"Future of the BBC"

Discussion in 'International News' started by skbl17, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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    Well, that time is nearly upon us: the review of the BBC's royal charter, otherwise known as the mechanism that allows the BBC to exist.

    Some background: the BBC operates under a Royal Charter, a document that establishes and outlines the organization and responsibilities of a publicly-owned company, municipality, or university. In the BBC's case, its royal charter allows the corporation to exist, outlines its organization, enables the broadcaster to operate autonomously from the government, and provides for a license fee to fund it all. However, the royal charter expires every ten years, meaning that the BBC has to obtain a new royal charter to continue its operations.

    The current royal charter expires at the end of 2016, but consultations, committee hearings, and testimony have already begun in the process of renewing the BBC's royal charter. However, activity won't pick up on the charter renewal process until after this year's general election due to fears that the process would become "politicized" if it took place before the election.

    On February 26, a parliamentary committee issued a report entitled "Future of the BBC". The report provides a thorough look into the state of the broadcaster, what's good, what's bad, and possible steps that can be taken for the future.

    For instance, with regards to funding the BBC, the report finds that there is "no feasible" method in funding the BBC right now except through the license fee (£145.50, payable by households that own a TV set), but does offer some suggestions on how to proceed with funding the broadcaster should the license fee be scrapped:

    - Decriminalization: Currently, failure to pay the license fee is a criminal offense. One alternative offered by the report involves continuing the license fee past 2016, but making nonpayment a civil matter instead of a criminal one. Many MPs support this, but the BBC says that its evasion and collection costs would "increase" as a result of such a move, and points to Japan's public broadcaster (NHK) as an argument against decriminalization (25% of Japanese households with a TV do not pay the license fee).

    - General taxation: The report notes that in Finland, the public broadcaster (Yle) moved from a license fee model to a general taxation model in 2013. Despite this mention, the committee report notes that the "Yle tax" system is "too young" to judge.

    - Mandatory levy: This is the preferred alternative. The report notes that in Germany, the federal government moved to replace its license fee with a mandatory levy that all households must pay. While the committee identifies the imposition of a mandatory levy for the BBC as its recommended alternative, it also noted that there is the possibility of significant pushback from households that don't own TV sets, as they'd be subject to the levy as well.

    As for access, at least one MP, the report noted, wished for the BBC to consider restricting iPlayer access to only those who could prove they paid the license fee, while allowing nonpayers to access the online video and audio portal with a subscription. The report stopped short of endorsing this, but suggested that the government and the BBC "further study" such an idea.

    With regards to the last royal charter renewal in 2010, the report deemed the terms "unsatisfactory", noting that the BBC, in addition to its domestic responsibilities, had to shoulder the costs of Welsh programming (S4C,) digital switchover, broadband, local TV, and the BBC World Service while seeing the license fee frozen. They also took a jab at the BBC Trust for failing to "reflect the interests of the licence fee payers" before those of the government. Finally, the committee report suggests that the license fee should remain the primary preserve of the BBC, but a "small portion" of it be set aside to promote local and regional journalism and children's programming.

    Speaking of the BBC Trust, the report calls for that regulatory body (established in 2007) to be abolished and replaced with two organizations: a "BBC Board" to oversee the broadcaster itself, headed by a Chairman, and a new "Public Service Broadcasting Commission" to oversee the BBC Board, the broadcaster's finances, and British public broadcasting in general. Ofcom, the current telecom regulator, would also be assigned the task of regulating the BBC's content. The National Audits Office (NAO) would have unfettered access to oversee the broadcaster's finances as well.

    Yes, the BBC would be regulated in some form by four different authorities.

    In short, the report suggests a lot, but in a few bullet points:

    - keep the license fee, but if it must be scrapped, replace it with a mandatory levy,
    - abolish the BBC Trust and replace it with a BBC Board and a Chairman,
    - look at ways to restrict free iPlayer access to license fee payers only,
    - establish a Public Service Broadcasting Commission to oversee the public broadcasters,
    - grant Ofcom a role in regulating the BBC's content, and
    - grant the NAO access to the BBC's financial accounts.

    Man, that was a lot of stuff, but we are talking about the largest and most well-known broadcaster in the world.
     
  2. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    I believe it would be a lot easier for the BBC to receive it's funding by a mandatory levy. This would greatly reduce the expense of tracking down and billing those who were license fee evaders.

