BBC hits back after Daily Mail article accuses it of 'pointless PR stunt'

The BBC has defended an experiment it carried out to see whether people wanted the corporation to be axed, after Conservative and UKIP MPs branded it as a "pointless PR stunt" and a "cheap propaganda charade" in the Daily Mail.

A BBC building in Salford Quays (credit: Mikey on flickr)
A BBC building in Salford Quays (credit: Mikey on flickr)

In the study, 70 households went without BBC services for over a week. The experiment mainly focused on those who believe the BBC licence fee is too high or want it withdrawn – 48 out of the 70 households wanted to pay no licence fee or a reduced fee, at the start of the experiment.

By the end of the nine-day period two-thirds of the 48 households had changed their mind and said they were willing to pay the full £2.80 per week licence fee.

In an article published in the Daily Mail today, Tory MP Philip Davies described the study as a "pointless PR stunt" while UKIP MP Douglas Carswell added: "If the BBC was so confident that it was good value for money it would stop this cheap propaganda charade."

A BBC source told PRWeek: "This study shows how much the public loves the BBC; but as the Mail is a leading critic of the corporation, it's hardly surprising that it would attempt to pour cold water on the findings."

The study found that households missed advert-free radio and TV and said they were unable to find alternatives to BBC news and current affairs programming such as Panorama and Question Time, when they were deprived of all the BBC services.

A government consultation on the renewal or otherwise of the BBC's Royal Charter closes on 8 October.

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