By: Christopher Kingsley
My blog, Food & Television, was credited expressly for Global News and World Culture 4790 at Middle Tennessee State University. My blog has been centered on the phenomenon of The Great British Bake Off and how it has taken off worldwide and what it continues to bring to the realms of both reality television and cooking. The reason why I chose the topics I did was because I thought they were, at the time, relevant and news worthy. Even at the end of the semester and this wonderful class, BBC is continually in the news.
BBC brings reality TV and food together
An article published in August, 2015 in The Week really does highlight why the show is such a huge, delicious success.
One of the reason that The Great British Bake Off is such a success is pretty simple. According to BBC commissioning editor, Clare Paterson, one of the reasons that the show is such a hit, to her, is that is such a feel good show, “what’s not to like about it? It’s something viewers can sit down and watch with coffee and buns and laugh at the puns. It’s just incredibly lovable. There’s something about it that makes people feel good.”
I also like the fact that the show also demonstrates that people of so many walks of life can bake or become brilliant home bakers. Watching the show and seeing people baking spurs interest and gets people interested in baking. Eleanor Doughty states, “spending time in the kitchen can be hugely therapeutic, and for many, baking is done as ‘therapy’.”
The show is a big influencer. I have found that introducing people to the show has spawned very positive reactions. For example, I introduced both my mother and my husband, Cleve to GBBO when it was first introduced to American audiences on PBS last year. Since watching the fifth season of the show, interest within my own family has taken off. My husband, who works more then seventy hours a week, thoroughly enjoys baking. He has started a blog dedicated to baking his way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible cookbook published by BBC Books, entitled Novice Bakers on WordPress. Even my mother who is extraordinarily busy herself has been persuaded, by the hit show, to go back into the kitchen and start baking again.
Ultimately, I wanted to showcase how wonderfully put together the show truly is. The BBC in many ways is upholding its end of the Royal Charter that Queen Elizabeth II approved of in 2006 that the BBC “…must display at least one of the following characteristics in all content: high quality, originality, innovation, to be challenging and to be engaging.”
I find that GBBO truly hits that on the head. The show is original, innovative, challenging and very engaging. However, the corporation itself is facing a myriad of problems.
BBC’s budget shortfall…..
BBC is facing a budget shortfall of $225 million U.S. dollars due to a gap in license income, due to an, “increase in the number of households saying they do not watch live TV so do not pay for a license.” According to an article on BBC.com, the corporation is facing job cuts and more to shore up the revenue loss.
The BBC also states that, “The BBC license fee of £145.50 has been frozen for seven years, and the process of charter renewal is getting under way, which will decide how the BBC is run when its current royal charter runs out at the end of 2016.”
The BBC also made the decision to give their BBC Three channel the axe. Instead, the channel will be on the internet from February. The channel, which debuted in 2003, has been the home of popular shows like Family Guy and Orphan Black. Taking the channel off the air would result in a 50 percent cut in programming.
Despite a SaveBBC3 petition gaining 300,000 signatures, the powers that be at the BBC confirmed this fall that they would take the channel off the air.
In a proposal from January 2015, the BBC makes it clear the need to reinvent itself, “Younger audiences are increasingly engaging with new forms of content on multiple digital platforms on and off the BBC and it’s vital the BBC develops the skills to produce this content and ensure we can make it available on all relevant third party platforms.” Let’s hope their decision pays off.
BBC’s New Subscription Service, a big gamble.
Over-the-top television is extraordinarily popular and successful. Netflix and Amazon produce extraordinarily popular shows like Netflix House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Amazon’s own Transparent are shows that are prime examples of shows that have given traditional cable companies the slip.
The BBC is breaking down geoblocking for fans in the United States. Announced in September, BBC announced that “over-the-top” video service would be online in 2016, offering “programmes they [Americans] wouldn’t otherwise get – showcasing British actors, our-programme-makers- and celebrating our culture” said BBC director, Lord Tony Hall
One of the biggest concerns I have over the new subscription fee. The Licensing Fee is still active in the UK and according to Lord Hall, “We need to raise commercial income to supplement the license fee so we can invest as much as possible in content for UK audiences, without that income, we can’t continue what we already do for the UK in drama or natural history.” One of my biggest concerns is that if I am interested in the BBC Subscription, will a viewer have full access to the full spectrum of BBC One, Two, Three, etc. I enjoy circumnavigating the British geographic block of my IP and watch BBC content via VPN, because it’s the only real way to watch not only British content that is put online, but also watching it in real-time.
To be perfectly honest, I would gladly pay for a subscription fee for full access to BBC content, however, I do not see that happening any time soon – even with the new subscription service coming online.
What I hope the BBC subscription service will do is, perhaps, alleviate the annoyance that U.S. fans of BBC America feel when they see back-to-back episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation instead of new content that is seen on any of the four BBC television channels.