‘Alternative funding models’ for BBC Singers being considered

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The BBC has had offers of “alternative funding models” to maintain the closure-threatened BBC Singers, an executive said.

Chief content officer Charlotte Moore told the Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV) spring conference on Thursday that the BBC is committed to being the “greatest champion for classical music”.

She also said: “It has, of course, been a really difficult few months when it comes to the question of how the BBC supports classical music.

“It’s been a fundamental part of our role for over a century and let’s not lose sight of the fact that we remain the biggest commissioner of music in the country, as well as one of the biggest employers of musicians, and we’re determined to keep that role safe.

“All of you are aware of the big picture here, the BBC have undergone a real-terms reduction in our funding over the past 10 years of 30%.”

She added that the corporation has to be open to new ways of “doing things”.

The broadcaster had previously announced plans to scrap its in-house chamber choir the BBC Singers, and reduce salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

Last month, the BBC invited independent experts from across the sector to work with it and the Musicians’ Union on new proposals.

Ms Moore added: “We know just how much the BBC Singers are loved across the classical community, and how admired they are for their professionalism and quality.

“So we’re really pleased that we’ve received approaches from a number of organisations offering alternative funding models. Now we’re looking at those options which, if viable, would secure the future of the ensemble.”

She also announced a new podcast from Kirsty Young, in which the broadcaster will ask people what they would tell their younger self, and History’s Secret Heroes with The Crown actress Helena Bonham Carter.

Earlier, the chairwoman of the House of Lords communications and digital committee, Baroness Tina Stowell, said the TV licence fee could be seen as “increasingly regressive”.

The former leader of the House of Lords said: “When it comes to funding the BBC should be more open to alternatives… the licence fee is not an end in itself.”

She also said that negotiations on the licence fee taking place “behind closed doors” has not helped and there should be a transparent process.

The Conservative peer added: “For national institutions such as the BBC to retain support, we need to see clearly why it remains relevant, and what value it creates for our individual and collective benefit that new or emerging international organisations won’t or can’t.

“I’m confident that there is a positive and compelling case to be made and I really do want to hear it, but laying it out is not the job for politicians. Setting out the case for its future is the responsibility of the BBC.”

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