The BBC today unveiled its future vision, where everyone in the UK
has equal access to digital services - on demand, portable and personalised
- transforming the relationship between audience and broadcaster, connecting
audiences with each other locally, nationally and globally.
BBC Chairman Michael Grade and Director-General Mark
Thompson laid out a clear agenda for change, outlining the
value and future contribution the BBC could make to life in a modern,
diverse and fully digital Britain over the next decade.
"The status quo is not an option," said Mr Grade.
The publication Building Public Value: renewing the BBC for
a digital world is the BBC's contribution to the DCMS consultation
and debate on Charter Renewal in 2006.
It lays out a nine point manifesto and actions for how the BBC can
take a lead in building a fully digital Britain, ensuring no one is
excluded from the second stage of the digital revolution.
The vision stays true to the BBC's core principles and purpose of making
distinctive programmes and services but in a world where the audience
is more in control of how, when and where they access the content they
like and value.
While building platforms and better access to more affordable digital
technologies is a first step to a fully digital Britain, the second
is about opening up the creative potential and public, as well as private,
Innovations like access to the BBC's Creative Archive
and the Digital Curriculum - due to launch in 2006
- are already underway.
But pilots such as BBC News' iCan, which enables active
participation in civic life, and Media Player (iMP)
which, like the enormously successful Radio Player, allows people to
download any TV programme within seven days of transmission, give audiences
more freedom from schedules than ever before.
"Broadband is the key to turning the BBC's rich content in to a truly
public resource. The public value of this breakthrough could be as great,
or even greater than for TV or radio. It is a public service medium,"
says the BBC's manifesto.
"An economist might conclude that the BBC has an important role in
preventing various kinds of market failure in the new digital world.
Our vision is far bolder," said Mark Thompson.
"We look forward to a future where the public have access to a treasure
house of digital content; a store of value which spans media and platforms,
develops and grows over time, which the public own and can freely use
"When the traditional one-way traffic from broadcaster to consumer
evolves into a true creative dialogue in which the public are not passive
audiences but active, inspired participants.
"The switch from analogue to digital television is only one part of
this digital transition: creating a digital Britain is about much more
than one change in one broadcast technology. If the full potential of
the second phase of the digital revolution is realised, it could transform
the lives of everyone in the UK.
Further plans and actions outlined by Mr Grade and Mr Thompson include:
achieving switchover from analogue by 2012; reforming Governance and
introducing more objectivity, rigour and transparency than ever before;
lifting creative ambition; making the BBC more open and less defensive;
and moving significant money and decision making out of London and across
The nine point manifesto covers:
Building digital Britain
Programmes and services that build public value through: active and
informed citizenship; British culture and creativity; a revolution in
learning; connected communities and building the UK's voice in the world
A new test of public value
The right scale and scope - reviews underway looking at the breadth
of BBC services, depth and vertical integration in our production base
and commissioning needs and commercial activities
A new approach to partnerships
Shifting investment and jobs from London to the rest of the UK to reflect
the life and experience of the whole UK
A more open BBC - putting audiences at the centre of everything we do
Self help and a modernised licence fee
Reforming BBC Governance
Mr Grade told an invited audience: "Our task over the next year is
to convince the British public that the BBC's role in the new digital
age of plenty is both justified and necessary.
"I want a BBC that delivers wonderful programmes that offer something
of value to everyone. And, more than that, a BBC that builds public
Outlining the case from Governors, Mr Grade said: "The most urgent
priority is not further expansion, but completing the challenge of creating
a fully digital Britain. That is what will enable the BBC to deliver
its vision of universality."
Director-General Mark Thompson said: "We can help build an infrastructure,
but digital Britain will only come to life if it also becomes a creative
space in which the best ideas and the best talent can meet audiences
who are hungry for originality and quality.
"In the end, the future will not be about pathways and platforms
but about content. Universally available, outstanding, distinctive content
has always been and remains the point of the BBC.
"Creating a fully digital Britain is a public challenge the BBC must
help to lead.
"It is a Britain from which the BBC, and only the BBC, can ensure
no one is excluded. It is a Britain where investment in British talent
and British voices and the widest range of British content will be more
important - and more at risk - than ever.
"We are launching an agenda of radical change for the BBC. Change to
take advantage of the digital revolution, but also change to make the
BBC more responsive to its owners, the British public, and change to
make it a better partner and neighbour within the wider broadcasting
Mr Grade said the BBC must remain true to its mission of enriching
people's lives through great programmes and services that inform, educate
and entertain, and to its principles of universality, fairness, equity
The BBC has always delivered public value. But a changing world socially
and technologically and a more diverse UK meant the potential and need
for public value was greater.
