BBC: Reputation in crisis

Max KowalewskiJunior Research Executive
December 18, 2012, 3:02 PM GMT+0

Following its recent string of crises, the BBC’s reputation amongst opinion formers has dropped sharply, however a majority would still be willing to personally endorse the Corporation.

Our November survey of UK opinion formers, who are influential Britons drawn from politics, business, media, academia, NGOs and the public sector, shows that the series of crises at the BBC in recent months has left a significant dent on its reputation. Prior to the events, a large majority (79%) of respondents would have rated the BBC’s reputation highly, with only 5% saying it had a low reputation.

However, recent events have had a large impact on the Corporation’s standing, and opinion formers are divided on the issue. Only 31% would now rate its reputation high, with over a quarter (26%) saying it is now low, and 43% neutral.

  • Before the BBC's series of crises, over three-quarters (79%) of UK opinion formers would have rated the BBC's reputation highly, compared with less than two in ten (17%) who say its reputation would have been neutral and only 5% saying it had a low reputation
  • In light of recent events, less than a third (31%) of opinion formers would rate the BBC's reputation high, while 25% say it is low, and a plurality (43%) think it is neutral

The poll also reveals some variation between respondents as those who would vote Conservative at the next general election are more likely to rate the BBC’s reputation negatively than their Labour counterparts, both before and after the events.

Endorsing the BBC

Although the number of opinion formers willing to endorse the BBC as an organisation has decreased, a majority (53%) are still willing to endorse the Corporation. Journalists are particularly likely to endorse the organisation, with 62% saying they would be willing to do so now.

  • Prior to recent events, seven in ten (70%) opinion formers claim they would have been willing to endorse the BBC, while only 10% say they were unwilling
  • Since the BBC's string of crises, just over half (53%) are willing to endorse the BBC, compared with a fifth (20%) who are now unwilling to endorse the organisation

Handling the crises

A majority (60%) of opinion formers believe the BBC has handled the situation badly, and less than one in ten (9%) think it has acted well. Labour supporters are less critical of the BBC, with 52% faulting the Corporation’s handling.


Over three-quarters (78%) of opinion formers believe that George Entwistle was right to resign as Director General of the BBC, earlier in November. Those respondents who would vote Conservative are even more likely to see his resignation as appropriate, with 84% agreeing.

  • A strong majority (78%) of opinion formers think George Entwistle should have resigned as Director General of the BBC
  • 17% of opinion formers disagree with this

However, most opinion formers do not think that Entwistle should have received the £450,000 pay-off deal that the BBC Trust revealed that he had received. This general disapproval echoes the opinion former’s belief that the BBC handled the crisis badly seen earlier.

  • Over six in ten (62%) opinion formers disagree with Entwistle being given £450,000, while 30% do think he is right to receive this

See the full survey details and results here