Posts Tagged ‘ofcom psb review’

OFCOM PSB Review 10:”A Strange and Brittle set of Words”

October 15, 2008

Words and their interpretation are important. 

As seen in this Guardian article  featuring Sir Michael Lyons.

He added that when he read Ofcom’s second public service broadcasting review, published last month, he found the “wording relating to transferring Worldwide to Channel 4 … extraordinary”.

“At one point even [Ofcom chief executive] Ed Richards said of the wording he didn’t have responsibility for it … it’s a strange and brittle set of words,” Lyons said.

When asked what the BBC’s lawyers thought of the option of giving Channel 4 a slice of BBC Worldwide, he added: “My understanding is that it [Worldwide] can only be changed by statute and that would require public debate about whether or not that’s the right thing to do. Worldwide belongs to licence fee payers, not Ofcom and not the government either.”.

As I’ve said before interpreting legal documents may seem boring – but asking people precisely what they mean and to define their terms can be revealing.


OFCOM PSB Review 8: “Core Purposes?”

August 29, 2008

I was interested to read this article from Tim Gardham of OFCOM in the Telegraph.

In particular this sentence;

“Ofcom has outlined a range of options, from the evolution of the status quo to alternative funding models. One option would be a fund available to commercial public service broadcasters to ensure future competitiveness in PSB without calling on the Treasury or taking from the BBC one single penny of the licence fee needed for its core purposes.”

It’s nice to read something that appears so supportive of the BBC.

But what does the qualification “needed for its core purposes” mean?

The BBC doesn’t have “core purposes”. According to the BBC’s Charter and agreement it has “public purposes”: I quote:

“The BBC’s main activities should be the promotion of its Public Purposes through the provision of output which consists of information, education and entertainment…”

The BBC’s public purposes are defined as: 

sustaining citizenship and civil society;
promoting education and learning;
stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK;

I hope OFCOM are not trying to start a debate about the BBC’s purposes as a way of taking away licence fee money from things which OFCOM thinks are not “core” e.g. entertainment. High quality entertainment programmes clearly stimulate “creativity and cultural excellence”.

What are these “core purposes” Tim mentions?

Postscript (1st September). And if Tim is thinking (as has already been suggested by OFCOM) that the money in the current licence fee settlement which has been earmarked to help digital switchover isn’t part of the BBC’s “core purposes”, then he should look at the very next clause in the Charter;

(f ) in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the
benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and, in
addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.

Surely this money is supporting the public purpose outlined in f)? And surely that public purpose is just as important as the others?

OFCOM PSB Review 7: Read The Documents

July 30, 2008

Me responding to Roy Greenslade in the Guardian.

Ofcom PSB Review 5: “Deja Vu”

June 11, 2008

A reminder in case one was needed: these are my personal views.

Follow these links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

So after a brief musical interlude, a lie down, some biscuits and a spot of argy bargy let’s concentrate our minds and focus again on Ofcom’s review of Public Service Broadcasting.

Particularly as all suggestions, submissions and windy rhetoric has to be submitted by June 19th so I’d better hurry up.

Next I read the research called “The audience’s view on the future of Public Service Broadcasting” done by Mori. I read the executive summary and section 7 “The provision of Public Service Broadcasting in the future”.

I had a curious feeling of deja vu. I’ve read this kind of research before.

People are happy with the public service television they have at the moment. That’s logical because what they get is pretty good.

But there is an elephant in the room. They really like the idea of high end public service TV like documentaries and current affairs. They think it’s a social/public good. They want it to continue. But they don’t actually want to watch it – at least not in large enough numbers to make it commercially viable.

The report doesn’t really spell this out but you get hints of it in statements like:

“Some participants were concerned solely with their own viewing enjoyment and believed their personal needs would be better met by programmes that catered for the majority”.

So we have a paradox. People really want something to continue but are not prepared to put enough eyeballs across it. So the state has to intervene somehow? Or does it?

Younger audiences (who are using the internet more) are less interested in certain kinds of content on television. That may not mean they don’t want public service content.

The instinctive reaction of regulators is to react defensively and try and protect television.

But what if television isn’t the best medium for fulfilling certain public service purposes? What if the internet is actually better at say providing news and current affairs than TV? Does it matter if TV has a bit less PSB content if that gap is taken up by other mediums? What if the real problem is findability not content?

The research at the end of the document about willingness to pay (figure 7.2) is also being interpreted in a rather over generous way.

Overall, however, the main conclusion for the majority was that these choices were extremely hard and that people preferred to see an increase in costs to maintain current levels of provision.

You could equally argue that the research shows that roughly half of those surveyed did not want to pay more unless they were forced to.

OFCOM PSB Review 4: “Has Anyone Got Any Better Ideas?”

May 22, 2008

From OFCOM’s PSB review blog:

It was also apparent at the Westminster Media Forum seminar that there is a certain appeal and natural tendency to focus this debate on the future use of the licence fee. While that is obviously understandable given its legacy and its vocal supporters, it would be short-sighted to ignore the many other alternative funding sources that are available – if indeed, it is deemed by Parliament necessary to find money at all.

Direct funding, indirect benefits like access to spectrum, and levies on industry can and do already work as ways of funding public service broadcasting around the world. It would be good to see as much focus on these issues as has been given to the licence fee in this debate.

Indeed. See my anguished appeal here.

“Top-slicing the Beeb: Clueless execs get busy”

May 15, 2008

Funny if rather cruel article from the Register.