Beyond 2012 - The Future of the BBC
Yesterday I gave a speech to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV), and I thought readers of this blog might like the chance to read it and also hear a bit more about what I was saying and why.
A few months ago, after discussion with the BBC Trust, I announced a substantial re-examination of the BBC's overall strategy. As technology developments gather pace and the economic outlook changes, we need to be sure the BBC is properly focused on our mission to inform, educate and entertain, and is able to deliver to the standards everyone expects. The big question in my mind was: what needs to change to make sure the BBC continues to do the very best for all audiences in what has become known as 'the digital age'.
At a speech to an industry conference in Cambridge, I sought to do two things: firstly, to highlight the importance in this country of 'public space' - those things which are open to all of us to use and take advantage of, including the BBC - and secondly, to acknowledge that, in a world of greater financial pressure, those of us who occupy that public space need to be able to justify our place both by being very clear why we are there and in delivering what we promise. That's what our strategy review is all about.
Yesterday, when I spoke to the VLV I wanted to make clear that - in reviewing our strategy - our focus would be getting the BBC in the best shape possible to deliver what the public really wants from us: quality programming. Even more than at present, our focus first and foremost in the future will be on quality: creative ambition, excellence and original programming across television, radio and online.
Work is progressing so I will be able to unveil early next year what will be changing at the BBC to allow that increased commitment. And as Sir Michael Lyons announced earlier this week, the Trust will consult publicly on those measures. But in the meantime, I want everyone to understand that quality is our priority and that is what is driving our approach.
Yesterday I also spoke about the importance of the BBC's independence from government and highlighted the difficulties faced by other broadcasters around the world who are not fortunate enough to enjoy the structures which secure the BBC's independence. If you have time, do read the speech in full. Also, you might like to look at a feature on Newsnight last night about the future of the BBC. A proud part of the BBC's heritage is that our news programmes do not shy from holding BBC bosses to account. And you can see that principle in action when Gavin Esler interviewed me, along with industry experts, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and his Conservative Shadow.