Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Written Evidence

Memorandum by Professor Phil Redmond CBE


Q1:  Should the BBC have a duty to bid for certain sports events?

  The BBC should only have a duty to bid for coverage of sporting occasions that pass a cultural imperative test. ie: are they of interest to the nation as a whole and/or the occasion is/will not be adequately covered elsewhere; are they minority sports receiving no commercial exposure; are they developing sports that needs promoting and encouraging? This should be a wider test than the "protected events" criteria.

  However, if and when the BBC does decide to bid for such events, to reduce high prices paid for access (which must come from the Licence Fee); there is also no need for the BBC to have exclusive rights to such occasions. They should be free to explore the partnership possibilities in sharing resources with commercial broadcasters and, as a consequence, also receive either free access to such events or share in sponsorship revenue for exposure on the PSB platforms. This is not the same as competing for rights.

Q2:  Is the BBC too aggressive in the way it bids for sports rights?

  The BBC is probably as aggressive as the market demands.

Q3:  Should there be an independent review of the way the BBC bids for sports rights?

  There should be an independent enquiry taking on board the comments made in Q1 above.


Q1:  Does the BBC's proposed move to Manchester represent value for money for the licence payer?

  The proposed move to Manchester is probably not value for money as it mainly involves relocating people from one centre to another with all the concomitant costs and difficulties that will entail. It would be far better to change policy and allow the staff at the existing regional centres to change their focus so that they can supply programming from the regions to the centre. This would not require huge upheaval and relocation costs.

Q2:  Should the BBC continue to decentralise?

  The BBC should continue to decentralise but the definition of the term needs close scrutiny. Decentralisation is not relocating existing structures to newer buildings.

Q3:  Should the BBC move towards "ultra-local" services?

  The BBC should not move to ultra-local services as this would require resources far beyond what would be politically acceptable, for both government and Licence Fee payers. The BBC should retain its role as national public service broadcaster but should look to using that position as a collator and disseminator of cultural agendas.

Q4:  If so, what form should such services take?

  The BBC should not supply ultra-local services as it will never have sufficiently strong roots in local communities to make them efficient and relevant.

Q5:  Should the BBC provide stand-alone local services or work in partnership with other non-profit distributing organisations?

  The BBC should not provide stand alone services but should work in partnership with local community groups. In areas such as training and media aggregator.


  [No response submitted]


  [No response submitted]


Q1:  In the context of the digital revolution is the future of the BBC principally as a producer and commissioner of high quality programming or as a broadcaster?

  In a future digital world the term broadcaster will become redundant as consumers will migrate to whatever digital medium they feel most with whether that be radio, television, PDA, phone etc. The role for the BBC will be to act as content aggregator and provide a safe and trusted portal for consumers to use. This tends to suggest that the future will be as commissioner. It will be forced by technological change with only the rate of change slowed by political moderation.

  The digital switchover, in terms of consumers using digital platforms has probably already happened in most homes, with the challenge being to ensure universal social inclusion to online services rather than the form that broadcast television takes.


Q1:  What more can the BBC do better involve the public in its decision making processes?

  The BBC can connect better in three ways:

    —  by looking to digital technology to develop new methods of interactive monitoring of output, or future output, in the form of computer analysis of digital responses through websites etc, in much the same way that major retailers monitor customer preferences through loyalty cards;

    —  by including an annual questionnaire with each Licence Fee renewal demand/notice; and

    —  by regionalising its governance by setting up devolved boards/trusts to represent the BBC in each region as well as monitor output in each nation and region—with the Chairs of those boards coming together to form the national governors or Trustees. That way the nations and regions would better support the BBC's national role.

10 October 2005

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