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Ofcom’s Second Public Service Broadcasting Review: Putting Viewers First

Final Statement published 21|01|09

One page overview

a girl and her grandfther watch TV

In this review we have focused on how to ensure the delivery of content which fulfils public purposes and meets the interests of citizens and consumers throughout the UK. Our aim has been to make recommendations that respond to the huge changes brought about by the transition to the digital era.

The central question is how a historically strong and successful public service broadcasting system can navigate from its analogue form to a new digital model. We need to sustain its quality and creative spirit while also capturing the opportunities of broadband distribution, mobility and interactivity.

Our recommendations are based on detailed audience research, a wide range of views from stakeholders within industry and our own analysis. The recommendations we present to government and Parliament set out what we believe is required to fulfil a vision of diverse, vibrant and engaging public service content enjoyed across a range of digital media, which complements a flourishing and expansive market sector. In summary, we believe that the four top priorities are:

  • To maintain the BBCs role and funding for its programmes and services at the heart of the overall system.
  • To support investment in and wide availability of high quality original programming and UK and international news, by positioning the Channel 3 and Channel 5 services as commercial networks with a limited public service commitment, with modest licence benefits balanced by appropriate obligations on a sustainable basis.
  • To plan now to ensure the supply of a choice of high quality news alongside the BBC in the devolved nations and English regions. This should include developing proposals for a new approach based on independently funded news consortia.
  • To ensure there is a financially robust alternative provider of public service content alongside the BBC, with Channel 4 at its heart, preferably based on partnerships, joint ventures or mergers, with the scale necessary to sustain effective delivery of public purposes across digital media. A new remit, governance and accountability will be essential.

We recognise also the value of choice in public service content for children and in the devolved nations. If these needs cannot be met sufficiently by these recommendations then:

  • Government should consider funding specifically for childrens content, and the case for specific approaches in each of the devolved nations for the delivery of public service content other than news.

Decisions on many of these matters are needed within the next year, as the current model of commercial public service broadcasting is clearly no longer sustainable.

We recognise that difficult choices will need to be made about the use of scarce resources. These priorities will need to be considered alongside other potential requirements to fulfil the interests of citizens and consumers in the digital age. These include promoting the availability and take-up of broadband.

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