Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 282 - 299)


Ms Sue Campbell CBE

  Q282  Chairman: Thank you very much for coming. We have already produced a report on the agenda of the BBC and we are now going into a number of other areas in more depth. One of those is sport. I think you heard some of the evidence that the BBC were giving and I wonder if you could start by giving us a brief summary of what UK Sport aims to do.

  Ms Campbell: I can try. We have three main objectives. Our first is we are responsible for what we call world class success. In other words, we take responsibility for the preparation and development of Olympic and Paralympic athletes moving towards the Olympic and Paralympic Games over each four year cycle. That involves supporting the athletes with funding and all of those things around the athlete: the coach, the sports science, the sports medicine, everything that is required to ensure that our athletes can compete against the best in the world on equal terms. The second area of work is what we call world class standards. We are responsible for all the drug testing on all sports across the United Kingdom and we are also responsible for drugs education. We have a campaign called 100 per cent me in which those athletes, particularly high profile athletes, who are determined to keep sport clean are our role models. We are advocating education and support for young athletes to make sure that people do not end up in a situation where they are taking drugs because of poor advice or poor information. The third area is we are the UK government's arm in international sport development. We call that worldwide impact and our job is to ensure that the representatives of this country are on international sport federations, are properly supported and that we attract major events to this country. Once they become mega events like the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games, they are a matter for government. In the last seven years, we have brought over 100 world or European events to the UK which gives our athletes home advantage and which sports can use to drive participation in their sports.

  Q283  Chairman: How does the BBC impinge on you? Do you work with the BBC? How does the BBC come into your life?

  Ms Campbell: We have a number of ways that we work with the BBC. Probably the one that is best known is the sports summit that we have done with the BBC. That was done both with Sport England and ourselves at UK Sport and the BBC. It was an opportunity for us all to do some active listening to the people who are out there doing sport at the grass roots level. It was an opportunity to get some new, innovative thinking about sports policy, about the way we are implementing strategies on the ground. It was very successful. It is not something we do annually. We have done it biannually and that was a very good piece of collaborative work. It was not just a talk shop. People did leave very clearly with pledges and commitments to action and many of those have been followed up. It did have a significant impact on behaviour as well as on consultation. In terms of our relationship generally with the BBC, we are both public sector bodies in the sense that we are there to ensure success in the sporting arena and our remit is not only to ensure success but to make sure that success cascades down to greater participation. That relationship with the BBC and our ability to broadcast and promote that to many millions of young people is critical to us, so I would say we have a good relationship with the BBC.

  Q284  Chairman: There are a lot of national broadcasters these days. Is it still necessary for the BBC to retain events of national importance like the Olympics?

  Ms Campbell: We believe very strongly that it is. We believe winning the 2012 Olympics will be a profound moment for sport in this country. It is an opportunity for us to really demonstrate the power of sport to affect so many other agendas beyond just the sporting agenda, particularly its impact on education, on community cohesion and on health. It has the power to change many things. We are very eager that the 2012 Olympics is not just a wonderful festival for a number of days in London in 2012 but over the next six or seven years and beyond 2012 we use the opportunity to really galvanise the nation. The BBC's ability to reach people freely in large numbers has to be something that we all need to exploit to maximise this fantastic opportunity.

  Q285  Chairman: You would not get that same advantage by definition with pay for television?

  Ms Campbell: We feel that the route would not be the same. Please do not ask me those tough questions about minority sport. You had a very important conversation about minority sports. There are some sports that would be viewed as minority in terms of audience but would not be minority in terms of participation. Of the sports going into the Olympics, many do not get significant TV time. This could be an opportunity to both widen the range of opportunity and to get more people interested in those sports.

  Q286  Chairman: What kind of sports?

  Ms Campbell: There is slender coverage for sports like volleyball and basketball. Gymnastics gets a little bit of coverage but if you look at the 26 sports, one of our challenges to the BBC going forward was how we widen that menu of sports that they cover because I think it is critical. They are our public broadcasting body. They must find a niche where others will not go and I think they have the potential to provide a wider vision of sport for young people and perhaps to translate that into a stronger educational push for young people. We are very keen to encourage them to widen that remit.

  Q287  Lord Maxton: I would like you at some point to define what you mean by "a sport". What is your linkage between yourselves and other sports bodies, the Sports Council in Scotland, Sport England and Sport Scotland, and presumably Sport Wales and Sport Ireland, because it seems to me you do not have any role in what you have just said in terms of participation in sport at the grass roots level. Would I be right in saying that?

