Trust response to Lord Carter's interim Digital Britain report
Digital and broadband technologies hold enormous potential to bring great benefits to audiences and to the economy, and the BBC stands ready to play its part in ensuring these benefits are delivered as widely as possible through the UK. We note Lord Carter's invitation to the BBC to play a leading role through marketing, cross-promotion and provision of content to drive interest in taking up broadband and we look forward to engaging in discussion about this.
Lord Carter's report raises major issues and we will respond in more detail in due course. Today we can make the following observations:
The Trust welcomes the Government's commitment to maintaining a strong fully-funded BBC at the core of delivering public purposes in Britain's media.
The BBC recognises it has a responsibility to help sustain the wider public service broadcasting sector. The Trust believes that the most productive way for the BBC to fulfil this responsibility is act as an enabler, seeking to create new value rather than simply transfer existing value from the BBC to any new PSB entity. In this spirit, the BBC is currently working hard to develop partnerships with other PSBs that both create new value for its partners and serve the best interest of licence fee payers.
For example, the BBC is working actively with ITV on proposals to share BBC regional news resources, thereby reducing the costs to ITV of maintaining its own regional news services. We welcome Lord Carter's encouragement of these discussions. The BBC is also working actively with Channel 4 to establish what scope there is for a partnership with BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, to create new value to replace some of the revenue lost to Channel 4 by declining advertising sales.
We welcome Lord Carter's recognition of BBC Worldwide as a very successful UK international media operator. We also welcome his recognition that Worldwide's success reflects its close proximity to the BBC licence fee funded public services, the BBC brand around the world, and its first-look arrangement with the BBC. The Trust is clear that maintaining these relationships are key to BBC Worldwide's ability to create value.
We note Lord Carter's suggestion that a greater degree of operational and financial flexibility for BBC Worldwide in the future could be better for BBC Worldwide as a business, and for the licence fee payer. The Trust, aware of concerns over the competitive impact of Worldwide activities, is engaged in a review to establish the appropriate boundaries to set around Worldwide and the appropriate balance to strike between the BBC's public service mission and its commercial activties. Nevertheless we look forward to hearing more about Lord Carter's ideas on this subject.
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