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22/01/2009

Viewers' View On Ofcom Mostly Positive

The organisation that represents citizen and consumer interests in broadcasting, and speaks for listeners and viewers on the full range of broadcasting issues, has welcomed Ofcom's January proposals on Public Service Broadcasting.
Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV) responded to Ofcom's proposals by 'whole-heartedly agreeing' with Ofcom that the BBC must remain at the heart of public service broadcasting.
It also welcomed its rejection of 'top-slicing' the BBC licence fee income that pays for programmes and services.
However VLV is dismayed that under Ofcom's proposals, ITV would no longer compete with the BBC as a major public service broadcaster.
The idea that Channel 4 should enter into a partnership or merge with another company in the hope that it will become a 'strong alternative public service voice to the BBC' also deeply concerns and alarms Voice of the Listener & Viewer.
Said VLV Chairman Richard Lindley: "What is there in this idea that would necessarily create a new public service broadcaster big and strong enough to compete with the BBC and provide a real alternative to it?
"If ITV, with all its resources, can no longer afford to provide public service broadcasting, why should Channel 4, in partnership with a commercial company, be able to do any better?" he asked.
VLV is also critical of Ofcom's comments on children's programmes. Ofcom says only that the Government should "consider funding for content for children", and only do so "if resources can be found".
"VLV members will find this at best lukewarm support for British-made children's programmes outside the BBC they think should remain an essential part of British broadcasting," they said.
However, the statement from VLV welcomed Ofcom's understanding of the importance of news services that can compete in quality with BBC news and is interested in the idea put forward for a news consortia funded through competitive tender.
But VLV wants to know more about what organisations would be eligible to compete for the contract before giving the idea its support. For example would foreign owned companies or Sky be able to do so?
Voice of the Listener & Viewer insisted that all listeners and viewers should continue be able to find programmes of quality and diversity on the main channels, as well as in the new digital world.
VLV further urged Ofcom not to allow public service broadcasting in this country dwindle to become just broadcasting for the minority.
(BMcC/JM)
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