Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ofcom's second public service broadcasting review

Industry regulator Ofcom has published its second public service broadcasting review.

In summary, we believe that the four top priorities are:

To maintain the BBC’s role and funding for its programmes and services at the heart of the overall system.

To support investment in and wide availability of high quality original programming and UK and international news, by positioning the Channel 3 and Channel 5 services as commercial networks with a limited public service commitment, with modest licence benefits balanced by appropriate obligations on a sustainable basis.

To plan now to ensure the supply of a choice of high quality news alongside the BBC in the devolved nations and English regions. This should include developing proposals for a new approach based on independently funded news consortia.

To ensure there is a financially robust alternative provider of public service content alongside the BBC, with Channel 4 at its heart, preferably based on partnerships, joint ventures or mergers, with the scale necessary to sustain effective delivery of public purposes across digital media. A new remit, governance and accountability will be essential.

We recognise also the value of choice in public service content for children and in the devolved nations. If these needs cannot be met sufficiently by these recommendations then:

Government should consider funding specifically for children’s content, and the case for specific approaches in each of the devolved nations for the delivery of public service content other than news.

There's extensive coverage in Media Guardian and Broadcast with the debate centring on questions that went unanswered by Ofcom, such as who Channel 4 should partner with and how.
The idea of 'top-slicing' the BBC licence fee to pay for other public service broadcasting has been rejected, which is a relief to the Corporation.

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