BBC an odd mixture of emotions, maths and some misinformation.

28 July 2015
ISBA’s director of public affairs Ian Twinn and the director of media and advertising Bob Wootton have responded to the initial stages of the debate surrounding the future of the BBC, advising circumspection around the introduction of advertising on BBC services.

  

ISBA’s director of public affairs Ian Twinn and the director of media and advertising Bob Wootton have responded to the initial stages of the debate surrounding the future of the BBC, advising circumspection around the introduction of advertising on BBC services.

Ian Twinn ISBA’s director of public affairs said:

“The future of the BBC is an odd mixture of emotion and maths.

First the emotion; most of us are seriously mixed up here, we enjoy the programming, or at least quite a lot of it , but bristle at paying the poll tax to fund it. This will get worse and worse as the Beeb spend more of it on web based services.

Secondly the maths; people might say in a poll that they support ad funded BBC but it remains true that there is not an elastic supply of advertising money.  If the BBC attracts advertisers the existing channels will be the loser.  It is a harsh reality, but real non the less"

Bob Wootton ISBA’s director of media and advertising said:

“This is a subject that is rightly going to draw a lot of comment and command a lot of ‘column inches’ in the next few months. Probably a shedload of misinformation too, not least from the Corporation itself.

An orderly evolution of the status quo is what’s needed.

A licence fee or other universal tax is going to be necessary for a while yet, but could morph practically to a household charge. However, differential charging in line with household earnings would make it seem more of a tax than a fee, so decriminalisation of non-payment would have to be revisited.

UK broadband infrastructure won’t support a subscription model for broadcast TV yet, but should (will?) do before long, so provision needs to be made for further Charter review in less than ten years.

Remit really needs to be tightened up. “Inform, educate, entertain” covers any and everything and is therefore a licence (sic) to compete unnecessarily in commercial markets, which tendency should be curtailed. Likewise online, where BBC has blazed trails but not distorts its environment.

Successive attempts at Governance have not covered themselves in glory, so it’s time to give the competent regulator, Ofcom, its chance.  It hasn’t hurt the commercial sector’s independence – ITV, C4 and Sky’s news services have all been lauded - so why on earth should it cramp the BBC’s style?

And advertising? Some would love to share the National Lotteries access to BBC1’s primetime audiences, but everyone should consider carefully the impacts on the whole broadcast ecology.  If adspends did not rise in line with supply of audience, funds available for world-class content creation would inevitably if gradually be compromised to industry’s collective disadvantage.

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These comments have appeared in an article in The Drum magazine. To read the article please click here

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