IT is widely reported that the future of the BBC hangs in the balance, that payment of the licence fee will in future be effectively optional and that the funding model is being reviewed.

There is a case for a slimmed-down BBC. Does it need so many channels, so many radio stations? Does it need to be all things to all men, especially as many of the programmes it produces are well-enough covered by commercial stations?

What television services does the BBC provide that are not provided by others? News, nature and science, political investigations, serious music. Some of these are indeed covered by other commercial outlets but not with the same independence, nor quality. Could this unique output not be well enough provided for on just two channels, BBC 1 and 2?

What do its radio stations offer uniquely? Serious music certainly, light music, literature, witty and entertaining comedy, news. Certainly not popular music which is covered by a host of others. Could not this content be contained within two or possibly three channels?

The sticky question is funding. A licence fee ensures independence. Taxation pretty well guarantees political interference. A subscription service? Well, maybe this is the way forward and maybe it might be a lot cheaper than the present licence fee. That would rather depend on the readiness of management to address the problem of not only gender pay but the size of the grotesque salaries it pays some of its staff.

The BBC clearly needs to change its funding and service provision but, above all, it must preserve its independence.

Trevor Rigg, Edinburgh EH10.

SO Lord Hall is to jump the BBC ship and become the next chairman of the board of trustees of the National Gallery ("BBC chief quits for National Gallery", The Herald, January 21). Bully for him. Given the current state of the corporation one inevitably thinks of rats and sinking ships.

The BBC has been living off its reputation for far too long. Its attitude to criticism is nowhere better illustrated than in its mule-like resistance to broaden its Thought For The Day slot to include more philosophic viewpoints and less faith-based viewpoints. During the run-up to the election, the so-called "forensic" style used by presenters on the Today and PM programmes – their aggressive stance and constant interruptions bordering on interrogation, not conversation – contributed nothing to intelligent discourse. The relentless self-advertising of Radio 4 programmes matches anything on commercial stations.

Poll after poll has revealed that the younger generation has neither love nor use for the corporation and its output. Everything has its time, and perhaps we should just accept the fact that the BBC has reached its sell-by date.

Doug Clark, Currie.