Advanced Television

BBC ‘boosts commercial TV’

December 4, 2013

Public service broadcasting promotes a ‘race to the top’ with the commercial sector, according to a new report published by the BBC .

The report explores the impact of public broadcasting on the commercial sector by analysing levels of public and commercial funding, investment in programming, and the diversity and quality of content.

The analysis was conducted by Jonathan Simon of Inflection Point and focused on 14 key global territories, including the Australia, Japan, Brazil and many countries in Europe including the UK.

The key findings of the research show:

  • A strong relationship between public funding and commercial revenues. Territories with higher levels of public funding per head correspond with high levels of commercial revenue (advertising and subscription-based) per head.
  • A positive correlation between expenditure of content and programming by a public broadcaster and its commercial competitors within that territory.
  • Countries in which the main public service broadcaster shows a diverse range of genres and content tend to have commercial channels that also broadcast wide-ranging content. This is especially prevalent in the UK, Germany and Denmark, in particular, which enjoyed the most distinctive schedules on their public and commercial TV channels.
  • A clear correlation between the audiences’ perception of quality of the main public service broadcaster and the main commercial counterpart. Audiences who rated their public service broadcaster as high-quality tended to regard the main commercial channels of that country similarly well.
  • In countries where public broadcasting appears less strong, commercial markets also tend to be weak, as shown in data for Portugal and Italy.

Daniel Wilson, BBC Head of International Policy, says: “The suggestion that the BBC and public service broadcasting crowd out commercial investment misunderstands the dynamics at play in the UK creative sector. In practice, the BBC’s presence has had the opposite effect.

“In the UK, we’ve long seen the BBC and commercially funded broadcasters ‘competing for quality’ whether on the Saturday night schedule or the latest crime drama series.

“This international research suggests that public broadcasting can help halt a lowering of standards and a ‘race to the bottom’ in increasingly competitive global markets.

“Instead, strong public broadcasting spurs a ‘race to the top’ between public and commercial media, raising overall standards across the industry. This contributes towards the sector’s economic success, cultural vibrancy and audience satisfaction.”

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