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24.08.03

ABOUT THE BBC


BBC plans to open up its archive to the public


Creating public not private value is second phase of digital revolution says BBC Director-General


The BBC plans to open up its archive to make a treasure trove of material available to everyone, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke announced today (Sunday 24 August 2003).


Giving the Richard Dunn Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Mr Dyke said: "The BBC probably has the best television library in the world.


"Up until now this huge resource has remained locked up, inaccessible to the public because there hasn't been an effective mechanism for distribution.


"But the digital revolution and broadband are changing all that.


"For the first time there is an easy and affordable way of making this treasure trove of BBC content available to all."


The BBC Creative Archive would make extracts of selected BBC material universally available for private not commercial use in the UK.


Outlining the plan to open up the BBC's rich archive, Greg Dyke gave the example of a child using broadband at home, school or in a public library, to access the BBC material to help do their homework and projects.


"They search for real moving pictures which would turn their project into an exciting multi-media presentation. They download them and, hey presto, they are able to use the BBC material in their presentation for free," he added.


The BBC Creative Archive is just one example of the kind of public value initiatives that would come with the second phase of the digital revolution, he said.


"I believe that we are about to move into a second phase of the digital revolution, a phase which will be more about public than private value; about free, not pay services; about inclusivity, not exclusion.


"In particular, it will be about how public money can be combined with new digital technologies to transform everyone's lives," he added.


However Greg Dyke made it clear the BBC would not be the only publicly funded player in the field in the digital revolution's second phase.


Commitment was needed from a wide range of organisations including local government, educational establishments and charities as well as the commercial sector in partnership with publicly funded partners.

Giving the final lecture in a five year series, Greg Dyke also talked about the importance of a strong ITV.


He insisted the future of ITV could only be secured if both Government and regulators made it commercially attractive for ITV to remain a public service broadcaster.


"If governments and regulators want to preserve some of the best features of commercial broadcasting in this country they will have to change their approach," he said.


"They will have to make it commercially attractive for ITV to remain a public service broadcaster.


"The days of doing it by decree are rapidly coming to an end and the days of charging ITV hundreds of millions of pounds for the privilege of being a broadcaster are certainly numbered."


Dismissing claims by ITV executives that its relative collapse was due to the BBC, he urged that ITV should look closer to home for its recent failures - the failure of ITV Digital, the money ill-spent on sports rights, bad programming decisions including moving the News at Ten and losing Home and Away to five as well as upsetting traditional advertisers by taking money from dotcoms.


A strong ITV was vital for the industry and the audience.


Only by securing a strong ITV as an advertiser funded, free to air television group - alongside the BBC and Sky - could a healthy broadcasting market with a proper balance of power and influence be maintained, he added.


He argued that the merger of Carlton and Granada be allowed to proceed under reasonable terms and for further consolidation within advertiser funded broadcasting.


Without change, Dyke stated that the future would be bleak for viewers and programme makers alike.


Commercial imperatives would see less money being spent on ITV's traditional commitment to public service, high quality indigenous programming.


This would inevitably result in a loss of regional output as well as the loss of programming in genres from children's and arts to religious and current affairs for the audience.


Greg Dyke ended his speech by re-emphasising the role of the BBC in the digital revolution.


As well as projects such as the BBC Creative Archive and the BBC's involvement in broadband in Hull, Dyke hoped that there would be other opportunities where public money would be used alongside the developing technology to enrich society.


Notes to Editors


The lecture in full


BBC response to Tony Ball, Chief Executive of BSkyB, giving the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture 2003 (22.08.03)


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