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Ofcom announces 2nd PSB recommendations

Ofcom has released its second public service broadcasting (PSB) report, with Chief Executive Ed Richards acknowledging that “The UK needs new ways to sustain the spirit of public broadcasting”.

In a Media Guardian piece, Richards said that “We need to sustain the quality and creative spirit of our approach to broadcasting while capturing the opportunities of broadband, mobility and interactivity.’”

The report’s main recommendations:

  • The BBC license fee will not be ‘top-sliced’ - “because we want to secure the bedrock of BBC services. But we also highlight that funding for digital switchover is a legitimate subject for public debate” said Richards
  • The Corporation could play an increasing role in fostering digital innovation, however

On Channel 4, “It is important to maintain a second organisation with public purposes at its heart to offer different perspectives, reach different audiences and drive innovation…" the recommendations suggest "a new model for the future with partnerships, joint ventures and even mergers as part of the mix.”

(Last week, Channel 4 CEO Andy Duncan spoke about potential mergers with Five and BBC Worldwide at Nesta, as reported by AOP.)

  • Ofcom indicated that C4's current setup, which does not allow the broadcaster to produce its own programmes and therefore exploit rights, could be revised
  • There may also be a "one-off allocation of funding", such as the BBC's yearly £130m digital switchover surplus to "facilitate" JVs and partnerships
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  • On 22 January, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said he would favour a merger with BBC Worldwide over Five

ITV will be able to scale back its PSB content, the report saying it should be “an essentially commercial network” with “modest” PSB commitments:

  • Both ITV and Channel 4 have welcomed Ofcom’s recommendations, according to MediaWeek

On local news and media, the report suggests that cross-platform “independently- funded consortia” could provide a viable ongoing alternative to local BBC services.

Sources

PaidContent:UK’s Summary of the Report

Media Guardian's Summary

Ofcom’s Second PSB Review Report One Page Overview

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