ISBA backs Govt move to drop BBC digital fee

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers has welcomed the Government’s decision to reject the digital licence fee and to review the funding of the BBC with a view to increasing its revenue through ’self-help’.

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers has welcomed the

Government’s decision to reject the digital licence fee and to review

the funding of the BBC with a view to increasing its revenue through

’self-help’.



The Government this week agreed to a pounds 3 increase in the licence

fee, bringing its cost to pounds 104 from 1 April with a guarantee that

it will increase above the line of inflation until 2007. The BBC will

get pounds 220 million extra a year for the next seven years,

substantially less than the pounds 3 billion it asked for.



Announcing the decision, the culture secretary, Chris Smith, said he was

committed to ’reviewing the public service role and governance of the

BBC in the forthcoming Broadcasting and Communications White Paper’.



Calls by the commercial TV industry for greater transparency were also

backed by Smith. ’Extra funding must also be accompanied by improved

accountability,’ he said. ’For each extra pounds 1 the BBC receives from

the licence fee, it is expected to generate almost the equivalent

through self-help.’ He added that the BBC had been ’too much the judge

and jury of its own cause’.



A spokesman for the ISBA said: ’There were references to private/public

partnerships. It has been left somewhat open-ended as to how the BBC

will grow its revenue through its commercial services.



’They may need to look afresh at the full range of commercial options

such as sponsorship, advertising and the private and public sector

opportunities to make up the shortfall in revenue.’



Jim Marshall, the chief executive of MediaVest and broadcast spokesman

for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said: ’Given the fact

that the BBC has been told it’s got to define its own priorities, there

is probably a good case for the re-evaluation of its public sector

broadcast responsibilities,’



Zenith Media’s chief executive, Graham Duff, supported Marshall’s

demands.



Duff said: ’I thought that the pounds 24 digital supplement idea was a

nonsense.’



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