VIDEO. The UK communications regulator Ofcom has set out its proposals for the future of public service broadcasting. The current obligations placed on ITV, Channel 4 and Five would be relaxed, allowing them to concentrate on the production of original UK programmes, though Channel 4 would be maintained as a public service alternative to the BBC.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said the proposals were designed to carry public service broadcasting into the digital environment. “The transition from the analogue era to the digital era offers public service broadcasting the opportunity to make the most of broadband, to make the most of mobility, to make the most of interactivity and all the wonderful services that digital makes possible.”
One idea is the use of online to deliver local news and television services. Local broadcasting remains an area that the regulator would like to develop, and the suggestion that broadcast spectrum should be set aside for the genre is also on the table.
Ofcom’s preference is to maintain Channel 4 as an alternative public broadcaster through partnerships or mergers. However, the regulator does not give a view over whether it prefers a merger with the RTL-owned Five or with BBC Worldwide. Both options have been flagged in recent weeks.
Ofcom Video Briefing with chief executive Ed Richards
Top slicing the BBC Licence Fee is now largely off the agenda, but the possibility of allocating the annual £130 million (€141.5 million) so-called “digital surplus” remains a potential source of funding for public service content outside the remit of the BBC.