ICM poll reveals public views on BBC programmes

MUMBAI: A lot of television viewers in the UK (58 per cent) think the BBC's programmes are similar to those on other broadcasters. Support for the BBC as an institution in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry remains strong, with 68 per cent believing that the BBC is an institution to be proud of, says a survey conducted by ICM.

The special What's the point of the BBC? aired on Sunday on BBC One. In a major studio debate the broadcaster's acting DG Mark Byford fielded tough questions from a UK audience and a panel of the BBC's friends and critics.

The poll found that that 37 per cent of those surveyed thought that the BBC's programmes are distinctive to other broadcasters. The charge was also made in the programme by veteran BBC broadcaster Sir David Attenborough who claimed that the range of programmes was no longer wide enough.

He said, "I think that the pendulum swung in the last five years or so a bit towards the popular and away from the more specialised. I think there are great areas of drama which it doesn't tackle, classical drama of one sort or another. Science has one programme on BBC but very little on BBC One and science should be at the core of what people should be interested in and be learning about all the time. So if you have three programmes on gardening, then I would suggest you drop one of them, or maybe even two of them and do some of these other things."

The poll also found that public opinion on the future of the funding of the BBC is divided. 31 per cent supported a continuation of the licence fee in its current form. 31 per cent thought that there should be advertising on the corporation's channels while 36 per cent are of the opinion that the corporation should be funded by subscription.

However the poll found that the majority 59 per cent still felt the corporation was good value for money. On the flip side 54 per cent criticised the broadcaster for dumbing down the content.

Television production company Endemol UK's chairman Peter Bazalgette attacked the governance of the BBC on the special. He alluded to the Kelly affair as an "accident waiting to happen" and called for a major shake-up in the governance system, from the cheerful bunch of amateurs to a more independent and professional board including experts on journalism and competition law.

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