Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fifth Report


1. The BBC, when setting out its manifesto for the future in Building Public Value in June 2004, forecast that:

    "Digital radio and TV audiences will soon have the same flexibility as Internet users to control when and where they watch and listen to programmes. We expect seven in ten homes to be able to schedule their viewing and listening at a time that suits them best by 2016. Many will use personal video recorders (PVRs), which will be able to hold as much as 4,000 hours of content (equivalent to six months of output of a 24-hour television channel), compared to just 40 hours today. At the same time, downloading and file sharing of video and audio from the Internet will become commonplace for many people."[1]

2. Less than three years later, much of that vision has already come to pass, and the predictions for 2016 seem, if anything, conservative. A revolution is underway not just in the way in which we watch television programmes and film but in the way we listen to music, gather news information, and use all forms of creative content: it could be said that the reproduction and dissemination of creative content has come to new life thanks to recent technological developments.[2] This revolution challenges all elements of the delivery chain, from creators themselves through to distributors, broadcasters and consumers. These challenges are largely ones for the market to address and resolve, by adapting, by exploring ways in which it can draw upon what technology can offer and by judging how to meet the public's appetite. There are, nonetheless, roles for regulators and the Government in ensuring an open and fair marketplace, and in preserving a balance between public access to knowledge and ideas on the one hand and the right and ability of creators and rights holders to exploit full commercial value from creative products on the other. This report is about those challenges, roles and balances.

3. The inquiry was announced in November 2005. The terms of reference were:

—  The impact upon creative industries of recent and future developments in digital convergence and media technology;

—  The effects upon the various creative industries of unauthorised reproduction and dissemination of creative content, particularly using new technology; and what steps can or should be taken—using new technology, statutory protection or other means—to protect creators;

—  The extent to which a regulatory environment should be applied to creative content accessed using non-traditional media platforms; and

—  Where the balance should lie between the rights of creators and the expectations of consumers in the context of the BBC's Creative Archive and other developments.

4. We received submissions from bodies representing creators' interests, distributors of creative content, broadcasters, regulators, providers of media services based upon new technology, libraries, public bodies with responsibilities for film, arts and collections, Government, and interested individuals. By far the larger part of this evidence is printed along with this report.[3] Many gave oral evidence in a series of eight sessions between May and November 2006. We have also benefited from informal presentations on new technology and services both in the UK and in Korea. We are grateful to all those who have helped us, and we owe a particular debt to our Specialist Adviser on broadcasting, Mr Ray Gallagher, for his guidance.

5. This has been a particularly stimulating and challenging inquiry. The terrain covered has been vast, not least because of the incredible range of the creative industries and the complexities of technological innovation. In addition, the speed of technological change in this area is such that even during the course of our inquiry, developments provided answers to some of the questions we originally posed while also provoking new ones. The evidence has taken us into many distinct policy areas, including support for the creative industries, regulation of content, policy on allocation of spectrum, and, above all, copyright and the protection of intellectual property. We could have held an in-depth inquiry into any one of these areas (and may well do so at some point in the future). We have instead chosen to take an overview and to try to identify strands common to different sectors within the creative industries. This report does not claim to be an exhaustive analysis of any of the areas covered; and there are some subjects on which evidence was sought but little was submitted, such as fashion and design. We hope, however, that we have succeeded in enabling views to be aired and in making useful recommendations in advance of the forthcoming Green Paper on the creative industries.

1   Building Public Value, page 51 Back

2   See Design and Artists Copyright Society Ev 54 Back

3   HC 509-II, Session 2006-07 Back

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