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BBC is poor value for money, say Northern Ireland viewers

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 15/07/2016

Report: Aideen McGinley
Report: Aideen McGinley

More than half of viewers in Northern Ireland believe that the BBC does not deliver good value for money.

People here are "significantly less likely" to see the £145.50-a-year TV licence fee as worth it, a report concluded.

Only 46% are satisfied, compared to a UK average of 57%.

Any sense that money is being wasted is "sorely felt", the body which represents the BBC's audience said.

The poll led to calls for the broadcaster to put more effort into showing viewers it delivers value for money.

"The BBC has delivered many improvements, independently assessed, in value for money over the last Charter period, particularly in areas which most frustrated audiences, such as senior management pay, talent costs and overheads," said Aideen McGinley, chair of the Audience Council Northern Ireland.

"However, our discussions with licence fee-payers are a reminder that any sense of waste or loose stewardship of public money continues to be sorely felt, even by people who are high consumers of the BBC's services.

"The BBC must be challenged to provide and to demonstrate value for money at every level."

The details emerged as the BBC's annual report and the BBC Audience Council Northern Ireland's annual review were released to the public.

The council represents the views and interests of audiences in Northern Ireland to the governing BBC Trust.

Over the past year, the Audience Council held 12 events and discussions with BBC audiences, with hundreds of people sharing their views on the broadcaster.

A purpose remits survey, commissioned by the BBC Trust, stated: "Views on whether the television licence fee offers value for money have remained consistent in Northern Ireland, but a majority of people think it does not offer good value.

"Some 46% think that it does offer value for money, which is a slight increase on the 2014 score, while 51% think it does not.

"People in Northern Ireland are significantly less likely to think that the television licence fee offers good value for money than the UK as a whole (46% compared to 57%).

"In particular, people in England (58%) and Wales (62%) are more likely to say that the licence fee offers good value for money."

The report also claimed views on the value for money offered by the licence fee were closely related to consumption of BBC services. The more BBC content a person consumes, the more likely they are to think it provides a good service, it explained.

A BBC Spokesperson said: “Providing value for money for the licence fee payer is one of the most important things we do and informs everything we do - for 40 pence a day per household, the BBC provides a wide range of services across television, radio and online.

"Appreciation of BBC television is higher in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK but we're committed to better serving each of the nations, and have set out plans to improve our offer in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales so we better reflect each nation to itself and the rest of the UK."

The Belfast Telegraph has previously reported on the BBC's reluctance to disclose the costs of producing its output.

In April, the broadcaster refused to state how many staff from Northern Ireland were travelling to France to cover the Euro 2016 football tournament.

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