NS calls for limitation of BBC's activities

The Newspaper Society, representing the regional press, has said the BBC charter review must define the limitations of the corporation’s public service and commercial activities.

In its submission, by political affairs director Santha Rasaiah, the NS said: “The review must address how the BBC’s publishing and online freedom should be more tightly confined and indeed how the BBC should be constrained from unfair competition with the private commercial sector.”

It said the Government ought to consider: 

The role of the BBC as publisher of newspapers and magazines.
The role of the BBC as publisher of electronic newspapers and magazines.
The role of the BBC in the advertising, sponsorship and related markets.
 Introducing public service obligations that require the BBC to make its television and radio listings free and freely available, above and beyond the   requirements of the current legislation.

The submission also contains the regional newspaper industry’s “wider concerns” about the BBC’s online activities.

It called for “clearer separation of licence fee-funded and commercial activities with transparency of any cross-subsidy, policed by more rigorous controls, underpinned by public audit”.

The NS also urged undertakings that would ensure the BBC “does not publish regional newspapers, nor create and cross-promote a publicly funded network of regional and local electronic newspapers, in direct competition with the regional press and its online activities”.

It also called for controls that prevent the BBC from developing its local and regionally targeted online or digital services in a way detrimental to its private sector competitors.


ITN has called for more external scrutiny of the BBC by Ofcom, “clear remits for all BBC services and greater transparency and accountability” in its response to the charter review, writes Wale Azeez.

It demanded new BBC services submit to a “market impact test” by Ofcom, and reiterated a call for the corporation’s annual report to be more transparent about commercial operations including BBC Worldwide, and their degree of separation from the licence fee.

ITN chief executive Mark Wood said: “The next BBC charter must not allow the BBC to stifle innovation. If the BBC is able to launch new services unfettered and without proper scrutiny, it will leave its commercial competitors with little oxygen to develop new services. We need to be able to compete on a level playing field rather than face the prospect of a BBC juggernaut in every market.”

By Jon Slattery

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