Advertisers have given a lukewarm response to Ofcom’s report into the future of public service broadcasting, published this morning (January 21). The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers says the report fails to address the “sprawling BBC”.
ISBA says that the report does not address the BBC’s dominance of PSB funds or open up competition. Bob Wootton, ISBA media and advertising director Bob Wootto, says: “It is already clear that the market cannot sustain the current level of public intervention in the form of the sprawling BBC. This report does not serve to resolve that key issue.”
He adds: “Even taking into account the relaxations to ITV’s current obligations, it is difficult to see quite how the further intervention options proposed might sustain a viable, let alone thriving future UK broadcast system”.
The report rejected previous proposals to “top-slice” the BBC licence fee for PSB programmes or services, instead supporting the BBC’s role “at the heart of PSB” and arguing it should retain this position through the licence.
However, it does reduce PSB commitments for ITV and Five so both can be freed up to make “entertaining, engaging UK content”.
Broadcasters cautiously welcomed the report. Andy Duncan, chief executive of Channel, says: Ofcom strongly endorses the value of public service broadcasting, the need for competition with the BBC and the central role of a publicly-owned Channel 4 with its ‘established track record of delivery’, at the heart of a ‘financially robust alternative provider of public service content’.
“We look forward to further conversations with the BBC and Government to move this forward so that we, as a country, can move from the words to the actions.”
Five’s chair and chief executive, Dawn Airey, adds: “It’s good to see Ofcom recognising the contribution Five makes and can continue to make in public service broadcasting – whether as an independent commercial player or as a partner in a new body that also includes Channel 4.”