Feeds

Ofcom questions BBC licence fee for worthy TV

Launches review, annoys everyone

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Ofcom has launched its long awaited consultation into Public Service Broadcasting - with something to annoy everyone.

The regulator predicts a tough time for commercial broadcasters, which justifies the main policy proposal: forcing the state broadcaster to share its income with private sector rivals.

Even before publication, this was the most contentious part of the review: throwing public money after a disappearing audience. Ofcom notes that viewing for the five main TV channels has declined by 17 per cent since 2003.

In the same time period, spending on what it defines as "public service broadcasting" has fallen by a third (£130m), and Ofcom predicts it will have fallen by two thirds by 2012.

Several funding alternatives for private broadcasters are discussed - giving them the proceeds of spectrum auctions, new direct taxes, divvying up the license fee, imposing "industry levies", and/or allowing them to make more from advertising.

Broadcasters are already divided in how to respond. Some (eg, Channel 4) dearly want a slice of taxpayers license-payers' money. Others (eg, ITV) want the PSB obligations lifted altogether - so they can compete with BSkyB, which doesn't have any. Ofcom sees the crunch coming quickest, and hardest, for children's and regional programming.

Although Ofcom says one of the main justifications for the review is the desire to retain "plurality", it doesn't examine the option of giving grants to anyone but the existing gatekeepers.

The regulator also had a look at "public service" web content. If you're wondering what such a thing may be, wonder no more.

Ofcom asked consultancy MTM London to define it. MTM, in turn consulted "expert blogs" who provide "coverage of individual sectors and of the internet as a whole (TechCrunch, Mashable, Read/Write Web, etc.)", and they came up with the following examples:

  • News and Information: BoingBoing and RealClimate.
  • Commercial products: TED.
  • Communities: The Richard Dawkins Foundation.

There's plurality for you. ®

Related link

The Ofcom Public Service Broadcasting Review

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.