UK MPs to consider PSB future

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The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK’s House of Commons has launched an inquiry which will consider the future of public service broadcasting (PSB) in a digital age.

How PSB is funded, the content offered and how it is regulated will be examined against alternative subscription, streaming services and Freeview services.

In addition to the BBC, other broadcasters with PSB responsibilities are ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and in the devolved regions, STV in Scotland, S4C in Wales and UTV in Northern Ireland.

The inquiry follows several developments that concern the BBC, including the government’s consultation on decriminalising licence fee evasion and the cost of funding free TV licences for those aged over 75 from June. The financial impact on the BBC, including cuts to some parts of its services, will form part of a broader examination of funding models.

Terms of Reference

The Committee invites written evidence from those who wish to contribute to the inquiry on the following areas:

  • Regulation: Are the current regulations and obligations placed on PSBs, in return for benefits such as prominence and public funding, proportionate? What (if any regulation) should be introduced for SVoDs and other streaming services?
  • Representation: How would representation be protected if changes were made to the PSB model? How would the nations and regions be affected by changes to the PSB model? Is the ‘quota’ system the most efficient way to maintain and improve representation in broadcasting?
  • Accessibility: How would changes to the PSB model affect the accessibility of services? How would a wholly internet-based service compare to the current PSB model?
  • Impact: What value, if any, do PSBs bring to the UK in terms of economic (local and national), cultural and societal impact?
  • Looking ahead: What should a PSB look like in a digital age? What services should they provide, and to whom? In what way, and to whom, should they be accountable? Is the term ‘public service broadcasting’ still relevant and, if not, what is a suitable alternative?

The Committee is inviting written submissions by 17.00 on Thursday April 30th 2020.


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