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09/02/2001

BECTU CALL FOR BBC GOVERNORS SEPARATION

ALTHOUGH BECTU have welcomed the continuation of the separate and independent regulation of the BBC through the Board of Governors, they have called for a "clear and meaningful separation of the Governors from the management of the BBC".
Whilst OFCOM, will take over all the present functions of the existing regulatory bodies, under the terms of the Communications White Paper the BBC Governors will continue in their existing role.
BECTU’s full and considered response to the Communications White Paper, as well as responding to the proposed regulatory structure, also focuses on ownership, regional production, universal access, the Internet, programme standards, public service broadcasting and equal opportunities and labour market issues.
BECTU argue that content and programming are key issues, and that the explosion of broadcasting hours made by possible by digital technology could lead to quality programming losing out.
The Union have called for a distinct and identifiable department within OFCOM to deal with content regulation, and for clear and transparent means of conflict resolution with OFCOM’s economic objectives.
BECTU commend the commitment in the White Paper to consultation with workers in the industry and to better links with Wales and Scotland and the English Regions.
Public service broadcasting must remain at the core of British broadcasting argue BECTU. The Union want a much more proactive role for OFCOM on issues of programme range and quality than proposed in the White Paper, with OFCOM actively monitoring and enforcing programme requirements rather than using "backstop" powers if broadcasters fail to respond adequately.
On cross-media ownership the union opposes the removal of the '20-20 rule,' which bars a company with more than 20 per cent of the national newspaper market from owning more than 20 per cent of a terrestrial broadcaster.
The White Paper suggests replacing the 15 per cent limit on TV audience share. BECTU takes a firm stand against joint ownership of ITV and Channel 5 and argues that any abolition of the 15 per cent limit should only be with a much stronger commitment to regional broadcasting and production in ITV.
BECTU seeks strong regional obligations on ITV companies to guarantee regional production and transmission and retain staff.
With the trend towards the takeover of independent production companies by broadcasters the union calls for a re-examination of the definition of 'independent' to ensure companies retain genuine independence rather than acting as arms of media conglomerates. (CMcL)
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