Convention turns spotlight on public service broadcasting model

The future of the 80-year-old model for public service broadcasting was under the spotlight at the Oxford Media Convention, today [Thursday 17 January].

BBC Trust chair Sir Michael Lyons said the audience’s needs must be at the heart of the debate on the future of public service broadcasting.

He called for “a fully formed debate” before any suggested solutions, like “top slicing” the BBC’s licence fee for other public service broadcasting purposes, were agreed to.

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Media regulator Ofcom had been considering a number of ways to reform the system in an age of mobile and broadband technology.

But culture secretary James Purcell , speaking at the convention, warned against an “arts council of the airwaves” that would distribute funding for public service broadcasting.

The idea, a way of providing public service broadcasting outside the BBC, had been mooted by MPs last year as a way to fill the gap in public service broadcasting created by the digital age.

 Also at the convention, Ofcom said it was not creating a public service publisher, an idea it first mooted last year as a way to invest public funds in broadband content.

Tom Loosemore, the regulator’s senior adviser for digital media said the idea had merely been “a rock in a pool”, meant to make traditional broadcasters think of fresh ways to face the broadband, internet and mobile challenge.

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