  Ms Campbell: Yes. We have now in England three distinct bodies that are supporting the delivery of the bigger agenda. We have an organisation called the Youth Sport Trust supporting the delivery of the new PE and school sport national strategy which the government is now putting £250 million a year into. It is about galvanising school participation in school sport. We have Sport England and its equivalents in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that pick up, if you like, from the school gates and are responsible for all of that community sport, whether it is the development of clubs and coaches or using sport for intervention purposes in communities for community cohesion or health intervention strategies. They take responsibility for that. Then, UK Sport picks up those athletes that come out of the national programmes into the British, UK programmes. We are responsible for those athletes that are going to compete wearing the GB vest.

  Q288  Lord Maxton: At the Commonwealth Games you will not be covering Scotland?

  Ms Campbell: No. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England all have representatives on our board. We work very closely with them on that level just below that, so that would be the Commonwealth Games level, before they step into GB. Our aspiration would be that they all produce very strong Commonwealth Games teams and our job is to make sure they are all as strong as they can be, but they would all state that one of their major objectives of their own performance strategies is to get as many people into the GB teams as they can. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are very committed to working jointly with us and we have very good relationships with them.

  Q289  Lord Maxton: My concern is participation. There may come a time when all sport is available to all people but at the moment it is widely available to the BBC.

  Ms Campbell: One of the things we have not exploited well enough—and this is our responsibility; I know people talk about these schemes but we have probably not consistently delivered them—is the potential of elite athletes as role models in our communities, working much more effectively. We have been working on a scheme called Changing Lives. One of the other things that is very clear to us is, as elite athletes come off what are now sponsored by state investment programmes, where they have perhaps had eight years investment from us for athlete support grants, they step in and the moment they step out of sport they step into a vacuum unless they have some other career that they have been developing in parallel which we try to encourage them to do. We started a scheme where those athletes that retired from Athens have had the opportunity to work with us for a year, where half their time is spent going into schools for us and half their time is spent helping them develop vocational and educational job opportunities.

  Q290  Lord Maxton: How do you do that with premier league football? Have you a similar scheme for taking the big name footballers out of Chelsea and Arsenal and putting them into schools?

  Ms Campbell: We have not been responsible for the soccer, rugby union, tennis elite programmes to this point. The Secretary of State announced in September that as of 1 April next year we will take responsibility for all elite sport and that will mean we will look to work with premier league, people at the LTA, cricket and rugby union to see where we can support and add value to some of the work that they are doing and to see if we can share some of the good work they are doing with other sports and the good work other sports are doing with them. We still have a lot to do.

  Chairman: We are concentrating very much on the BBC.

  Q291  Lord King of Bridgwater: You were listening to the evidence and you heard my question about cost inflation of trying to cover sport. You have a budget of 29 million?

  Ms Campbell: We have 50 million a year, 29 million from the Exchequer and the rest from the Lottery.

  Q292  Lord King of Bridgwater: For instance, on cricket, the concern is that being denied terrestrial television will stop a lot of young people from getting the interest in cricket that they might. You will be promoting young people in terms of youth teams in cricket and other sports you want people to be interested in. Have you considered putting money into supporting the BBC in their bidding to try and get some terrestrial coverage which would be in line with your objectives as set down in the statute?

  Ms Campbell: We are extremely challenged to achieve our objectives using the 50 million we have and it depends where you put your priorities. I would suggest that the four home country sports councils, whose primary responsibility is to increase participation in the wider sense, might consider it. In terms of our budget, to do what we are doing, we are going to be extremely pressured between now and 2012 to produce the level of performance we want to.

  Q293  Lord King of Bridgwater: It is a question of duplication. Your description of what you are doing for the Olympics is exactly what Lord Moynihan has told us his British Olympic Committee are doing in making sure that we have the athletes and everybody ready to perform. There was recently some comment about a survey that you are doing on various matters. Is that right?

  Ms Campbell: We are the body that receives all the public sector investment that goes into elite sport. The British Olympic Association funds itself essentially through sponsorship and commercial investment. Any public sector investment, any money directly from the Exchequer or any money from the Lottery will be going through UK Sport and it is UK Sport that is both leading and developing the planning of that process.

  Q294  Lord King of Bridgwater: There is duplication, is there not?

  Ms Campbell: I think it is a partnership. I do not think it is duplication. What BOA does extremely well is support the team in its holding camp prior to the Games and looks after the team after the Games. Our job is to take care of the athletes over the four years before they go to the Games.

