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TV chief defends ‘distinctive’ BBC

March 8, 2016

By Colin Mann

Charlotte Moore, Controller, BBC TV Channels and iPlayer, has delivered a strong defence of the Corporation’s programme making and dismissed a suggestion by Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale that it had become less distinctive.

Speaking at an event hosted by BBC Director-General Tony Hall and Charlotte Moore for writers, actors, industry and media, Moore shared her vision in her new role and talked about how she sees the channels working together now and in the future. She also announced a range of new programmes which signal the direction of travel.

At the outset, she wanted to say one thing “loud and clear….I don’t recognise – and more importantly neither does the public recognise – what the Secretary of State said about BBC One last week. I don’t think it’s my job to get involved in political debates. It is my job to ensure that the BBC offers great, distinctive programmes that are both high-quality and popular. And I feel compelled to comment on the suggestion that BBC One has become less distinctive in recent years,” she declared.

“Ofcom’s data, backed up by our own, shows that BBC One is the most distinctive popular channel on television. And it’s been my mission over the last three years to make it so. Thanks to many of you here tonight, we’ve pushed distinctiveness and risk-taking through everything we do,” she said.

“I’m not sure how much more distinctive the last few weeks could have been – with new shows like The Night Manager, our mental health season, David Attenborough’s Giant Dinosaur, Dickensian, War and Peace – not to mention the return of Happy Valley. I promise there’s more to come.”

“Last week the Secretary of State quoted a report that a more distinctive BBC One would have a smaller audience. But I’ve found that the more ambitious and pioneering we are, the more the audience rewards us. And shouldn’t we want that? If programmes are distinctive, we don’t want fewer people watching them,” she stated.

“It’s an old but a very good quote: ‘We’re here to make the good popular and the popular good’. “So why would I steer the BBC down a path where I make the good unpopular? It would be the public who would lose out,” she warned. “For me, popular television and distinctive television belong together. And I’m taking that attitude forward to all our channels,” she averred. “Risk-taking, innovation and originality has to apply to everything we make. Across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four – and iPlayer.”

“I’m excited about the potential we have now, working together, across all our channels and iPlayer to give people the most ambitious, exciting and distinctive range of programming ever. Programmes that inform, educate, entertain and inspire. Risk taking, innovation and originality has to apply to everything we make. I’m making a commitment to you all tonight that we’re going to be open, collaborative and agile. I’m going to make sure our channels complement each other,” she declared.

She said that a simpler, co-ordinated approach to commissioning decisions would deliver more creative opportunities, a greater diversity of distinctive, ground breaking programmes and – crucially – quicker decision-making for all. “We’ll be much better placed to curate a journey for ideas and talent across the portfolio. BBC iPlayer will have an increasingly important part to play in the BBC’s future. I want to grow iPlayer in the future and will explore more premieres and how we reach new audiences,” she stated.

In closing, she said the licence fee gave the BBC the creative freedom to work with the creative community in ways that no-one else could. “I want to make the most of that. From now on, we’re going to be the most distinctive we have ever been.”


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