Compulsory charges, advertising and bland content, is this what Parliament holds in store for the BBC?

The BBC, world-renowned for its impartial, high standard journalism. Free from bias, it has given us impartial, slander-free news since 1922. For me, this is a key principle of great journalism.

Unfortunately, this impartiality may now be under threat. In recent weeks, Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has reportedly been in talks with the Murdoch press and plans to ‘cut the heart out of our BBC’, according to 38 Degrees. Unlike many countries, where the media is controlled by the state, it is the role of the British Media, including the BBC, to hold the government to account. While it is not known whether the meeting with Mr Murdoch preceded cuts to the BBC, it is widely suspected that this may have been an influence. So far, Mr Osborne has failed to deny or admit whether this was the case or not. Until we hear otherwise, it seems to have been the attitude of most newspapers to assume that Mr Murdoch has had some influence over the cuts.

For a long time now, most papers have sided with certain political parties, however, for me, it would be a tragedy to see a publicly funded broadcaster go the same way. Ironically, talking of impartiality, I am not, especially on this issue, impartial; however, I don’t work for the BBC. While I accept that final editorial decisions are never going to be taken by politicians, it is a worry that the impact of such huge cuts to the BBC could limit their editorial capabilities. This is something that would worry most people.

While in the near future, the BBC will remain at the standard it has always been, I do think that in the long run, with no doubt further cuts or restrictions to come, it will fail to fulfil its core values. With the BBC’s Royal Charter ultimately at the hands of Parliament, due for renewal at the end of 2016, this is the government’s opportunity to get their way. However, even in a post released on parliament.uk, it says that, ‘the BBC remains widely respected at home and around the world’.

Despite this, I was right to be suspicious about changes that Parliament may make, if given the option. In a section on BBC funding, as well as the license fee that the majority of us pay to get the BBC, other options are listed such as General Taxation, Advertising, Subscription and a Household levy. This would mean that even those who do not use the service would still need to pay. In my opinion, at least three of these options would be a disaster for the way the BBC is funded and run. You can never force someone to pay for something they don’t use. Advertising would ruin the quality that many people value about the BBC, Subscription would not be an awful thing but it would mean that the availability of the service would be restricted considerably and General taxation could lead to a more biased BBC.

Since a petition calling on David Cameron to keep the BBC independent and free from political influence took off on 38 Degrees, it has gathered almost 300,000 signatures from all over the country. The current target is 500,000 and I’m sure that with the backing of many people who want a bias-free, independent broadcaster, we will reach it. For me, I hope that for the foreseeable future, the BBC’s core values will not be threatened. A different way of us paying for the service, I am not against, however, if that is going to mean political bias and advertising, this would not be desirable.