The BBC has published its submission to the Government’s consultation on the future of the Corporation. It says the document sets out the case for a new Charter allowing the BBC to continue to serve all audiences, focus investment on British content, and act as the cornerstone of Britain’s creative industries. It also sets out how the BBC will become more open, with more partnerships and collaborative working on everything from the arts to local news provision.
The BBC says the evidence-based response, which runs to over a hundred pages, makes clear the BBC’s commitment to reform, as well as outlining what the corporation can do in the interests of Britain. It also sets out proposals to protect the BBC’s independence.
‘The response shows that the BBC is working well today and helping to grow the creative industries, while acknowledging the need to modernise to respond to changing lifestyles, technology and the media landscape. To that end, we are proposing a radical programme of reform including:
– Increasing competition from two thirds to 80 per cent of our cost base – one of the best in the public sector;
– Planning to save almost 20 per cent over the first five years of the next Charter, having already saved more than 40 per cent of our addressable cost base in this Charter period – with greater levels of efficiency savings than the public sector/government average;
– Getting our overheads to less than seven per cent, inside the top 25 per cent of private regulated companies, having already got to less than eight per cent this year;
– Growing our overall commercial return in the first five years of the next Charter to a cumulative £1.2billion (€.6bn), up 15 per cent, with Worldwide maintained as an integral part of the BBC;
– Buttressing the BBC’s independence by having an 11-year charter and stopping top slicing or contestable funding;
– Removing key guarantees and quotas for BBC programmes, but setting up BBC Studios to maintain the BBC’s tradition of programme making;
– Reform to the BBC’s system of governance and regulation, to provide greater clarity and improved accountability;
– Transforming the BBC’s services to be internet fit, on the way to them being ready for an internet-only world whenever it comes.’
BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: “Every week, the BBC informs, educates and entertains almost everyone in Britain. As the cornerstone of the UK’s creative industries, the BBC is also an engine for growth, supporting jobs and businesses in the wider economy. The public wants a strong – and independent – BBC that produces great programmes, gives them impartial news and ensures Britain’s voice is heard abroad.”
“Our programme of reform will ensure the BBC is fit for the internet age, focused on the things that matter to audiences, continues to support the economy and is an unashamed champion of British talent, content and creativity.“We look forward to working constructively with the Government in the months ahead to ensure the British public continues to have a BBC they are proud of.”
Today’s submission responds to each of the 19 questions posed by the Government on the BBC’s future. It argues there should be no changes to the purposes or scope of the BBC that undermine the BBC’s ability to serve everyone with public service content.
It sets out the distinctiveness of BBC output and how the corporation is an asset to Britain – culturally, economically, and globally. Far from having a negative impact on competition, the BBC is in fact an engine for growth and is the foundation for the best broadcasting system – along with the likes of ITV, Channel 4, Sky and others – anywhere in the world. Rather than crowding others out, the BBC attracts investment in and raises standards.
The document also argues that for the BBC to continue to serve everyone it should carry on offering high-quality programmes across a broad range of genres. This is what the public wants and is in the best interests of the wider industry.
The submission also calls for the Budget funding agreement for the next Charter to be implemented, with no return to top-slicing the licence fee or introducing contestable funding for other Government policy projects. And it proposes an 11-year Charter, which would provide long-term security and decouple decisions about the BBC’s future from the electoral cycle.”