Memorandum by the Broadcasting Entertainment
Cinematograph and Theatre Union ("BECTU")
1. BECTU has already submitted evidence
to the current inquiry into the Green paper. We note that this
will be considered relevant to the extended inquiry without any
need for resubmission.
2. Against this background of our earlier
submission, we wish to submit some additional brief comments on
some of the points raised in the extended inquiry.
3. We have a clear interest in the issue
of the proposed move to Manchester and BBC decentralisation. Our
views can be summarised as follows:
4. We support, in principle, an increased
emphasis on production in the Nations and Regions. We believe
such production should be genuinely rather than notionally based
outside London ie using staff, freelances and facilities based
locally rather than brought in from London. We accept, as a consequence
of this that there will need to be a relocation of some resources
from London to the Nations and Regions.
5. This represents a potentially large redeployment
of the BBC's most important resourceits staff. In our view,
the crucial issue is the manner in which any such redeployment
is to be achieved. The transition to "a BBC which is less
London-centric" should, in its implications for staff, be
subject to a number of basic principles:
Relocation should be voluntary rather
The transition should be accomplished
without net job losses for the BBC as a whole.
The procedures and terms for any
such relocation should be subject to full consultation with the
relevant trade unions.
6. These issues are, in our view, not marginal
but central to the BBC's ability to achieve its aim of a significantly
increased level of activity in the Nations and Regions. The project
will ultimately stand or fall on the Corporation's ability to
redeploy its human recourses to achieve this. We believe that
early agreement on the underlying principles for managing such
a transition is therefore both desirable and necessary for the
project's success. We hope such agreement can be achieved and
that the Corporation can move forward to a more active role in
representing the Nations and Regions of the UK.
BBC WORLD SERVICE
7. The future role and development of the
World Service was referred to in the Green Paper and we have a
clear interest on behalf of our members working in this area.
8. Our view, in summary, is that we support
the retention of the World Service as a Government-funded area
of the BBC. We see no justification for reducing the number of
vernacular languages it broadcasts in but would welcome the development
of television as well as radio services.
THE BBC AS
9. We very strongly believe that the future
of the BBC is as a producer and commissioner of programmes rather
than solely as a broadcaster. We would particularly emphasise
the Corporation's role as a producerand would therefore
query the heading in the call for evidence which poses the issue
as "The BBC as commissioner versus broadcaster".
10. Some of our background arguments are
set out in paragraphs 3-4 and 17-21 of our initial submission.
We believe that the BBC's role as our benchmark public service
broadcaster will become more not less relevant in the fragmented
digital future and that such a role can be sustained only if the
Corporation retains a critical mass of in-house production capacity.
Additional arguments for a strong in-house production base in
the digital future have been well set out in the recent report
from the Work Foundation.
11. We believe that the BBC can better involve
the public in its decision-making process through greater accountability
and openness in its system of governance. Some useful proposals
were put forward in the Green paper when discussing the operation
of the proposed BBC Trust ie meeting in public; webcasting of
meetings; publication of minutes/research; and publication of
voting records. We believe that by demystifying proceedings in
this way, Trust members could win greater public confidence.
12. We further believe that further consideration
needs to be given to the balance and composition of the Board
of Governors or of any future Trust. We favour a system in which
Governors/Trust members would be more broadly representative of
the country as a whole. Within any such system we specifically
believe there should be some representation from among those who
work in or for the BBC.
13. We look forward to the further progress
of the Committee's Inquiry and to the publication of the Committee's