  Q295  Chairman: Did the fact that the BBC was given such active and positive support for the Olympics bid have quite an impact on the decision?

  Ms Campbell: The BBC is very highly regarded by the IOC. It has given it an award for its coverage in Sydney. Between the Olympics and Paralympics, virtually every other broadcaster exited but the BBC was there and did an outstanding job on the Paralympics. Its commitment to this bid was very important, yes. The work that Lord Coe did was outstanding and one of the strengths of what he did was he made all of us play team sport for the first time and the BBC were part of that team.

  Q296  Lord Kalms: Can you tell me a little bit about your organisation? How big an organisation is it? How many people? What is the structure? You get this allocation from the National Lottery of 21 million. Is it a block grant to you or is it a conditional grant? Do they suggest how you distribute their block allocation to you?

  Ms Campbell: On the organisation, I went in as the reform chair two years ago. We are now down to 70 staff, working in those three areas of work. We had a lot more than that. A great deal of our time is spent out with the governing bodies of sport, helping them with the development of their performance requirements. We put considerable investment into coaching, into our elite coach programme. We are developing sports scientists for the future and we are nurturing new sports medics who can work to support our athletes through injury. We work very closely with the home country institutes in sport. They provide all the service delivery, all those services around sports science and medicine. Our structure is that we have a board made up of the home country chairs and independent, individual members. Below that we have the three sections working both across the UK in terms of making sure we have collaborative working in the home countries and with the governing bodies, making sure we deliver.

  Q297  Lord Kalms: Is the allocation you get from the National Lottery conditional or is it entirely up to you to allocate?

  Ms Campbell: The DCMS would say we have a very clear agreement with them about what our priorities are. Those priorities are in those three areas that I have talked about. We get a percentage of the lottery as a right at the moment and how we use that percentage is against that mission and that programme. We have a very good relationship with the lottery. The BBC have an important role here. We have been able to promote to the public very clearly that it is lottery investment that supports those elite athletes. A lot of those interviews done on BBC television talking about the impact of lottery investment have unquestionably helped support lottery programmes.

  Q298  Bishop of Manchester: You spoke about the significance of the coverage by the BBC at Sydney as being influential in the decision by the IOC to choose London. Presumably therefore there are high expectations of the BBC's coverage for the forthcoming Olympics. Does it worry you at all that the BBC sports department is to move in what might be regarded as a fairly crucial phase? We were hearing this morning that the intention was that they should move and be in place in 2010. Bearing in mind that such projections are not always what turn out to be the case, do you feel that this is a matter of concern to you or are you sufficiently confident in the ability of the BBC to be able to do very good coverage, wherever it happens to be, even if it is in between venues at the time?

  Ms Campbell: We have every confidence that when the BBC covers something it does an extremely good job. It did a tremendous job from Sydney and Athens. I heard them talk earlier about some of the work they did, for example, on the Paralympic World Cup which is a new event happening in Manchester. To be honest, if the BBC had not supported that, we would not have got the sponsor or the event and it would not have been the enormous success it has been. We are confident that where they sit, in terms of their headquarters, should not influence their outside broadcast ability. Most of their outside broadcasts do not happen in London. To a large extent, one of the great messages that Lord Coe is very keen to project is that this is not a London Olympics. This is an Olympics for the United Kingdom. In some ways, you could argue it is a good thing that there is some dispersal of the organisation.

  Q299  Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve: You are a great fan of the BBC but you heard our earlier discussion about the system of bidding for sports rights. Do you have general comments on the way in which that bidding works? Does it concern you when the BBC fails to win or does it concern you when they bid against other terrestrial broadcasters and the price goes up?

  Ms Campbell: The rights holders, which largely are the governing bodies of sport, are caught between maximising audience and maximising income. For those sports that use much of that income they get in grass roots development, it becomes a critical decision. All of us feel that there is overall insufficient investment in sport in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the governing bodies get a certain amount from Sport England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and ourselves. They are constantly wanting to do more, particularly around grass roots development. Sometimes that ability to sell the jewel in their crown in order to generate money to invest in grass roots is a judgment call they have to make and I think it is a very difficult one for them at times. We are eager that there is a balance between supporting what is the growth of commerciality in sport, which brings with it many problems but many bonuses too, and ensuring that we do provide the showcase that we want to encourage and engage lots of people of all ages and aspirations in sport. I would not say we rejoice one way or the other. For us, it is a balancing act all the time about trying to get those two right. Does it always turn out the way we would like? Probably not. We do not intervene. It is very much for the governing bodies and the rights holders to do their own negotiation.

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