    If you ever read this forum on DigitalSpy you will see most people love to bitch about the BBC. I think the BBC is a great value for all they provide the UK audience given their limited income. Can you honestly imagine a US broadcaster providing all those quality services on a fixed income of roughly $7.79 Billion USD?

    Some decisions that were pushed on them for a leaner BBC seemed quite ridiculous and stupid such as the sale of use transmitter network, Red Bee Media and BBC Resources. First it's odd that a broadcaster sold there transmitter network for a short term gain was a bad move considering they now have to pay a fee to broadcast. Red Bee Media handles their channel origination, playout, captioning and creative services such as promos. They could of kept Red Bee and continue market it and now it's extremely successful. BBC Resources operated their studios, costumes, make up and wigs and more importantly their outside broadcast fleet. Now they lease out all of their ENG trucks and production trailers at market rates which were so expensive they needed to by back a few trailers.

    Forcing them to fund the World Service in whole is a bit unreasonable as they are required to spread the UK's message world wide in English and other services. The BBC did benefit from having some of the costs of their news crews covered world wide.
     
  3. Spectrum27

    Spectrum27 News Director

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    Maybe they should look into international broadcasters helping to co-fund the World Service; they're doing a similar thing with BBC America, as AMC Networks holds a minority stake and handles distribution (Discovery Comm. used to handle that). As for the license fee, I like the levy plan better, because a tax on TV viewing? That's not right. They should buy back their transmitters, Red Bee and Resources.
     
  4. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    I don't think the BBC could ever afford to buy back Red Bee Media. They sold the company for £166 million in 2005, it provides £135 million in annual turn over and they pay Red Bee an estimated £500 million over 10 years for playout and distribution.

    Another thing I found ridiculous was the BBC's being pushed to move away from London to avoid being London centric. The BBC was found to be too London centric where almost all of their production (aside from local news) was based in London. Essentially the only operations that were kept in London were the headquarters and news division and a handful of shows. The single largest move was to Salford in greater Manchester, where 2,300 people were to be employed. At Salford they moved their breakfast program BBC Breakfast, BBC Sport, BBC Children, Learning, Future Technology and Radio 5 Live. Unfortunately most of the jobs were transfers of current employees and of the 680 jobs created by the relocation only 26 went to persons from the region.
     
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  5. qunewsguy

    qunewsguy AM Anchor

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    Meanwhile the cutting-edge and youth-skewing BBC Three is getting gutted in order to continue to subsidize high-cost, but bland programming targeted at ever-aging demographics on BBC One and BBC Two. They need to take a long hard look at what they're doing.
     
  6. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    That was one thing that I could not figure out why they were moving BBC Three online. They made it seem like they were still going to be commissioning the same amount but just were changing the delivery method. BBC Three was a time share channel in one of their multiplexes so it's not like shutting down the channel will afford them any cost savings from the transmission stand point. Most likely they will start to take the money for BBC Three and start slowly moving it to BBC One and Two.
     
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  7. EthanR

    EthanR Assignment Editor

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    Would it be a bad thing just to commercialise the BBC?
     
  8. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    Several people on DigitalSpy and I believe Ofcom stated that if the BBC were to go commercial it would disrupt the market and put the other broadcasters at risk of failure. Essentially the advertisers would move to the BBC because of their higher ratings and leave the other channels in their wake. Apparently there isn't that much of a demand for advertising.
     
  9. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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    Yes. Actually, one of the biggest opponents to commercializing the BBC is ITV, who fears that its advertising stream would be disrupted if the BBC had to compete for ad money.

    Thus, it is in the best interest for the commercial broadcasters to keep the BBC noncommercial.
     
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  10. qunewsguy

    qunewsguy AM Anchor

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    BBC Three has already axed a new season of "In the Flesh" (well-rated and got great reviews) because they wanted to give a new show a shot and could no longer afford to keep two scripted dramas on the air at the same time. I wouldn't doubt that same fate will also befall other longer-running BBC Three shows.
     
  11. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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  12. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    I don't think the BBC should worry. UKIP has been compared to the Tea Party. Yes they will win some seats but chances are there won't be enough to form their own government. And unlike the Republican Party here which embraced the tea party for one or two cycles and then waned I don't see them forming a coalition with the Tories for the official government. Hell there not even part of the official opposition government.
     
