Government makes PSB committment

The Government has committed to sustaining public service broadcasting provision “including and beyond the BBC”. Media secretary Andy Burnham (pictured) made the pledge in a speech to the Oxford Media Convention earlier today (January 22).

Responding to yesterday’s Ofcom report into the future of public service broadcasting, Burnham said that terrestrial television should continue to serve the British public and create competition by “driving down costs, improving quality and increasing choice”.

He pledged: “I can say today that the Government will make a firm commitment to sustaining PSB provision including and beyond the BBC.”

Burnham refused to rule out “top-slicing” the BBC licence fee and stressed Ofcom’s plans “will mean a greater role for the BBC as an enabling force of digital Britain – using its talent, facilities, resources and the BBC brand value to add to public service content production as a whole.”

He rejected claims by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers that the report fails to address the “sprawling BBC”.

He added: “We must recognise that the BBC can’t play its enabling role unless it too has stability at the core. We have to treasure and protect the strength of the BBC if we are to ask it to transmit its value to others in new and innovative ways.”

But he reiterated calls for Channel 4 to consider merging or forming a “new relationship” with another commercial organisation.

Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan says: “We entirely support the Secretary of State’s view that partnership is the way forward and agree that it makes sense to look at Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide creating a new model. We believe together we can create an exciting new organisation, with a scale of synergies that go well beyond those already identified and well able to serve the interests of viewers and of Britain as a whole in the increasingly global digital age.”

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