He said the BBC created public value to individuals, to society and
to the market through its five public purposes.
They are: democratic and civic value through trusted and impartial
news; cultural value by investing in and encouraging original British
talent and programmes; educational value - giving everyone a chance
to learn; social value - allowing communities of interest a place to
flourish; global value -as a trusted news provider and creative bridgehead
for British talent.
The Governors will now apply a test of public value to all the BBC's
activities, to assess what the BBC should and should not do, using a
set of measures including: reach, quality, impact and value for money,
as well as the economic value and potential market impact.
"Some of these measures are quantitative. But some are unashamedly
qualitative. At some point, assessing public service broadcasting does
have to be a judgement call," he said.
Both emphasised that there were no plans to launch new TV or radio
But Mr Grade said he and the Board of Governors had already asked
Mr Thompson to look at the depth of the organisation.
Three reviews are already underway - one into the BBC's production
base and commissioning needs, including a level playing field and a
fairer deal for independents; one into the BBC's commercial services
and one on general efficiencies - all using independent advisors.
Building Public Value - the main proposals
Reform to Governance
Mr Grade said: "Governance is not the same as regulation. Governance
is about stewardship. Stewardship of the money. And stewardship of the
public interest. This is the difference between the BBC Governors and
Ofcom. Ofcom has no responsibility for anybody's money."
Strengthening governance and its separation from management will include:
support and expertise from a new Governance unit which is independent
of - and located apart from - senior management
giving - and publishing - a service licence to every BBC channel and
service setting out budget, remit and performance targets. Any change
will need Board approval
leading a rolling cycle of transparent, independent reviews of BBC services
and activities, including issues raised by audiences. They should stand
in place of other external reviews
ensuring that the Annual Report is, in future, owned solely by the Governors
making more use of independent external advisors
applying a public value test to all new services, and changes to existing
services, before approval
commissioning an independent Public Value Survey of 10,000 people every
three to five years
using the internet and digital technologies to stimulate people's views
and contributions - holding 'online surgeries'
introducing a new, easier, faster and more transparent system of dealing
considering other constitutional options such as mutualisation or trust
He suggested that while the licence fee remains the best way of paying
for the BBC, its level could be set by a body, separate from Government,
similar to the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.
"Depoliticising the licence fee settlements could be the final underpinning
of the BBC's independence," he said.
The Nine Point manifesto
1. Building digital Britain
The BBC will:
work with Government and industry to fund and co-ordinate DTT build-out
for all public service broadcasters
lead the marketing and public information campaign needed to bring in
the final cohorts and achieve universal access
work with others to create a successful free digital satellite service
roll out DAB transmission and take up
pioneer open access to the massive entertainment, learning and civic
possibilities of broadband
build on our Open Centres and learning buses
launch the Creative Archive giving people access to the treasure trove
of BBC content
launch Media Player (iMP) - the TV equivalent of Radio Player
help those who are less digitally confident.
2. Programmes and services that build public value
Lifting creative ambition and making an impact beyond broadcasting.
The BBC will:
Active and informed citizenship
support civic life and national debate through trusted, impartial news
implement the Neil Report in full to strengthen BBC journalism
restore serious current affairs on TV, particularly on BBC ONE
use digital technology to launch up to 60 new local news services of
10 minutes an hour
British culture and creativity
raise the bar in creativity, quality and innovation
eliminate derivative and cynical programmes
find the best new talent and defy standard programme categories
continue the revival of drama on radio and TV, including single dramas
make up to six to eight feature film projects per year
develop comedy as a unique BBC strength with more investment
focus on innovation and new talent in entertainment and sport
put more investment in to BBC FOUR and give culture a more prominent
place on BBC ONE and BBC TWO - committed to our role on all platforms
a cultural patron
achieve impact beyond broadcasting like Children in Need, D-Day, the
continue to invest in big events that people share and create social
The learning revolution
Digital technologies allow the BBC's education strategy to come of
launch the Digital Curriculum in 2006, bringing new learning opportunities
to every British schoolchild
launch one major social action campaign a year - the first being literacy
use bbc.co.uk and interactive TV to develop new learning opportunities
for different groups
work with organisations to build media literacy and safety online
launch new educational campaigns and initiatives, with partners where
possible, such as Music for All - giving all broadband homes and schools
the chance to make music and participate in music with the BBC's performance
groups and orchestras.
