Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-39)|
WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 2002
20. I do not even understand that, Mr Dyke,
because the other part of the question I was going to ask you
is about the parenthesis at the end of that bullet point on page
13, "(three-minute reach figures)". Are you therefore
telling us that what you can boast about with BBC4 is that, having
lost 90 per cent of its audience after a month, you are only now
able to measure any appreciable reaction on the basis of a three-minute
reach, which includes four-year-olds?
(Mr Dyke) Mr Chairman, it might make a good headline
but it did not lose 90 per cent of its share in its first month.
You are comparing share with reach, and you are comparing two
21. Explain it to me, Mr Dyke. If I am being
stupid about it, explain it to me.
(Mr Dyke) If you look at pages 108 and 109, one gives
you the share by reach, which is a 15-minute weekly reach; the
other gives it to you by share. They are two distinct measures.
This is the number of people who, at some stage during the week,
watch that channel for 15 minutes. There are the figures there.
22. If it is 15 minutes, will you explain "three-minute
reach figures" on page 13?
(Mr Dyke) I would consider that it would be consistent
on reach figures between this and that. There are two reach figures
published by BARB: one is a three-minute reach and one is a 15-minute
reach. This one is done on a 15-minute reach. However, it is not
unusualin fact, it was almost certain in every station
I have ever been involved inthat actually, when you launch
a channel, you get a blip at the beginning; it goes back down,
and then gradually over time it rises. If you give a lot of publicity
to the launch of a new channel, you get a blipinevitably.
23. I read in the newspaper that what you achievedsetting
aside the simulcast that you did with BBC4in terms of digital
homes the peak that you were reaching was 11,000 viewers, of whom
you now appear to have lost 9,500.
(Mr Davies) Chairman, you are quoting reach and share
figures as if they were interchangeable, and they are really different
figures. At the moment, BBC4 is reaching about 1.1 million people
per week in digital homes. That is about almost five per cent
of digital viewers. That is the number of people who watch it
for three successive minutes at some point in the week. That is
the reach of the channel. The share of the channel is a completely
different matter, as is the average viewers per programme, which
I think may be the figure that you have read in the press which
you have just quoted. I do not know what the 11,000 figure is,
but that could conceivably be it. There is a big difference between
the average viewer for a particular programme and the number of
viewers over a whole week that access the channel.
24. I understand all of that, Mr Davies, and
I understand that you get these somewhat larger figures by adding
together people who may have zapped in for a short while; then
you add them all together and say that you have this audience
of five per cent in the first month. However, would you just explain
this to mebecause, as I say, I am ready to be instructed
on this matterif you are talking about 15-minute periods
why, on page 13, do you talk about a three-minute reach figure?
It is your figure; you put it in.
(Mr Davies) Because both are true.
25. Which is truer?
(Mr Davies) Both are true but they are measuring different
things. It is like the difference between a pint and a quart.
They are both accurate but they are measuring different quantities.
26. They can be different things. What I do
not understand is how many people you claim are watching these
channels. When you talk about a three-minute reach figure, you
must have put "three-minute reach figure" in for some
good reason, must you not? The Clerk has put that my time is up!
(Mr Dyke) Because my time is not up, I presume that
I can continue! Surely what you should be discussing about BBC4
is content? If you have what is often quite esoteric, quite difficult
content, you will not get large audiences. Are you saying that
we should not attempt to do a very large number of the Proms on
television, because they will not get large audiences?
27. Since my time is up, I will refer you back
to Mr Bryant. I have the droit de seigneur as far as this is concerned.
(Mr Davies) May I write you a letter, chairman, that
Chairman: No. I want you to tell me now.
28. I wholeheartedly agree with BBC4 and I think
that BBC3 should happen, so that you better serve those audiences
which are presently under-served. However, my question is about
access for the 50 per cent of my constituents who pay the full
licence fee but do not have the opportunity of digital televison.
(Mr Dyke) It is a perfectly fair question. What we
are trying to do is to take what we judge to be the best programmes
of the digital services and repeat them at some stage on BBC1
and BBC2. That is all we can do at present. Remember, it was the
Government who decided not to have a digital licence fee. A digital
licence fee would have solved the problem. We recognise that there
is a problem. You could argue that somewhere between 10 and 15
per cent of the money that they are paying is going on services
that they cannot receive.
29. But part of the answer lies in your hands.
You are rolling out digital radio and digital television, increasing
the coverage of digital terrestrial television and digital radio
on exactly the same map, slowly through Britain, but it will not
be getting to the Rhondda for quite some time, as far as I can
(Mr Dyke) I agree. There are particular areas of Britain
where to roll it out is incredibly expensive. There are plans
on how you could bring digital terrestrial television to those
areas. Some of those areas, I suspect, will only receive digital
terrestrial television when there is actually switch-off.
(Mr Davies) Bear in mind also that the sole motivation
for bidding for the DTT franchiseswhich a consortium, including
the BBC, won last monthis to spread digital take-up more
rapidly and make these services more widely available. We are
hoping that cheaper boxes, under £100 a box, will become
available to people and they will be able to get these services
much more readily.
30. You can buy them in Dixons for £79
at the momentsecond-hand ITV Digital oneswhich probably
still belong to somebody else!
