Further delay on BBC Three not in the digital interest
Chairman of the BBC Gavyn Davies - speaking at the Westminster Media
Forum today (12 March 2002) - expressed concern that every month
that the decision on BBC Three is delayed, is another month when
the BBC cannot begin spending £80 million on original British
production or promote the coherent portfolio of channels and help
the Governments objectives towards analogue switch off.
BBC Three our digital proposition looks that much less compelling,
and analogue switch-off looks that much further off," he said.
added that while the BBCs competitors have suggested that
BBC Three would cost them £25 million a year in lost revenue,
the BBCs own estimates, based on independent research by Oliver
and Ohlbaum, suggests that any loss would be only a tiny fraction
of this figure, perhaps about £4 million. He added that the
BBC could not be blamed for the recent decline in the advertising
the discussion of how the broadcasting industry can serve the public
interest in the digital future, Gavyn Davies pointed out that, as
a publicly-funded public service broadcaster, the BBC is for everyone.
terms of audience figures, whether measured by reach or share, our
performance has been strong, across all of our services," he
the BBCs television services currently reaching 87.1% of the
population, Davies acknowledged that it was not just about ratings.
and near universal reach are both critical objectives for us. But
I do want the BBC to remain, in the digital age, a mass market public
service broadcaster, not one confined to a tiny corner of the market,"
the subject of regulation in the forthcoming Communications Bill,
the Chairman said the BBC did not wish to stand aloof and separate
from Ofcom and that for most purposes the BBC should and would come
fully within the Ofcom regime.
in relation to the BBCs own public service remit, the Board
of Governors retained a vital role. This was why he had recently
introduced a series of reforms to the BBCs accountability
and governance system which gave greater clarity and understanding
of the Boards role and addressed concerns raised as UK broadcasting
entered the Ofcom era.
said: "In future, both the BBC and private broadcasters will
be primarily subject to self-regulation in relation to their own
remits. The only difference is that back-stop powers will rest with
Ofcom for the private broadcasters, while they will rest with the
Secretary of State for the BBC."
roundly dismissed recent press comment suggesting that appointments
to the BBCs new Governance and Accountability Office would
be from "political cronies".
said: "Last week we advertised for the post of Head of this
new Objectives and Compliance team. The advert and the job description
is more like a lawyers job than that of a political special
adviser - Jo Moore need not apply!"
response to claims that the BBC is "dumbing down", the
Chairman said: "The debate about dumbing down should be about
how to ensure quality and enrichment for all our licence fee payers,
and not about skewing our services to appeal to a small minority.
Some people continue to argue that we must choose between mass audiences
and programme quality. But at our best, we can achieve both, after
all, 80 million people watched the eight episodes of Blue Planet
last year. Unless we can achieve quality for all, we will not deserve
the licence fee."