8 The way ahead |
104. The last year has been an historic one for
the BBC because of the unprecedented nature of the settlement
concluded against the backdrop of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
It is not a process that we would like to see repeated. It has
left the BBC with a number of disparate activities that do not
fit obviously with its core mission, and which threaten to alter
its unique status as a publicly funded broadcaster of public service
content. We had hoped that the long-running strategic review would
have redefined the role of the BBC in a new era of digital broadcasting.
In fact, the impression we are left with is one of unfinished
business. Against this background, in January 2011, Mark Thompson
launched a new initiative Delivering Quality First
to identify how the BBC can deliver the commitments outlined
in Putting Quality First within the new financial parameters
established under the new licence fee settlement. The BBC is now
consulting on how to make savings and deliver quality first, before
presenting formal recommendations to the BBC Trust in the summer.
As part of the ongoing progress, In March 2011, Mark Thompson
outlined twenty-one areas for possible cutbacks, including: daytime
services on BBC 2; local radio services outside peak times; and
105. Particularly when set against
the additional responsibilities and financial challenges of the
new settlement, the strategy review Putting Quality First did
not move the BBC on to the extent required by current circumstances.
Big questions remain as to how radically the BBC will need to
re-configure both its content and the way in which it delivers
its content in the years ahead. There is much for Lord Patten,
the incoming Chairman of the BBC Trust, to get to grips with,
and we look forward to hearing his views, alongside those of his
Director General, in future oral evidence sessions.