Section Three - Further Policy Issues
This section of the paper covers those issues within the scope of the BBC Charter process which had, at the time of the publication of the earlier version of this policy paper, were still under consideration. In the case of the regulation of the BBC this was because the Clementi review had not yet reported, and in relation to BBC studios, we needed further details to be made available by the BBC before a position could be reached.
Regulation of the BBC
The UK Government's white paper, A BBC for the Future, set out a recommendation to: Appoint Ofcom as the external independent regulator of the BBC , as recommended by the independent review by Sir David Clementi. Ofcom is the widely respected and experienced media and telecommunications regulator.
There have been some concerns raised, through our discussions with stakeholders, about the ability of Ofcom to form an effective regulator for the BBC. This is particularly important, given their current role in the regulation of qualifying spend for the NSR quotas, which could be seen as amounting to a degree of self-regulation by the BBC, who are responsible for investigating any complaints raised and reporting to Ofcom.
The Scottish Government is of the view that Ofcom needs to be adequately resourced, and not from the licence fee, to carry out this function, and this work would need to have sufficient prominence at an operational level given the wide-ranging nature of its current responsibilities.
The external regulation of the BBC by Ofcom is consistent with our policy position, and the commitment to a Service Licence for Scotland from the UK Government delivers on this aspect also. However, the Scottish Government is clear that detailed negotiation will be required with both the BBC and Ofcom to ensure that our policy for the devolution of editorial and commissioning power and budgets is fully reflected.
We have argued that the BBC Studios model should also be carefully considered to ensure that the full impact on the independent sector in Scotland is understood and effective governance is in place.
The UK Government's white paper sets out its intention to: Open the BBC's content commissioning to greater competition, by removing the in‑house guarantee for all television content except news and news - related current affairs. This will provide hundreds of millions of pounds of new opportunities for the independent sector, help drive efficiency savings and provide new creative opportunities for the BBC. The government also provides in-principle support for BBC plans to spin-off its in-house production into a new subsidiary, BBC Studios, opening up new opportunities to produce programmes for the BBC and other broadcasters in the UK and internationally.
The Scottish Government expects that the moves to the BBC Studios model wil be managed carefully and that its development is taken forward in such a way that it makes a positive contribution to the growth and sustainability of Scotland's creative industries and indeed the creative industries of the other nations and regions of the UK. Key to our concerns is that the ability of smaller independent producers to compete for commissions from the BBC in Scotland or at a UK level, or from other broadcasters, is not diminished.
The future of BBC and whether it can remain successful in the longer term is critically dependent, not only on how it engages with the nations and regions but also its role as a key cultural and social influencer in the context of diversity and an ambition to live in a nation that enjoys more equitable outcomes for communities and individuals. We have already touched upon this matter when we set out our expectations regarding social and cultural outcomes but these outcomes could, of course, be delivered outwith the Charter process.
How to Provide Your Views
The Scottish Government would welcome your views on the issues raised in this paper, and will be continuing to engage widely as the process of BBC Charter progresses. Contact details for the policy team are provided below and you are welcome to get in touch direct.
Laura Turney - Head of Policy | E: Laura.Turney@gov.scot
Grant Campbell - Policy Officer | E: Grant.Campbell@gov.scot
Team Contact - |E: Broadcasting@gov.scot
Email: Jo Ewesor, firstname.lastname@example.org