Sunday, November 6, 2016

Formal proposals

Just some odds and ends on the current "Compete and Compare"implementation row in BBC Radio, which must be leaving Culture Secretary Karen Bradley very confused.

This is what the draft framework agreement between the BBC and the DCMS says, to be appended to the new Charter.

The BBC must secure competition between BBC producers and external producers (whether independent producers or not) as follows- .... 

(b) in relation to making relevant radio programmes the BBC must secure competition for at least 60% of Total Relevant Broadcasting Time by 31st December 2022. 

This is what Lord Hall said back in July 2014, when the sensible voices of radio were still holding out against James Purnell and a wholesale "Compete and Compare" operation on national radio networks.  

With compete or compare, competition should go beyond television production. Can we extend competitive access for independent producers in radio, if that will mean broader choice and better ideas? The market is completely different, of course. The global opportunity is much more limited and commercial radio commissions almost nothing from the sector.

And this is what Helen Boaden said in June 2015 - when she was still Director of Radio. 

Subject to the endorsement of the BBC executive board and the BBC Trust, we are ready to make a commitment that within six years of implementing our proposals, around 60 percent of eligible network radio hours will have been opened up to competition. This means we expect that the number of eligible hours open to competition between in-house and indies will increase threefold from 9,000 hours now to around 27,000 hours at the end of the six year period. 

The only note of concern in the Charter renewal debate came from the BBC Trust, in a submission to Government... 

A significant increase in the independent production quota would not be in the interest of licence fee payers as it could lead to a position where the BBC is forced to commission ideas externally simply to comply with a quota rather than selecting the best ideas regardless of source....

The Trust is concerned that the BBC Executive proposals may involve significant additional costs both in terms of implementation and administration. At this stage, the BBC Executive have not been able to narrow down the range of potential costs nor identify how these might be funded. If the necessary funds had to come from BBC Radio, programming budgets would be likely to be affected calling into question whether the reform would be value for money for the licence fee payer. 

When we receive formal proposals from the BBC we will want to test them to make sure that any changes are made at a pace that delivers the best results for listeners.

Anyone see more formal proposals ?  Over to you, Jimmy.

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