the corporation’s income. The mid-term review of the BBC’s royal charter is also due in 2022.

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