The investigation by Ciaran McGrath, journalist for the Daily Express, was two-pronged: to shed light on how much the public broadcaster had spent to design the logos and the pressure on the over 75s to pay the licence fee, from which they were previously exempt

It took a good investigation by the Daily Express to bring to light how much the BBC had spent on the ‘digital rebranding’ of its TV and digital channels. A six-figure sum, over £7 million, strenuously denied perhaps because it was difficult to justify, given the painful cuts made by the public broadcaster, such as the closure of many regional branches passed off as a ‘reshaping of the offer’. The BBC put up a wall for months, despite the fact that the newspaper invoked the Freedom of Information Act, a law that has guaranteed the right of access to information held by public authorities since 2000. So, in the end, the Daily Express submitted a formal complaint to the ICO (an independent body that upholds information rights in the UK) and at that point, the BBC capitulated: eight months had passed.

Too much opacity

Silver Voices is an organization founded to convey the views of the over the 60s to political parties to improve legislation and society

The opinions collected by the Daily Express seep into the arrogance of the public broadcaster and its opacity. As in the speech by Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, a not-for-profit organisation of over-60s that aims to convey their opinions to political parties to improve legislation. According to Reed, the £7,261,039 spent could have cleared 45,000 subscription fees for the public broadcaster, thus helping most families with an elderly person with dementia, or relieving those struggling with energy bill payments. The BBC has also been reticent with Silver Voices, which, when asked how many over-75s previously exempt from the license fee had come clean, denied having a list. Yet, Reed points out, families who should be regularised continue to receive regular threatening letters ordering them to pay up. Let us hope, therefore, that light will be shed on this too.

Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini


Understanding how the public broadcasting system works in Germany
The article on the Deutsche Welle website reconstructs the evolution of the public media system in Germany

The scandal of Patricia Schlesinger, director of the Berlin public broadcaster RBB Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (illicit reimbursements and a rich consultancy to her husband) has been ridden by the right wing, but even some government parties are talking about reforming the public media. There are 21 television and 83 radio stations in the country, which share 8 billion in license fees (each household pays 18.36 euros per month). Deutsche Welle (financed by the federal government, however, not by the license fee) reconstructs the evolution of the German radio and television system: from the first stations opened in the four occupation zones (into which the country was divided after the Second World War) to the subsequent development and the emergence of new stations after reunification, and up to the present day. The topic of public funding and the credibility of information is also addressed: despite the scandal, 70% of citizens (2020 data) trust the public media. Here you can read the full article, in English.

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