Monday, May 11, 2015

John Whittingdale on the BBC

Extracts from our new Culture Secretary's speech, when presenting the DCMS Select Committee report on the "Future of The BBC" in February...

"When we looked at the scale of the BBC—what the BBC does—we were unconvinced by the argument that it should continue to try to provide something for everyone. Instead, we say that its principal focus should be on its public service remit and that it should not be afraid to do less when the market is clearly providing a lot of existing content."

"It has decided to make BBC3 a purely online service, which we generally support."

 "We welcome moves to remove the in-house production guarantee and to open up all BBC commissioning to competition. We also support allowing a separate BBC production house to compete for commissions from other broadcasters."

 "We want more partnership and collaboration with the private sector, and we specifically want more support for local media.... perhaps by using some licence fee payers’ money for local media and by extending the independent production quota to cover local news."

 "The Trust should be abolished and replaced by a unitary board with a non-executive chairman and a majority of non-executive directors.... there could be a smaller public service broadcasting commission to scrutinise the overall strategic plan of the BBC and assess performance, as well as to determine public funding and perhaps withhold it, in the event of failure."

 "The National Audit Office should be given unfettered access. We also believe that Ofcom should have responsibility for all content regulation."

 "The licence fee is simple and universal, and it arguably maintains arm’s length independence from the Government, but it is regressive, compulsory and expensive to collect, so we considered various alternatives. In the short term, we found that there is no realistic alternative to some form of licence fee or household tax. "

 "In the longer term, we think that, as viewing habits change, the licence fee becomes harder to sustain and justify, and that we should at least consider introducing an element of subscription to give viewers the choice of whether they wish to subscribe to all the BBC’s services. There would still need to be public finance for the core services—radio, news, public service programming—but the more premium content would be available as a matter of choice for the viewer through a subscription model."

 "It is an important principle that, where possible, people should be able to choose whether to pay".

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