BBC Licence Fee Settlement and Annual Report - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

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 organisational layers.

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.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 19 May 2011