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UK PSB overhaul call

January 15, 2010

The BBC must undergo a radical overhaul and Channel 4 should be privatised, a think tank has said in a report on the future of UK broadcasting. The centre-right Policy Exchange said the BBC should cut the amount it spends on sports rights, popular entertainment and shows for 16 to 35-year-olds. It also urges the government to drop its controversial “broadband tax”.

The report recommended licence fee money should be spent on Channel 4 or E4, rather than BBC3, in order to reach 16 to 35-year-olds. And it called for BBC Worldwide, which is the corporation’s commercial arm, to be privatised and the BBC Trust to be scrapped.

Policy Exchange said a Public Service Content (PSC) Trust should be set up to promote public service broadcasting across all TV, radio and broadband. It would lead the way in tasks such as monitoring the delivery of BBC services and reviewing the effectiveness of the BBC’s co-funding obligations.

Mark Oliver, the author of the report called Changing the Channel, was previously the BBC’s head of strategy and has advised the government. He said: “The current UK broadcasting system was set up in the 1950s and now struggles to keep up with the extraordinary changes of the digital age. It is clear that the 20th Century analogue institutions that were created are now worryingly out of date.We need a dramatic rethink if we are to continue to deliver public service broadcasting in an entirely new age.”

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