Tag Archives: public service broadcasting

BBC must return to Reithian values, says Bakewell

The BBC can only be saved by a rediscovery of the values that John Reith placed on public service broadcasting, Dame Joan Bakewell counselled at an event on Wednesday.

Bakewell warned that broadcasters have a responsibility to look back to the ethos of the ‘golden age’ of public service broadcasting of the 1960s in order to deal with the challenges presented by multiplying competition.

“At a time when so many other institutions, financial, parliamentary, are deeply flawed, the battered and tattered ideals of public service broadcasting survive. If a societal consciousness is creeping back into public affairs, then now is the time to celebrate public service broadcasting and see it flourish again,” she said.

Bakewell described Public Service Broadcasting as the ‘lynchpin’ of Britain’s culture and democracy and argued that it must have the courage of its own judgments in order to survive as the ‘bedrock on which the BBC’s worldwide reputation relies’.

Her reflections came in the form of the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture, which she delivered to an audience made up of journalists and students at City University in London.

Gary Younge, the US-based Guardian reporter and columnist, was presented with the James Cameron Memorial Award for his reporting written with ‘passion and compassion’ in the run up to the election of Barack Obama.

Younge’s nod to Kanye West’s recent faux pas at the MTV Video Music Awards had the room in fits of giggles. “Beyonce was the greatest writer of all time,” he said.

Also posthumously honoured with a special award for those who fight to hold those in power to account was Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered in January. As editor of Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader he was known as a forceful critic of the challengers to liberal democracy.

Wickrematunge wrote a ‘living obituary’ predicting his own death as a result of his work as a journalist shortly before his murder. Sonali Wickrematunge, Lasantha’s wife, said that the award would serve as ‘a beam of hope for those who continue to risk their life for the truth’.

Digital Spy: Viewer rating of PSB goes up; programming hours down, says Ofcom

In 2008 63 per cent of viewers saw public service broadcasting (PSB) channels in the UK as ‘well-produced and high quality’, new figures from industry regulator Ofcom suggest.

But funding for original programming and the number of programming hours fell year-on-year in 2008, its third annual PSB report suggested.

Full post at this link…

Channel 4 (part 2): Duncan says channel is still key source of cutting-edge content

Channel 4 CEO Andy Duncan also said at yesterday’s Communications Committee in the House of Lords that:

  • Channel 4 is fulfilling its role as a Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) by functioning as a gateway to new talent, innovative programming and contemporary content.
  • Commercial television was simply unable to invest in or provide the content Channel 4 is recognised for.
  • However, when challenged about the function of programming such as Endemol’s ‘Big Brother’, Duncan was forced to concede that it served more as a source of income than it did as the ground breaking concept it was billed as 10 years ago.
  • Digital channels such as E4 and 4Music were hailed as some of Channel 4’s more recent successes. Despite this, it remained unclear as to how these services were able to fit within the remit of Public Service Broadcasting. Current PSB legislation was ‘archaic’ in this respect, Duncan said. In addition, he said, online services such as Channel 4 Learning showed their requirements as a PSB had evolved successfully beyond the original vision of the law makers.

Ofcom’s PSB review – a round-up

In its public service broadcasting (PSB) blueprint, UK industry regulator Ofcom made a series of recommendations for Channel 4, the BBC and ITV – there’s a video explaining the report on Ofcom’s YouTube channel, but for those of you wanting something more textual here’s our round-up:

Key points:

  • There needs to be alternative public services to the BBC – echoing Lord Carter’s comments last week
  • More choice for regional news consumers
  • Retention of the licence fee and no top-slicing
  • News content for ITV and Five, but limit level of public service commitments

Recommendations were given for each of the UK’s broadcasters in turn, but given news this week of potential mergers with Five or the BBC and yesterday’s pledge to invest £500 million in regional production and programming, here’s a synopsis of the points directed at Channel 4:

  • “A new organisation, with public purposes at its heart, should be established; Channel 4 is well-placed to be central to this.” This could potentially be funded by a chunk of the £130m-a-year BBC licence fee digital switchover surplus.
  • Full range of digital content and news and programmes from outside of London needed
  • Merger with BBC Worldwide, Five or other organisations not ruled out, but “[P]artnerships should complement market provision and ensure economic sustainability, accountability, choice and competition. New governance and accountability arrangements would be essential.” (Report from Telegraph.co.uk, says Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said there is ‘more of a tension’ surrounding a possible deal with Five)

Following the regulator’s market impact assessment late last year, which formed part of the BBC Trust’s decision to reject local online video plans, the report also reviewed PSB in the nations and regions:

  • Potentially good news for local newspapers in England (welcomed by the Newspaper Society) – “Ofcom believes that the Government should plan for an alternative way of securing regional news for the devolved nations and English regions from 2011”.
  • Plans for ITV and BBC to share some resources and infrastructure in England will be reviewed – in particular, how sustainable this model is.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed concerns over Ofcom’s recommendations for ITV Local – suggesting a deal had already been agreed between the channel and regulator rendering a consultation on cuts to its local news provision meaningless.

“Ofcom has presented its proposals as a framework for saving public service broadcasting, but the reality is that this report has given ITV the go-ahead to cut its local output. It means fewer local news programmes and fewer local stories. As hundreds of editorial staff walk out of the door, they’ll be taking the links between ITV and local communities with them. That’s hardly in the interests of citizens and viewers,” said a statement by the union.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, gives his thoughts on the review in this Comment is Free article and on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.