The BBC’s Digital Future

With the BBC’s Royal Charter up for renewal in 2006, the corporation has outlined its vision for the future in a new paper “Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for the Digital World”. Apart from the two ‘the’s and that ‘for’, you can tell every word in the title was chosen in a focus group for maximum effect.

Top of the list are the BBC’s suggestions for regulation – much like BT, the corporation sees that it is better to regulate yourself than have regulation thrust upon you. Obviously, BBC management has been under criticism by the government for recent editorial decisions, and so the corporation is suggesting a reformed board of governors, independent of the BBC and open to scrutiny.

Programmes and BBC services will have to pass a ‘public value test’ before they are approved, and will be tested on quality, impact, value for money and reach. If a programme fails the value test, then the governors will hold the managers responsible to account.

The BBC is also planning to make the complaints process easier and faster, with a more open attitude and active right to reply.

As the UK government is keen to free up the analogue spectrum, the BBC is pushing access to digital services, aiming for a switchover by 2012. The corporation wants to involve the public more in the process, and indeed greater openness and public participation is a common theme throughout the entire document.

Local news, services and properties are also high on the agenda as the BBC is often criticised, often unfairly, of being too London-centric. To combat this, staff are being moved out of London and ultra-local news services are planned for up to 60 British cities.

Finally, the BBC is looking towards more successes with interactive projects – meaning more events like the Big Read, and the launch of a digital curriculum for schools coupled with enhanced learning facilities on BBC Online.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?