Thursday, April 10, 2008

Public Service Broadcasting (PSB)

PSB purposes, the public purposes:-

Purpose 1: Informing our understanding of the world - To inform ourselves and others and to increase our understanding of the world through news, information and analysis of current events and ideas

Purpose 2: Stimulating knowledge and learning - To stimulate our interest in and knowledge of arts, science, history and other topics, through content that is accessible and can encourage informal learning

Purpose 3: Reflecting UK cultural identity - To reflect and strengthen our cultural identity through original programming at UK, national and regional level, on occasion bringing audiences together for shared experiences

Purpose 4: Representing diversity and alternative viewpoints - To make us aware of different cultures and alternative viewpoints, through programmes that reflect the lives of other people and other communities, both within the UK and elsewhere

Ofcom today launched the first phase of its second review of public service broadcasting. Annex 10 to the review deals with the future delivery of public service content for children. A substantial portion of the review of children's television programming is about the lack of satisfactory content for older children and teens, something that this blog has consistently highlighted.

Ofcom say that "In the context of changing children’s media consumption, older children and young teenagers are particularly dissatisfied with current delivery of public service programming, yet there is no evidence that providing this type of content is a viable commercial option." But, of course, one of the fundamental reasons for maintaining a licence fee based broadcaster is to fund quality programmes which are not necessarily commercially viable, but are in the public interest. By only belatedly catering for teens, and then with such nugatory programming, the BBC has potentially handed their rivals a sharp knife with which to top-slice the BBC licence fee. If, instead, the BBC had served this section of the community satisfactorily, children's television would not be the issue that it has now become.

Ed Richards, Ofcom's CEO told Channel 4 News in a recorded interview:

"The benefits of a wider distribution of the licence fee are clearly that is one among a series of options that would offer a route to supporting a wider mix of public service broadcasting in the future. But the risks associated with it are that, if a wider distribution of the licence fee took place, that in some way you may damage or diminish the BBC. And that is not an outcome that we would want to take place. But we do want to secure a system which is a plural mixed broadcasting system ..."

The BBC has decided to launch a Conversation with the public and selected sectors.

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