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CULTURE Secretary Tessa Jowell has given approval for three new BBC television services and five new radio services.
However, BBC3, a proposed replacement for BBC Choice, has not been approved.
The BBC have been offered the opportunity to put forward fresh proposals for a replacement for BBC Choice.
Jowell said: “I have given the BBC a chance to create high quality, home grown programmes which educate, inform and entertain. The new stations must fulfil its public service remit and offer value for money for licence fee payers. In particular, I believe the new stations for children offer the hope of a new golden age of children’s programmes; a real national asset which will become a lasting legacy for children and their parents. The BBC still has not made the case for BBC3, the station for 16 to 34 year olds. It was not clear that its proposals were truly distinctive in an already crowded market, so I have asked the Corporation to rethink its plans in the area. But overall, the new stations should attract a wider range of viewers to all digital services. This can only be good news for all broadcasters and for the viewer and listener. Not all games are zero sum; sometimes everyone can win.”
The new digital services approved, subject to strict conditions, include: Two new television channels for children – one aimed at children aged 6 to 13, another for the under six year olds; BBC4 – a television service intended to create a ‘forum for debate’ and aimed at ‘anyone interested in culture, arts and ideas’ that will replace BBC Knowledge and five new digital radio services aimed separately at a young specialist audience.
Director-General Greg Dyke said: “We are surprised and naturally disappointed that the Secretary of State is not yet convinced by our plans for BBC3. We believe our proposals do meet the BBC’s core public service criteria of distinctiveness and quality. She has invited us to put forward fresh proposals for this channel. We intend to do so with urgency so that we can gain her approval to enable us to start promoting a coherent portfolio of digital services as the Secretary of State has asked us to do.”
Responding to the Government’s announcement regarding the BBC’s digital services, ITV said: "We welcome the launch of new BBC services which will help drive digital take-up and extend viewer choice. We are pleased that the Secretary of State has ensured that these new services will be governed by clear remits which will aid accountability and ensure that promised distinctiveness is delivered. We will now look to the BBC to join with ITV and other major broadcasters to promote digital television." (CD)

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