BBC news: Beeb won’t make shows for older people – but pumps £40m into channel for young | UK | News

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The over-50s age group are instead now being encouraged to enjoy shows made for a “general audience”. The broadcaster is also spending a further £40million on the programme for BBC Three, with the channel’s remit to provide “innovative programming” to a target audience for viewers aged 16-24 years old. The latest twist in the BBC’s policy for older viewers emerged following a letter from Director-General Tim Davie to a licence fee payers, with the viewer complaining that older people were poorly represented by the broadcaster.

In the letter to Mr Davie, the viewer accused the BBC of taking its older viewers for granted.

The viewer wrote: “I’m 55, and often roll my eyes when I see the iPlayer and BBC Sounds homepages, focusing as they seem to do on encouraging younger consumers with shows aimed at them, and photos of twenty-somethings listening to programmes or podcasts.”

“If the Corporation is keen on fairness and inclusivity, perhaps representing those who are major consumers of television would be a good place to start.”

Mr Davie handed the letter to the BBC’s Audience Services department, which said it was replying on behalf of the Corporation’s management.

The response to the viewer said: “As you’ll appreciate, with an audience of many millions across the whole of the UK, we cannot possibly cater successfully for all individual tastes at all times, and enjoyment is a very personal matter.

“We find that tastes in older age groups vary just as much as those in any other age range – for example, some older viewers prefer quizzes, soaps and lighter programmes whilst others prefer more cultural or factual programmes.

“This being the case, there simply isn’t a typical programme or range of shows that would appeal specifically to older audiences, and that’s why our television channels and radio stations and the information on our website is for a general audience.

“We’re a general broadcaster so by definition our approach has to be general and broad, so there needs to be a degree of compromise.”

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The department added in its response that audience research and feedback suggested that audiences are “comfortable and happy” with this approach.

But the response to this query on older audiences from the BBC has sparked a backlash from a senior member of the Conservative Party Government.

Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, said: “It seems like a bizarre and inadequate explanation. I can understand how they [the complainant] feel because there is definitely a feeling among many people that the BBC has left them behind a bit.

“It isn’t just an age thing but a cultural thing. Parts of the country feel that – the north and the regions.

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“I am encouraged that the new director-general has some idea that this is a problem but, judging by the response, it looks like many others in the organisation have a long way to go.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “Older people are extraordinarily well served by a BBC that offers something for everyone across TV, radio and online – our aim is to reach and reflect all audiences, and more than 90% of UK adults use the BBC each week.”

Charlie Higson, the writer who co-starred in The Fast Show sketch programme, had earlier accused the BBC of stereotyping older viewers.

He told the Radio Times: “The BBC is forever tying itself in knots about the ageing demographic of its viewers, and some younger executives seem to think that us ‘old’ people only want to watch gardening programmes, re-runs of All Creatures Great and Small and documentaries about Vera Lynn. Or tanks.”

Recently, it was announced BBC Four, the channel attracting its oldest audience, is becoming a repeats channel while investment was being diverted to BBC, which will return as a fully-fledged TV channel in January 2022, six years after it moved online.

Last year, the BBC said research it had conducted showed there was a “strong case” for BBC Three to return as a regular TV channel to focus on younger audiences.

BBC’s chief content officer Charlotte Moore said: “The BBC needs to back success and make sure its programmes reach as many young people as possible wherever they live in the UK,” said the

“So regardless of the debates about the past, we want to give BBC Three its own broadcast channel again.”

But DCMS chair Mr Knight claimed the move showed the BBC had “failed” those viewers.

He said: “I question whether putting the clock back five years is the right way to win over 18-35s.”



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