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BBC Trust launches ‘its largest’ TV service review – into BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four

September 24th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

The BBC Trust today launched ‘the largest and most significant service review’  of television that is has ever undertaken, and seeks views on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four. A 12 week public consultation is now underway.

“This forms part of the Trust’s regular series of reviews and will be the largest and most significant service review the Trust has undertaken. BBC One and BBC Two are the two most popular services that the BBC operates. It will be the first time that the Trust has looked at these services,” said Diane Coyle, BBC Trustee, who is leading the review.

The review will look at all content on the channels including news and nations and regions output, the Trust outlined. The BBC News Channel and BBC Parliament will be examined in the future.

The public can share their views at this link…

The BBC Trust was yesterday criticised by MPs’ in a select committe report, over the body’s handling of the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Last week the culture minister, Ben Bradshaw, speaking at last week’s Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, said there could be a case for a ’smaller licence fee’ and also suggested that the BBC Trust model is not ‘sustainable’.

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BBC Trust responds to MPs’ accusations over commercial expansion

September 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism

As reported by the Guardian, a report published today by the House of Commons culture select committee criticises the ‘arrogance’ of the BBC Trust and the BBC for brushing off MPs’ concerns over the expansion of the BBC’s commercial activities, particularly BBC Worldwide’s acquisition of Lonely Planet. In the report’s conclusions the committee stated:

“The purchase of Lonely Planet remains the most egregious example of the nature of BBC Worldwide’s expansion into areas where the BBC has no, or very limited existing interests. Had the BBC Trust been a more responsible oversight body, it would have given more serious consideration to the likely impact on the commercial sector. We can only speculate as to why it did not.

“Our report demonstrated that, in terms of public disclosure of the financial details of the Lonely Planet purchase, the BBC was certainly not as transparent as it claimed to us to have been. The BBC’s arrogance demonstrated in much that it presented in its case to us in this respect, and in the way that it ignored this aspect in its response, is self-defeating in terms of the preservation of its public reputation.”

The criticisms follow culture minister Ben Bradshaw’s comments at last week’s Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge: he said there could be a case for a ’smaller licence fee’ and also suggested that the BBC Trust model is not ‘sustainable’.

In response to today’s report, the BBC Trust said it had been carrying out its own review of the BBC’s commercial services, the completion of which has been delayed ‘until there is greater clarity around the Digital Britain report’. The Trust announced changes to BBC Worldwide’s governance which were reported to the committee last week, it said. “These changes addressed a number of the issues to which the committee’s latest report refers,” it claimed.

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The NUJ’s economic stimulus plan for local journalism – can it work?

June 9th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Journalism

With Andy Burnham’s still-warm seat now occupied by former BBC journalist Ben Bradshaw, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has wasted no time in sending an open letter to the new culture minister with an ‘economic stimulus plan for local media’.

The eight-point plan:

  1. Reform of cross-media ownership rules with a strengthened public interest test;
  2. Hard and fast commitment to ring-fence licence fee funding for the BBC;
  3. A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production;
  4. Tax breaks for local media who meet clearly defined public purposes;
  5. Tax credits for individuals who buy quality media;
  6. Direct support to help establish new genuinely local media organisations;
  7. Strategic use of central and local government advertising;
  8. Support for training opportunities that open access to journalism.

The full plan can be downloaded at this link.

Some initial thoughts (please get in touch with any of your reactions, either below or in an email to laura@journalism.co.uk):

  • How will ‘quality’ content be defined for points three and five?
  • There’s a long-running union battle against council-run newspapers, which point seven clearly addresses
  • Licence fee funding – is the BBC friend or foe to local media? Newspaper groups decried the BBC’s local video project and often criticise the ‘special way’ in which the corporation is funded; how will the union’s suggestion sit with them?
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Ofcom will not investigate ITV over Britain’s Got Talent

June 2nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

According to this report on MediaGuardian, industry regulator Ofcom will not investigate ITV, despite receiving a ‘large number of complaints’ about Britain’s Got Talent – in particular the appearance of runner-up, Susan Boyle, in the final.

Speaking to a House of Commons select committee on press standards earlier today, culture minister Barbara Follett argued that Ofcom should hold informal talks with ITV over the incident.

This is a very difficult judgment, said Follett, exacerbated by the new media landscape.

“I first heard of Susan Boyle in the US, through YouTube. YouTube had brought her to the attention of the television networks,” said Follett.

With the advent of the internet, what you do in this room can be around the world in ’24 minutes’, argued Follett.

“Your [the broadcaster's] duty of care is greater (…) She [Boyle] didn’t choose the effects, she wasn’t aware of the effects. She has been a victim of the changes that this committee has discussed,” she said.

“The beast that is the 24-hour news cycle has got much bigger in the last 20 years. The appetite of the beast is insatiable yet (…) they’re [media organisations] having to possibly chase after that food in a slightly more proactive way than they would have had to before.”

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