Freedom of Choice: Public-Service Broadcasting and the BBC

Tony Ball

in Television Policy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748617173
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671113 | DOI:
Freedom of Choice: Public-Service Broadcasting and the BBC

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In this lecture, the author, former chief executive of BSkyB, cites a National Opinion Poll survey indicating that the BBC licence fee no longer represents good value for money. With BSkyB, at the time of writing, reaching seven million homes offering viewers an ‘explosion of choice’, the author argues that it is time to reassess the relationship between broadcasters and government, as well as the character of public service broadcasting. He underpins his argument by insisting that public funding offers no ‘sure-fire guarantee of quality’, and that publicly funded television must work harder than ever to justify its subsidy. The author calls for a limit to be imposed on television programmes which ‘clearly fall outside any reasonable remit for a publicly funded broadcaster’. He also proposes a system of ‘programme syndication’ in which commercial broadcasters would be given an opportunity annually to bid in a competitive auction for the programme rights to ‘half a dozen or so’ established BBC programmes.

Keywords: BBC; subsidy; funding; programme syndication; commercial broadcasters; public service broadcasting; BSkyB; licence fee; television programmes

Chapter.  3733 words. 

Subjects: Television

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