The BBC Trust has today published its Licence Reviews of BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four, setting out the role and purpose of the channels for the next five years. These reviews are designed to ensure that the channels are delivering the BBC's public purposes and providing audiences with the kind of programming they want and expect.
I have written to BBC staff today to explain the findings of the reviews and what they mean to us as programme makers. You can read my letter below. It also contains a link to the Trust reviews. The reviews show that the channels are performing very well but also give us a good indication of what we can do more of.
Today the BBC Trust has published its Licence Reviews of BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four, setting out the role and purpose of the channels for the next five years. These form part of the Trust's regular reviews of all BBC services. As part of the process, we submit reports for each channel that analyse their performance against the Public Purposes and describe our strategy going forward. The BBC Trust also canvasses the views of licence fee payers and the wider industry. You can read the Trust's final conclusions here.
Today's announcements follow the publication of the Trust's interim findings in the summer, which strongly supported the direction of the channels and asked for more detailed plans in a few key areas. Since then, we have been working closely with the Trust, and the positive conclusions of today's report should be seen as an endorsement of the strength and ambition of our plans to deliver even greater quality and originality across our full range of programmes and content.
Overall, the Trust concludes that the BBC's TV portfolio is performing very strongly - on reach, quality and value for money measures, as well as playing a central role in delivery of the Public Purposes to audiences across the UK. The BBC's portfolio of television channels has increased both its reach and share over the past year, more than any other broadcaster. Our audiences tell us that BBC channels lead over other channels for their quality, originality and distinctiveness. Shows currently on-air like Strictly Come Dancing, The Trip, Getting On and Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention demonstrate this in practice. But there are a number of themes which are important to all of us.
Audiences continue to have a strong appetite for "fresh and new ideas" on television. This is a reflection of the TV industry more broadly - and expectations are rightly highest when it comes to the BBC. We will be taking the leading role in meeting audience expectations here by always aiming for the highest quality and distinctiveness.
The BBC's television portfolio is focusing on a number of areas:
• On BBC One, we will seek to bring even greater range and variety into peak, building on a very strong base - programmes like Sherlock, Bang Goes the Theory, Five Daughters and Outnumbered to name but a few.
• BBC Two will implement its plans in factual, drama and comedy to reaffirm its position as the mainstream, highly distinctive alternative to BBC One. Shows like Wonders of the Solar System, The Normans and Renaissance Revolution, plus new dramas like The Shadow Line, and comedies such as Whites and Rev are strong examples of how it will do this.
• BBC Four will seek to achieve even greater impact and credit for high quality, highly original pieces like the First Men in The Moon, The Secret Life of the National Grid and Michael Wood's Story of England, and the forthcoming series The Art of Germany.
• In Daytime we have already made great headway, and the Review acknowledges this and supports our plans for the future. We are introducing high quality current affairs and consumer journalism into the schedule with programmes like Rip Off Britain, Saints and Scroungers and Crimewatch Roadshow, alongside new dramas including Jimmy McGovern's Moving On and The Indian Doctor with Sanjeev Bhaskar. We will continue on this journey of refreshment to ensure our services offer the UK's most distinctive programming for daytime viewers.
• Across all of our programmes, we will seek to reflect the diversity of the UK's people, cultures, regions and communities back to our audiences, and work to provide value to all audience groups. The report reinforces the importance of our opt-out programming from the Nations and Regions - but challenges us to deliver even greater quality and impact for these programmes.
I welcome the framework provided by the five year service licences for these channels, which sit alongside BBC Three's service licence agreed last year. They are an endorsement of our plans and creative ambitions for the next five years. Along with the certainty of an agreed licence fee settlement, they place our portfolio of television channels in a strong and positive position so that we can continue to produce the very best television services in the UK.
Jana Bennett is Director of BBC Vision