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21 April 2014
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BBC Director-General Mark Thompson and Chairman Michael Grade

BBC launches its vision of the future and manifesto for action



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, value.


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 in perpetuity.


"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 UK.


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 value."


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 sector."


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 and accountability.


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 channels.


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 with complaints


considering other constitutional options such as mutualisation or trust status.


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 and information


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 Big Read


continue to invest in big events that people share and create social capital.


The learning revolution


Digital technologies allow the BBC's education strategy to come of age.


We will:


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


We will:


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 roots.


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


Connecting communities


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 aims.


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.


We will:


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 multi-media buses


create a new region based in Milton Keynes, Britain's fastest growing town


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.


We will:


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).



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Category: BBC
Date: 29.06.2004
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