The BBC - helping the creative economy to grow

Friday 9 September 2011, 17:14

John Tate John Tate Director, Policy and Strategy

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Helping the creative industries restart and diversify Britain's economy is a crucial element of Jeremy Hunt's plan for a new Communications Act. How then does the BBC measure up to this aspiration?

A BBC report published today, Helping Drive growth in the UK creative economy (PDF), describes how the Corporation helps create the right conditions for growth in the creative sector. The BBC's primary purpose is to inform, educate and entertain but, like other public institutions, it can make a positive contribution to growth. The BBC does this in two ways: by enhancing the productive potential - 'supply-side' - of the creative sector, and by stimulating the demand for services, products and exports. Here are some examples of how this works in practice.

Training and developing creative talent: Last year the BBC invested over £30m in training the creative sector, and supplied over 3,800 days of training to more than 2,400 non-BBC staff. The talent nurtured benefits the wider industry, with many presenters, writers and performers moving between the BBC and commercial broadcasters and independent producers.

Investing over £50m in Research & Development activity: Because the BBC is committed to open platforms and technologies, we enable other companies to create their own value on the back of them. Just think how many set top boxes, flat-screen TVs and digital radios have been sold as a result of the BBC's work on Freeview, Freeview HD, FreeSat, NICAM and many other innovations.

UK content sector: The BBC's £1 billion investment, combined with healthy competition for commissions between in-house and independent suppliers, has helped underpin a vibrant commercial UK production sector. Without this role, the sector could lose over a quarter of its income.

Supporting digital markets: BBC Online - now the 5th-most popular web destination for UK users - gave many people a reason to go online for the first time. Likewise, BBC iPlayer has helped expand the audience for online audiovisual content to the benefit of other providers. Our work to support RadioPlayer has bought around 300 commercial radio stations together in one place.

Growing exports and inward investment through BBC Worldwide. Our commercial arm continues to grow, doing business in 200 countries and territories. It works with over 300 indies and turns the best UK content into global brands. Turnover increased 7.8% to £1,158m last year; it now accounts for nearly 10% of UK creative industry exports; and helped attract £59m of inward investment in 2009/10 from overseas broadcasters.

Showcasing and supporting the Arts. through outstanding projects like A History of the World in 100 Objects, the BBC provides significant benefits to other cultural organisations. In the last week alone, we've launched two more such landmark projects - Handmade in Britain in partnership with the V&A, and the Private Lives of Medieval Kings with the British Library. And through our radio stations and BBC Introducing we help discover great British music talent that often goes on to global success.

Delivering our sixth public purpose - to bring new communications technology to audiences - helps the economy rebalance towards more digital, high-tech industries.

Creative clusters. By focussing our expertise geographically such as Natural History in Bristol and Drama in Cardiff, the BBC has created sustainable production centres, helping the UK to have a more balanced economy. Many thousands of people will directly benefit from employment, training, business or partnership opportunities from MediaCityUK in Salford.

The BBC can only benefit the creative industries in these ways because of its scale, international reach, stable funding and commitment to the highest levels of quality.

At a time when more and more public institutions are being challenged to make a contribution to growth as well as to fulfil their public functions, the BBC has hopefully shown a lead.

John Tate is Director, BBC Policy & Strategy and Chairman, BBC Studios & Post-Production

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    Comment number 1.

    Nice words and intentions but given recent events they seem to be at odds with actual policy and action and as such the BBC is rapidly losing the trust of hitherto loyal BBC supporters.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    How can the BBC claim to be supporting the economy when its undermining the F1 industry with its appaling SKY deal , i love reading these pages and their ridiculous motivational buzzword enhanced speeches that mean nothing , the BBC has lost its integrity , honesty and support , the intention to abuse core audiences using the excuse of budget constraint whilst throwing away licence fee payers money on over the top Olympic coverage , corporate hq moves , reality show licences and abysmal youth oriented programming is all too clear , even non f1 fans have seen the lack of accountability and censorship that would be worthy of a minor middle east dictatorship , im ashamed of my BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    To Daz51: Pls let's stop going on and on about a decision which had to happen no matter what! Sometimes the BBC ALSO has to run like a business and this was an example of when it did. Why did it go to Sky you may ask? Well that's because it was the biggest offer that was made and in a time of tough economics surely you can understand the BBC's need to maximise its revenues in order to maintain other crucial services which are also under threat from cuts! If management had the choice I am sure it would have kept F1 but the matter of it is: It didn't. So laugh away but I'd love to hear what you would have done in those circumstances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Just a reminder Mr.Tate that the BBC has actually cut about one quarter of the programme making jobs in Bristol and Birmingham in February 2011. The numbers had already been reduced in recent years, along with broadcast facilities. The BBC does not have a single television studio (except for local news) in either the East or the West Midlands. Regional production from many parts of England is now much lower than it was in the 1970's. I wouldn't describe this as "taking the lead" exactly. Your scorecard on spreading the licence fee around all the regions is saying quite clearly: More needs to be done.


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