Examination of Witnesses (Questions 677-679)|
MONDAY 24 JUNE 2002
677. It may be flippant, but true, that I can
only receive Channel 5 through satellite. The question that I
would like to ask you is about the role of the Content Board.
You appear to want the Content Board to be a reincarnation of
ITC. Would not confining the main Board to economic issues in
the broadcasting field undermine the entire value of a single
(Ms Airey) We do not want to see the
current regulation simply reproduced. We believe it is very important
for OFCOM to be lean and mean; and, equally, it is important for
the Content Board to have a degree of autonomy so that it does
not have to bog down OFCOM with every single content issue that
comes its way. Clearly, where there are points of principle, they
should be referred up, and it will all come down to the detail
of the relationship between the Content Board and OFCOM, and there
will always be matters of import that need to be referred up.
One of the things that gave us comfort in the Bill was the fact
that the Chairman of the content Board would come from OFCOM,
so there would be a continuum between the two boards.
Lord Hussey of North Bradley
678. You "strongly disagree" with
the suggestion that the Consumer Panel should have a role in relation
to public service broadcasting. Would you wish to see the Bill
drafted so as to exclude the consumer Panel from considering content
(Ms Airey) To be frank, yes, we would. We think the
Consumer Panel has a very useful role to play in terms of platform
access and content, but not content-related issues. The reason
why we think it should be restricted to economic and platform
issues is that it becomes double jeopardy for the broadcaster,
and also, probably more importantly, is confusing to the viewer.
Where do they send their complaint to? The BSC and the ITC currently
have relatively clear delineations in terms of responsibilities,
but even that causes confusion with the viewer, so we would like
to see the two very discrete powers.
679. I follow the argument, and it is a very
intelligent one, but it seems to me to be rather odd. Why write
a report on a restaurant without eating a meal in it?
(Ms Airey) It comes back to the point I tried to make
earlier, which is that everybody can have a say on everything.
We are trying to maintain a lean, efficient OFCOM, so that is
something that Channel 5 would hope that this Committee supports.
We do have anxieties that the size of OFCOM might become rather