The UK's voice in the world
support the UK's global role by providing trusted and impartial news
and information, as well as showcasing the best of British culture and
talent to a global audience
use a multimedia strategy to extend the reputation of the World Service
establish a firmer financial footing for BBC World
extend the BBC's network of successful joint ventures to give British
talent and culture access to international audiences
use the BBC's global presence to bring a richer international dimension
to domestic programming
help connect the people of a multicultural UK to their international
3. A new test of public value
Our aim is to make assessment of the BBC's services less subjective
in the future.
The British public have the right to know why money is being spent
on particular services, and what the benefits are.
In future, we will build a body of evidence around the public value
of the BBC's services, based on four indicators that we believe drive
public value: reach; quality, impact and value for money, and for the
BBC's five main public purposes:
Supporting informed citizenship
Enriching UK culture and creativity
Extending learning opportunities
Supporting the UK's role in the world
This framework will lie at the heart of the BBC's governance system.
Governors will commission independent research and expert advice to
assess how effectively the BBC's services are performing against these
In addition, for any new service or major change to an existing service,
a full and independent assessment of market impact will be commissioned.
It will form part of a public value test that any new service will
need to pass before a new service is launched or major change is made.
We intend to use public value to aid decision-making about what the
BBC should, and as importantly, should not do.
4. Scale and scope
The BBC should be big enough to deliver the services audiences demand,
but as small as its mission allows.
The BBC will not be expanding its channels or networks.
Breadth ensures universality and fairness, quality through committed
investment, and institutional effectiveness in training, developing
talent, infrastructure investments like DTT, and multimedia capability.
Three major reviews are now underway to look at how deep the BBC needs
to be: looking at the BBC's production base and commissioning needs;
our commercial services and overall efficiencies.
The public value test will determine whether any new access services
are approved by the Governors, including evaluation of market impact.
5. The power of partnerships and being a better partner
The main strengths that the BBC has to offer potential partners - commercial,
creative and public sector - are its local and community relationships,
its power to engage large audiences on TV and radio, and, perhaps most
valued of all, the BBC's trusted brand.
The multiple benefit of the BBC in the wider community is growing.
The BBC will:
make partnerships central to strategy, not ad hoc arrangements
aim to be a better partner, sharing our resources in the public interest
publish a partnership contract setting out standards and principles
launch a web-based partners' guide
share our cross media capabilities and explore new models.
6. From London to the whole UK
The BBC is paid for by licence payers across the UK. Its programmes
should reflect the life and experiences of the whole UK.
In its investment, employment and the geographical spread of operations,
it should be more fully representative of the people it serves.
aim to have 50% of our public service employees based outside London
over the next 10 years
invest £1bn outside London over the next 10 years
move a fifth of our commissioning by value to other parts of Britain
move back office support functions if it saves money
build Manchester as the largest broadcast centre out of London and are
currently looking at the creative and cost implications before deciding
which services may move over the Charter period
extend local radio to underserved areas, develop new open centres and
create a new region based in Milton Keynes, Britain's fastest growing
provide 10 minutes of local news in up to 60 new areas
reflect the modern UK's diversity in our programmes and our workforce.
7. A more open BBC
Audiences should be at the centre of everything the BBC does.
We will soon outline an easier and faster complaints system.
We need to change and have a more open attitude to what others think
about us, of our business relationships, our buildings, our impact on
the market and our partners.
We will publish more information on our website and have new weekly
multi-media audience programmes on BBC ONE, Radio 4 and online, with
a live interactive 'right to reply' programme on News 24.
We aim to increase customer satisfaction with BBC Information beyond
its current 85 per cent.
8. Self help and a modernised licence fee
As long as the British public wants the BBC to be an independent universal
broadcaster, committed to serving everyone on equal terms and to delivering
quality and originality, the licence fee will remain a powerful and
effective means of paying for its services.
That direct connection between the BBC and the British public is powerful.
The majority are willing to pay and many would pay more (40 per cent
said they would pay £240pa) rather than lose the BBC.
modernise collection to cut costs through direct debit and online payments
explore ways to make it more affordable for the less well off
use self help through efficiencies, savings and increased commercial
revenues as the starting pointing for all our investments
aim to reduce overheads to 10 per cent of expenditure.
9. Plus Governance (See earlier reference).