Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 129)



  120. Not just yours, everybody else's.
  (Mr Prebble) A little comfort. It is slightly inevitable in this process that one tries to address the world as seen from the various businesses that we are running. However, I do think that what underpins everything we are saying is that there is no longer a situation where this kind of regulation for this kind of organisation and this kind for this organisation is appropriate. The only way we are going collectively to deliver all of our national aspirations in broadcasting is to see them across the piece so that we cannot be in a situation again where the public interest is not served by the BBC being able to decide itself with its public funding to move the news to ten o'clock and the commercial channel, which you would expect to be freer in these things, has the news scheduling decided for it by somebody else. Somebody outside all of this ought to be able to say that it is not in the public interest for two news programmes to be on at the same time, let us see whether we cannot have some kind of rational view of this which delivers a national service through the combination of the various parts of it.

Rosemary McKenna

  121. A question about football. In Scotland the major clubs are looking at developing their own television channel. How do you feel about that and how would you feel about it if the English clubs decided to do something similar?
  (Mr Prebble) It is a complex and fast moving situation. All of the football interests are obviously seeking to maximise value. To some extent the Scottish clubs have the problem we have at the moment through owning Football League rights; they believe they have a particular value and they cannot find a way in the current system, particularly where one company dominates distribution of football, to get something like value, so they are seeking other ways of doing that. The Premier League pay-for-view rights last time were wholesale to individual platforms on an individual basis. It may be that is a way going forward to make this a little bit of a fairer project for everybody concerned but it is a difficult and complicated area which has been made more difficult by the fact that costs of all of these things have really inflated to such an extent that is probably in nobody's interest least of all the consumer.

Ms Shipley

  122. You want to pay less if your revenues go down. Will you pay more if they go up?
  (Mr Prebble) I suspect that that will follow.

  123. So you would be happy to pay more if they went up.
  (Mr Prebble) Not happy, but we have recognised that. What we will do is sign up to a range of commitments and what we should like to do is have the flexibility to fund those commitments.

  124. Would you consider your children's scheduling to be public service broadcasting?
  (Mr Prebble) Absolutely.

  125. In that case, how do you justify extensive commercials during toddler TV?
  (Mr Jones) The reality of that is that children's television on ITV is the one part of the schedule which does not make money. We have been subsidising it ever since the beginning. If we were not able to take advertising, which is heavily regulated and is massively screened by both the BACC and the ITC, we would struggle to fund children's programming, which contains drama, which contains —

  126. No, I said toddler TV, which does not contain drama or any of those things and is virtually advertising/toddler TV in equal amounts as far as I can see and I see a lot of it.
  (Mr Desmond) The whole area of children's advertising is heavily regulated. We have self-regulation in terms of the BACC which is a clearance facility in terms of what we can say and what claims can be made. We are in regular dialogue with the ITC and the industry as such takes a very clear view in terms of how that is positioned in the market. Over and above that, most children these days—and I have three—are exposed to a huge amount of media, whether it is waking up in the morning —

  127. No, I specifically said toddler TV, so we are talking two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds and extensive commercial adverts being slotted in between, through, around, all the time, a lot of it. Nothing to do with older children, drama or anything like that.
  (Mr Desmond) In terms of scheduling, we do not specifically have a schedule which is aimed at toddler TV. We have a schedule which is aimed at children under eight but not toddler TV.

  128. So if an advertiser came to you and said they wanted to target toddlers, your sales force would not be able to identify that bit of scheduling, they would say, "Gosh, sorry, no".
  (Mr Desmond) Overtly ITV takes quite a small proportion of total children's advertising on television, throughout the UK anyway. Most advertisers are targeting two groups. They tend to aim at children under ten and then children between ten and 16.

  129. So your sales force could not place an advert for a three-year-old. They have no idea. They would have to say, "Sorry, it is under ten or nothing".
  (Mr Desmond) They would not be able to place overtly in that way. In terms of the BACC and how we work with the ITC, having adverts simply aimed at three-year-olds is heavily regulated and would not be allowed in that way.

  Ms Shipley: I am very aware of the regulations.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed for that, gentlemen.

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