(Mr Dyke) What we discovered in all the work we did
there was that digital terrestrial television is a technological
nightmare for this country at the moment. You discover that only
39 per cent can actually receive, and half of those get interference.
Something has to be done, thereforewhich is what we will
do, along with the others. We have to sort out the technology
if we want to get a much broader reach. At the moment, people
are buying boxes, taking them home and cannot get them to work.
31. Yes, I have one. Could you write about the
roll-out of coverage? Every time I ask this, we do not seem to
move much further forward on knowing when digital terrestrial
television will reach some of the more difficult areas. It would
be refreshing if we did not always follow the same roll-out pattern,
which is that we always get to certain places last on the list.
Those people are paying the licence fee, just the same as everybody
(Mr Dyke) The ones that are normally last on the list,
as you know, are the ones that are the most expensive to cover
in terms of the roll-out. That is the problem.
(Mr Davies) Would you object if we write to you on
that subject, Chairman?
32. No, he would not. May I ask one other question?
Do you and your journalists like politicians?
(Mr Dyke) I am not sure that is a question I should
answer really. Either way, it seems to me to be a difficult question.
I expect that there are some I like and some I do not like. Some
a bit like you, probably!
33. In the reporting of news, therefore, do
you think that it is right that politicians or commentators should
most substantially report events?
(Mr Dyke) Politicians should be used in the reporting
of events, but should not report the events, no.
Mr Bryant: Do you think that you have
that balance right? Because I think that there would be many of
us who would worry about it.
34. I will move on to something different. It
is about the audiences that you under-serve at the moment. Clearly
you have been very successful in introducing a variety of different
cultures from the minority ethnic groups into programming. For
example, in the last two years in EastEnders, and certainly
the introduction of The Kumars, which I think everyone
absolutely adores. That does not seem to be translating into the
management of the BBC. You report a very small increase in the
levels of senior management. I think the report says that it is
now up to 3.2 per cent. How many does that represent and what
steps are you taking to improve that?
(Mr Dyke) We will have to check on the actual numbers.
When I arrived at the BBC the figure was two per cent. The figure
across our staff generally was eight per cent. We set ourselves
a target for the end of 2003 to be at 10 per cent of the staff
and four per cent of the management. You could argue that four
per cent is still a pathetically low figure, and I would not disagree
with that. However, it will take time. I will have to let you
know the exact numbers. We are quite confident that we will hit
the 10 per cent figure in our staff by the end of 2003. I would
be surprised if we did not hit that. It is obviously something
which you can put in place. The law allows you to put in place
all sorts of training programmes, and that is what we have done.
In terms of the management, I suspect that the only way we will
see a significant change over time is through internal promotion.
We have introduced a programmed called Ascend, which we did with
women a decade ago. The level of women in management has changed
phenomenally. Thirty-seven per cent of the management figure are
women. That is up from 32 per cent in two years, and up from 14
per cent when we started. It is therefore a dramatic change. We
have to do the same thing in relation to ethnic minorities. Ascend
is a programme which identifies people from ethnic minorities
with management potential and tries to fast-track them through
35. I was involved in training programmes for
women before I came here, and I know how successful that has been.
It did achieve success very quickly. You should be able to do
exactly the same with members of the ethnic groupsreally
intensive training and identifying people whom you can fast-track
through the system. Do you have plans in place to do that?
(Mr Dyke) We have a programme which we have introduced
this year called Ascend. In the first 18 months we had
what I would call a fairly scattergun approach. We had a lot of
different programmes. We then took the money and said, "Let's
concentrate on the five who we think have a chance of being successful".
It will undoubtedly take time. Two weeks ago we appointed a manager
of a local radio station from, for the first time, an ethnic minority
background. It is beginning to happen, but it is slow and it is
36. We would encourage you to get on with that.
It is very important in the public sector.
(Mr Davies) We have set a very clear objective for
next year. The objectives for next year are on page 17to
"accelerate progress towards the BBC's target of 10 per cent
of its total workforce and four per cent of senior management
coming from ethnic minorities". So we are very aware of the
problem you are raising.
(Mr Dyke) Given that two-thirds of our workforce are
in London and most are in urban conurbations, even 10 per cent
is a fairly low figure.
37. Can I move on to the other under-served
group, the young audiences. Since my family fit exactly into the
characteristics of that group who are leavingyou report
a drop of young people aged 16 to 35 in your share of BBC1 audiencewhat
steps are you taking and where are we with BBC3?
(Mr Dyke) With BBC3 we are currently awaiting a decision
from the Secretary of State. She had concerns about the effect
of BBC3 on the commercial marketplace. We have some figures; the
ITC have now produced some figures, and broadly we are in agreement.
We are expecting a decision some time in the next month.
38. Hopefully a positive one?
(Mr Dyke) We hope that it is a positive one, yes.
39. But if it is not? Across television in particular?
(Mr Dyke) It is a big issue for us. BBC2 has shifted
to aim at an older age group. I suspect that, with the sports
events and suchlike this year, it will have helped us a great
deal in the current year. I suspect that the Jubilee helped us
in this category, because that seemed to get everybody in.