DCMS response to supplementary Lords report on BBC Charter

Response (12 pages, PDF), published by the DCMS, to specific issues raised in the supplementary report of the Lords Select Committee on the BBC Charter review, which had been published in March 2006.

The Government confirms its desire for BBC licence fee income to be used to fund help for vulnerable groups in the run-up to digital switchover, but does not offer much by way of an explanation for its rejection of the Lords reports' recommendation that such help should instead be funded through general taxation. The response mentions that it is an objective of digital switchover that the BBC digital services should be available to all licence fee payers but does not expand on this point. Similarly, the response highlights the "leadership role" that the Government has given the BBC in the completion of digital switchover; however, if this leadership role carries with it the responsibility of subsidising digital reception equipment for vulnerable groups, the Government has not explained why the BBC should play this role.

On the matter of the market impact of BBC services, the Government response identifies a recommendation in the Lords report that, as part of the application of the Public Value test to be undertaken by the BBC Trust, interested parties should be entitled to appeal to Ofcom against the findings of the market impact assessment "if they are able to show prima facie well reasoned and evidenced grounds for such an appeal". The Government response does not address this point directly, but notes that Ofcom would itself be responsible for providing the market impact assessment to the BBC Trust. The white paper on the BBC Charter 2007-2016 does not make any specific allowance for appeal on the substance of a market impact assessment.

Filed under BBC, DCMS, Media, Ofcom.

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