What Ofcom's advice means for the BBC

'Keep doing what you're doing,' says watchdog

TODO alt text

The BBC was given a hefty pat on the back by Ofcom in its latest round of advice on the future of broadcasting.

The original British broadcaster was essentially given the green light to continue in the manner that it has been doing.

"Keep the BBC, funded by the licence fee, at the heart of public service broadcasting in the UK with a role in pioneering the development and take-up of content across new digital platforms." says Ofcom.

What does that mean

  • No top-slicing: One of the options given before Ofcom's recommendations was that a percentage of the licence fee be taken away from the BBC and handed to Channel 4 as a means of establishing a strong public service broadcasting (PSB) alternative. But Ofcom threw out this idea in the strongest terms, saying: "We reject 'top-slicing' the BBC's funding for programmes and services,"
  • Selling a stake in Worldwide? Another option would be for Channel 4 to take a stake in BBC Worldwide – a profitable arm of the broadcaster that deals with foreign programme rights and DVD sales. Ofcom has suggested that money from the digital switchover surplus could be used to facilitate this.
  • Monitoring of potential partnerships: One of Ofcom's future goals is "conducting further analysis into the BBC's partnership proposals", which will include "working with the Government and its Digital Britain project across a range of issues, including possible Channel 4 partnerships".

Essentially, the BBC has been told to keep pushing the boundaries of broadcast – as it has with the likes of the iPlayer and BBC HD – and Auntie will be delighted at the point-blank dismissal of proposals to top-slice the licence fee to fund a competitor.