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New BBC digital services are "distinctive" and have delivered a "positive benefit" to the UK

Category : BBC
Date : 30.04.2004
Printable version

The BBC's new digital television and radio services are delivering distinctive and original public service content to UK audiences and are on track to meet all of the conditions of their approvals, according to submissions made to the Secretary of State in a review of the services beginning today.

From the success of Little Britain to the critical acclaim of The Alan Clark Diaries, from the top performing children's channel CBeebies to award-winning radio stations BBC 7 and the Asian Network, the new channels and networks are already making a critical and audience impact, with a track record for new talent and innovative new formats.

An independent assessment also published today suggests that the new services may have been responsible for bringing as many as one million new households to digital TV and have made a positive impact on the radio and TV markets in the UK.

The findings were part of the BBC's submission to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who, today, launched a review of the BBC's new digital services - four TV channels (BBC THREE, BBC FOUR, The CBBC Channel and CBeebies) and the digital radio networks (1Xtra, 6 Music, BBC 7, the Asian Network and Five Live Sports Extra).

The independent assessment goes on to show that the new digital services have provided something new and distinctive to UK audiences, have had a largely positive impact on the market and have extended the reach of public service broadcasting to a wider audience.

The assessment - carried out by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates Ltd on behalf of the BBC - also demonstrates the BBC's strong commitment to investing in original UK programming on its new TV digital channels.

This investment of £150m is more than the total sum spent by the other 140 basic and free-to-air thematic channels in the UK added together (excluding the news and home shopping channels).

A large proportion has been invested in new talent and in the UK's independent production sector.

The assessment also shows that BBC digital radio stations are playing a vital role in driving digital penetration and have had an "unambiguously positive" impact on the commercial sector.

They have provided programming that is distinct from commercial offerings and existing BBC stations, and have supported UK producers, presenters and artists.

The key findings of the Oliver & Ohlbaum reports include:

• That there is "strong evidence to suggest that the four new BBC TV digital services have played an important role in driving the uptake of Freeview" and that "the BBC services may have added one million homes to overall digital take-up over the period"

• That "each BBC TV service is offering something distinctive to UK multi-channel audiences when compared with other thematic channels - and often to a distinct demographic"

• That the financial impact of the TV services on the advertising revenues of other services has been modest, with a range of £4m to £10m annual negative impact – less than 2.5% of revenues of thematic channels and less than 0.2% of that of mainstream commercial networks

• That the impact on the subscription fee revenue of thematic channels has probably been limited, since the BBC services have largely driven the take up of Freeview, which has been additional to, rather than a substitution for, the take up of subscription packages

• The BBC's digital radio networks provide programming that is distinct from both commercial offerings and existing BBC stations

• BBC digital radio networks are increasingly cited by DAB purchasers as the key reason to buy with BBC 7, Five Live Sports Extra and 6 Music being particularly popular

• The Asian Network and 1Xtra have succeeded in reaching previously underserved audiences.

The report also shows that the new services have made a significant contribution to the UK production base.

BBC THREE and BBC FOUR alone have commissioned work from more than 100 independent producers – more than half of whom have never made programmes for the BBC before.

And the digital radio networks have helped to bring new production talent and presenters into mainstream radio and promoted UK music and new live performances.

In its submissions to the Secretary of State, the BBC has given its own assessment of the channels' performance against the consents they were given and how they align with the public purposes of the organisation.

The BBC believes it has fulfilled all of the general conditions which include:

• The channels have largely met all of the specific conditions, with the exception of a small number of the commitments made by CBeebies and the CBBC channel but these are on course and will be delivered by the end of this financial year

• The performance against commitments and conditions have been closely monitored by the BBC Governors

• They have achieved high general standards for the services of content, quality and integrity

• The BBC has undertaken vigorous campaigns to promote the uptake of digital radio and has worked in partnership with commercial radio and the Digital Radio Development Bureau to drive digital penetration

• The digital radio stations offer more for ethnic minority audiences, better use of the BBC archive and greater value from sports rights

• Each service has stimulated, supported and reflected the diversity of cultural activity in the UK, through programming that reflects and involves the UK's multicultural society

• The television channels' offerings have been extended through online and interactivity and the best of them have been showcased on BBC ONE and BBC TWO.

The submission also outlines how the new services reflect the distinctive public purpose that underpins all BBC output. In particular:

• by augmenting the breadth of news coverage for children, young adults and people interested in global affairs, and supporting social action campaigns, they support active and informed citizenship

• by investing in and nurturing new British talent in comedy, drama, entertainment, animation and music from around the UK; by developing on and off screen talent from a diverse range of ethnic, geographic and social backgrounds and across a range of ages; by extending the volume and diversity of arts coverage; by building links with major cultural institutions; by celebrating cultural and religious festivals; they enrich the cultural life of the nation

• by making learning the core of the two children's channels; by using factual, drama, and current affairs as platforms for education on BBC THREE; by building BBC FOUR around arts, science, history and ideas, they offer educational opportunities for all

• by bringing together communities of interest on and off line - children, parents and carers, lovers of music, or literature or film, they help to make the UK a more inclusive society.

Notes to Editors and Picture Editors

The review of the BBC's digital TV and Radio services announced today was built into the approvals process for all of the BBC's new services by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The BBC's submissions to the Secretary of State can be seen on the DCMS website.

Hard copies are available - for journalists - from the BBC Press Office.

Approval for the all of the television and radio services, except BBC THREE, was given by the Secretary of State on 13 September 2001.

Approval for BBC THREE was given on 17 September 2002.

The BBC's new services were launched as follows:
• CBBC and CBeebies on 11 February 2002
• BBC FOUR on 2 March 2002
• BBC THREE on 9 February 2003
• BBC 7 on 15 December 2002
• 6 Music on 11 March 2002
• 1Xtra on 16 August 2002
• the Asian Network on 28 October 2002
• Five Live Sports Extra 2 February 2002.

Photographs relating to each of the new services are available on the BBC Picture Publicity website.




The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Category : BBC
Date : 30.04.2004
Printable version


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

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