Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the BBC

  You requested a short note setting out how the BBC currently provides for national and regional variations of its public service channels on digital satellite. I am attaching a note which specifies the current arrangements and also sets out our intentions for future carriage which are currently under consideration by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

  We would like also to comment on some of the points made by the commercial radio teams during their oral evidence session with the Committee on 7 February. During that session Emap, in particular Trevor Dann alleged that the BBC's new services would be copies of commercial radio with particular reference to Network "Y". Can I point out that Network "Y" will have a bespoke news service, that it will carry documentaries and social action programming and that it will have a strong emphasis on live performance as well as a playlist some three times as great as any commercial radio station. In addition, Network "Y" will have a clear responsibility to broadcast new performances. In these ways it is neither fair nor accurate for Emap to allege that the proposed BBC's digital radio services would be copies of commercial provision. They simply are not.

  Similarly, our competitors sought to portray our proposed Network "X" as being just a dance music service. As with Network "Y", Network "X" will have a dedicated news service and we will be recruiting new journalists for this network. Network "X" would champion new music from black and urban talent and will therefore be a platform for new talent that has not yet been heard in the UK. It is important to us that Members of the Committee should appreciate that in developing our new digital radio services, we have not sought to copy existing commercial provision but have carefully researched and designed services which will have a distinctive public service ethos in their programming and in their schedules which distinguishes them from existing provision in the commercial marketplace and justifies licence fee investment.

  In addition, the Radio Authority and GWR alleged that the BBC would not promote digital radio until such costs had fallen below £150. This is not true. We are already promoting digital radio and have formed a partnership with commercial radio to achieve this objective as well as forming the Digital Radio Development Bureau. We have led the field in the development of digital radio services and we are committed to it.

  I do hope that the Committee can note these comments.

February 2001

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