Supplementary written evidence from the BBC (FLM 59)
Q447 Paul Farrelly: Finally with respect to
plurality there were lots of people vociferously saying as part of our last
report that it was not best served by paying an enormous price for Lonely
Planet. Recently we have read that the option that the founders had to sell the
remaining stake to the
The Wheelers and BBC Worldwide have jointly agreed to defer the exercise period of their 25% put option. The Wheelers continue to play an active role as directors and shareholders in the Lonely Planet business, and BBC Worldwide is delighted that they have agreed to retain their interest at this stage as it strongly believes that this is in the best interests of the business, the BBC and consequently BBC licence fee payers.
As the Committee may have noted, on 24 November 2009 the BBC Trust published its conclusions following a review of the corporation's commercial activity. As a specific point, the Trust stated that it would not expect to consider a commercial deal of the scale and nature of the Lonely Planet acquisition in future. The Trust will want to ensure that BBC Worldwide's plans for Lonely Planet secure the best value for licence fee payers and will keep its long-term future under review.
Q450 Mr Watson: Before I ask my question can I say there are a number of
The new Freeview HD service, bringing HD content to the Freeview platform, launched on 2nd December 2009. The complicated new technology required to launch the service in the limited amount of radio spectrum available, means that, regrettably, consumers will need to buy a new receiver to get the new Freeview HD service. These receivers (both set top boxes and integrated digital TVs) will become available in the shops in early 2010 (they will have a clearly marked Freeview HD logo). It is important to stress that none of this makes exiting Freeview kit obsolete - consumers can carry on watching standard definition services on Freeview receivers. But to watch the new HD services consumers will either need to buy a new Freeview HD set top box to work with existing HD Ready displays or buy a new display with Freeview HD built in.
On content management, the
We offered to provide clarification on the
operation of the
- The operation and membership of the broadcast pool
- Access to the material that is generated
The Press Association have previously raised concerns with us about the operation of the pool. Their principal argument has been that they should be part of the pool operation or have consistent access to the content. The view of the BBC - and ITN and Sky - has so far been that the PA should be able to contribute infrastructure and TV-quality pictures on a similar basis to the others if they want to be part of the pool - we are not convinced that the PA is currently in a position to do this.
However, following discussions, the BBC has agreed with Sky & ITN that all news organisations including the PA should be given access to broadcast pool material and be able to purchase the footage. We communicated this position to PA several months ago and are operating in line with it. We have asked the PA to update the Committee.
Information the Committee may find useful for its inquiry
A sustainable funding model for the provision of Local and regional news
Since the BBC submitted its written evidence to this Committee's inquiry into Regional News, the BBC Trust has published its response to the Digital Economy Bill, which includes two alternatives to top slicing the licence fee as a means of funding IFNCs.
First, it is possible that a new model of local
and regional news can evolve without any need for new public funding. There are
risks in fixing levels of subsidy or in picking winners now, in the midst of
significant changes for the industry. We believe there is a more evolutionary,
deregulatory approach worth examining that could deliver the same or similar
results. As a starting point the
If Government believes that additional public
funding is required to support its preferred regional/local news model, then
there are better alternatives to the licence fee. The options tabled by
Allegations of BBC 'poaching' news stories from Local news providers
We note that in an earlier evidence session to this Committee there was an allegation made that the BBC and other large news agencies sometimes 'poach' their content from smaller, local news providers.
The BBC is a strong and consistent contributor of original local journalism, adding to the mix and diversity of stories available to audiences on television, radio and the web.
This is achieved first through our broadcast
programmes where interviews and items first broadcast on the BBC often lead the
local news agenda. Interviews on the Politics Show and investigations mounted
by the BBC1 current affairs programme Inside Out are common examples. In recent
weeks the West Midlands edition of The Politics Show revealed that 800 jobs
were to be lost at
In London Inside Out revealed that tower blocks had not been properly assessed for safety - followed up by a range of local newspapers.
Our reporters and correspondents also originate
many stories, both in specialist areas and the general daily news environment.
A recent BBC snapshot showed many examples over a one month period of these
stories being followed up and used prominently by local newspapers and
websites. For example, in
We recognise that local newspapers originate more
stories than we ever could. There are many more newspapers, more than a
thousand in the
The BBC is developing ways of offering web users external links to offer them the opportunity to find these stories. This is achieved at present through external links, but we also intend to start offering RSS feeds from other local news providers on our websites.
The nature of journalism is that stories will cross from one medium to another, or be followed up or further developed by competing journalists. When a story is a genuine "exclusive" we encourage our journalists to credit the original provider if following up a story.