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Stodgy BBC Faults Itself

The British Broadcasting Corp., the world’s best-known pubcaster, has admitted that it needs to try harder if it’s to thrive in the new age of channel choice.

Announcing the findings of a unique 18-month program review, BBC execs, once famed for their arrogance, admitted Feb. 15 that while most Brits value the BBC’s commitment to quality, a significant number feel the pubcaster is out of step with public taste.

Liz Forgan, the head of BBC Radio, who co-chaired the review, said: “The BBC can no longer take the best creative people or our audiences for granted. Without a strong bond with our audiences, we risk self-indulgence and irrelevance.”

BBC channel controller Alan Yentob, Forgan’s partner on the strategy review, went even further when he confessed the organization had been “lazy” in neglecting parts of the audience.

The 177-page review, which analyzes each area of the pubcaster’s output with unusual detail and candor, highlights how the BBC is “alienating” the young, the less well-heeled and those who live furthest away from London.

“The BBC can seem too conservative and highbrow, too much a part of the establishment,” the review admitted in what is an unprecedented voyage into the pubcaster’s tortured soul.

The British are famous for putting themselves down. But there was more: “The young find much of our output middle-aged in tone and subject matter and – disturbingly for an organization that sets so much store by its ability to innovate – think the BBC tends to rely too much on the tried and tested formula.” The BBC announced it is investing £85m ($127.5 million) in new programs aimed at those audiences who feel the BBC is not for them.

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