Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-99)|
WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 2002
80. There is also a balance where some areas
cannot receive DTT and until they can you cannot see what you
are doing, so it is chicken and egg to some point?
(Mr Dyke) There are two problems with DTT. We are
still going to end up with the situation where 20 per cent of
the population could receive it but will not be able to because
they have not got good enough aerials. All the testing done in
advance assumes that you have the up-to-date aerial, whereas most
aerials have been there twenty or thirty years on the roof, so
there is the problem of the aerials. There is then the problem
of the 20 per cent of population which at the moment cannot receive
it at all, and we have all sorts of quite interesting ways where
on the day in time you can change that but that comes to the day
of switch-off. The point is how do you make sure people have got
the equipment the day before when they could not receive the signal,
and that is one for the government and not us.
81. But given the dilemma that exists around
the service that lots of people cannot get, what guarantees will
you make to the Committee about the 8 per cent of your budget
of the licence fee presently spent on digital programmes? How
much will that increase as a result of your DTT programming commitment?
What is the cap on that figure?
(Mr Dyke) When we got the licence fee increase there
were four criteriaand these were laid down. The Government
cannot tell us but the Secretary of State encourages us. One was
BBC1; one was education; one was nations and regions i.e. outside
London, all of which we have increased significantly, and the
fourth was interactive and digital programming. There will not
be in the remaining period of this Charter a significant increase
in our spend on digital services because there is not any more
money as a percentage. That is unless we get BBC3. BBC3 will be
a jump and after that you will not see an increase.
82. A jump by how much?
(Mr Dyke) I think Choice costs us £50 million
and I think it is about £90 million, so it is about £40
83. Just quickly, you were saying that News
24 has had a bigger audienceI do not know whether it is
reach or share but bigger audiencein the last few months
but you were saying it is because it has a million other people
watching it on DTT?
(Mr Dyke) I doubt whether there is a million watching
on DTT these days.
84. But were you telling the Committee it had
a bigger share because it is on digital and on DTT, whereas Sky
is only on?
(Mr Dyke) Exactly.
85. So it is not entirely fair?
(Mr Dyke) Exactly. It was mea culpa, not yours. I
was saying, yes, but you have to be careful because they are not
in DTT homes but because of the services they are going to put
on the Crown Castle licence you will see Sky News on there and
that will change the audience base again, and I suspect Sky will
be there or thereabouts. Our hope is that you can get five million
DTT homes over about five years.
(Mr Davies) I think the trend, just to be clear, is
that News 24 has been gaining viewers relative to all the other
86. Because you give it away free on lots of
(Mr Dyke) So is Sky News, of course.
Chairman: We must move on.
87. As you know, the Chairman requires us to
have a page reference so I am really pleased to have spotted on
page 6 a logo for CBeebies which gives me the opportunity to congratulate
you on an excellent launch which I attended, and stayed for hours
and hours which is incredibly rare for me, and you know why I
stayed for hours, I am sure, and it was very good, in Battersea
Park as I recall. I will now move on to refer to page 56, where
there is a nice little picture of the Tweenies. I asked ITV executives
when they came whether they did public service broadcasting for
children and they said, "Oh, yes, all their children's television
was public service broadcasting", and I said, "How do
you justify all the advertising", and they squirmed all over
the place and are continuing to squirm. Now, in your case, you
are public service broadcasting for childrenexcellentbut
what about all that nasty merchandising? How do you justify that?
(Mr Davies) It is something that does sometimes worry
me. If I thought that CBeebies especially but also CBBC existed
in any sense to promote merchandising as a prime objective I would
be very concerned indeed, but I think it is different if we are
making programmes which are successful for young childrenand,
like you, I have young children. To make available the potential
to purchase soft toys does not strike me as stepping over the
threshold of unacceptable commerciality but it does need to be
watched and I know exactly what you mean having young children
88. I would certainly say it is not in the league
of all the teeth-rotting stuff that surrounds things like Blue
Bear and that sort of really seriously dangerous, I find, appalling
food advertising around ITV's programming for little children,
but it is commercialising children's television and merchandising.
I take your point that you are concerned so at what point would
you say the BBC would have to stop? Where is its threshold?
(Mr Davies) Certainly if the impulse for the programme
was going in the wrong direction, in other words if BBC Worldwide
were desirous of selling soft and cuddly toys and they then persuaded
CBeebies to make a programme which essentially helped them do
that, that would be the wrong way round.
89. So where structurally does that very wide
comment come into your organisation? Who is aware that it is that
(Mr Davies) Both sides are very aware. It is in the
commercial guidelines given to both sides. If it were the other
way round, I know Greg would be concerned and so would the Governors.
90. What about the sheer quantity of merchandising
that is packaging programmes now? Have you a threshold for that?
(Mr Davies) What do you mean?
91. Well, if you have a successful programme
like the Tweenies, there is a massive amount of merchandising
around it. Where is your threshold? How far would you go?
(Mr Dyke) We look at the quality and we look at what
is being done until we think it is beneficial, rather than necessarily
92. Beneficial? It might be nice or it might
be firm, but beneficial for whom?
(Mr Dyke) You are not including videos then? Because
videos are massively beneficial to children. I have just got through
that age, my children are getting too old, but we know children
watching videos for the 92nd time
93. Beneficial to parents!
(Mr Dyke) Yes, but a lot of the programming we produce
and commission for children of that age has an educational input.
94. And the bags and the beakers and the merchandising.
(Mr Davies) I know exactly where you are coming from,
Ms Shipley, and I have a lot of time for where you are coming
from. However, another way of looking at it would be that many
families would find it odd if Disney were making Mickey Mouse
available in the same way and the Tweenies or the Teletubbies
were not at all available when their kids wanted them, so I think
you have to look at it from that angle as well.
95. So where is your threshold?
(Mr Davies) I do not think we have overstepped it
on the Tweenies or the Teletubbies but we have to keep it in
96. You would not know if you have overstepped
it because you do not know where it is.
(Mr Davies) I do. I have a lot of Tweenies and Teletubbies.
97. So where is it then?
(Mr Davies) I am not sure I can define it. I cannot
measure it in terms of Teletubbies.
(Mr Dyke) We have a system whereby everything that
is going to be marketed related to a product comes in to a department
who look at it and say, "Do we think this is in any way damaging?",
so they lay down a threshold.
98. So you have a quality threshold but not
a quantity one?
(Mr Dyke) That is right.
99. At the top of page 56 it says that commercial
activities contributed over £100 million to the BBC. Is that
(Mr Davies) No.
(Mr Dyke) It is cash coming into the BBC.
(Mr Smith) It is net cash coming from all our commercial