  13. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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    There have been some developments regarding the BBC over the past week:

    - Over-75 licenses: Previously funded by HM Government, the BBC has agreed to take on the cost for funding TV licenses for pensioners over the age of 75. This move is expected to cost the BBC upwards of £650-750 million.

    - A panel has also been appointed to look into the BBC's operations and output. Some of the names are quite surprising: one member of the panel is Dawn Airey (former boss at Channel 5 and a former executive at Yahoo,) who has previously called for the abolition of the license fee and the placement of BBC Online behind a paywall.

    Other highlights:

    Essentially, there is the possibility that the BBC will be forced to cut programs like Strictly Come Dancing on the basis of not being considered "public service programming". I'm most concerned about what might happen to BBC Worldwide and BBC Online.
     
  14. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    Here's a video that the BBC has been posting in what seems like every other tweet. They are clearing drumming up support for their viewers with the upcoming charter renewal. I believe they even did a study where people had to go with out any BBC service for a fortnight. If I recall correctly even the people who weren't in favor of the license fee came out in support after they had to go without service for 14 days.

    [media]https://twitter.com/bbc/status/622734906364428288[/media]

    When they first posted the video the anti-BBC people were wondering how much this promo cost. All the footage seems to be b-roll and probably could have been put together in a day or two.
     
  15. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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  16. rkolsen

    rkolsen A Member of Sinclair Broadcast Group

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    It makes sense. They'll probably get more money this way.
     
  17. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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    We have a white paper (BBC guide here if you don't want to trudge through the 136-page report)! Her Majesty's Government has outlined its recommendations for the BBC's operations and funding, and it is a doozy.

    First, both the BBC Trust and the office of the BBC Executive are dead, to be replaced by a "unitary board"; most of the board members will be appointed by the BBC, with the others to be appointed after an "open public appointment process". Ofcom, the British telecommunications and media regulator that oversees ITV, Channel 4, Five, and all the cable, satellite, and private radio stations, will also take on a role in regulating the BBC. For the first time, the BBC will make a majority of the appointments to its governing board instead of the Queen (on the advice of the Government).

    Next, you know the iPlayer pop-up messages reminding live TV viewers that a TV license is required? Yeah, that loophole will be closed - the iPlayer will check that you have a TV license before watching any programming on the site, catch-up or live.

    Speaking of the TV license, that will continue for 11 more years at least. The freeze imposed on the TV license in 2010 will be removed, so the license fee will increase in line with inflation until 2021-22.

    There were also fears that the Government would move the BBC to a subscription-only model. That won't happen, but the BBC will have flexibility to explore making some of its content available on a subscription-only basis.

    The charter period will increase from 10 years to 11 years, to keep the charter renewal period from coinciding with general elections, which are held every five years under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011.

    Outside of news and current affairs programming, more BBC content will be open to private firms.

    With regards to international service, the BBC World Service's government funding will be protected for five years. In fact, the World Service will also get £289 million of additional funding.

    Finally, what about iPlayer programs abroad? Well, you will be able to access the iPlayer from abroad without using a VPN, but only if you're a license fee payer. Oh, and by "abroad", I mean the EU member states.

    There's a whole lot more in the white paper, but I thought I'd just touch on some of the major points.
     
    #17 skbl17, May 12, 2016
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  18. Eyewitness News-man

    Eyewitness News-man N.W.A: News-man With Attitude.

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    I don't know whether to say that's great or that sucks, since I'm not very familiar with what happens with the BBC outside of programming and history, so at least there's some good progress here that most people can agree with.
     
  19. skbl17

    skbl17 Ninja Editor

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    So apparently there are rumors that the BBC is planning to merge BBC News Channel with BBC World News, to produce a CNN International-style global news channel with regional variations.

    I would actually welcome such a move. Users on the typical UK TV presentation sites (yes, even the whiners on Digital Spy) have said that BBC News after-hours is basically BBC World News anyway, and I would like to see how the BBC would handle opt-outs and regional programming.
     
  20. bgiesing

    bgiesing Assignment Editor

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    This could also be interesting for US TV because if BBC Worldwide is scaled back, what happens to the US version of said dancing show, Dancing with the Stars? It may be co-produced with Disney/ABC but it is based on BBC properties so if BBC had to scale back, would the show either:
    - Be Cancelled
    - BBC Gives Up and let's ABC take full control or find another partner
    - Nothing changes.

    ----------------------
    As for the licensing stuff, levy sounds good like others have said. I'm sure people will find a way around iPlayer like always if they really want in.
     

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