DCMS Broadcasting White Paper and BBC Funding

The UK Government Broadcasting White Paper has been published and it includes a commitment to review the BBC’s funding mechanism. The White Paper outlines the key issues the UK Government is looking to address in relation to the future of broadcasting in the UK. The plans cover a range of topics which could impact both public service providers and wider players across the UK broadcasting sector.

The Government has published its White Paper on the future of the broadcasting sector. The UK creative economy is currently thriving. The Government has published this paper to ensure that this continues in the face of increasing competition across content media from global players, changing audience habits and the changing role technology is playing in the sector.

The White Paper confirms the Government is planning to take action to give public service broadcasters greater flexibility in how they deliver on their remit; to introduce a new prominence regime for on-demand television to ensure public service content is easy to find on designated TV platforms; and to protect the UK’s terms of trade regime and consider if it should be extended to radio and audio producers that produce programming for the BBC. The Government will take action to give Ofcom new powers to draft and enforce a video on-demand code, to ensure all TV-like content is subject to similar standards no matter how it is watched. It has also committed to pursuing a change of ownership of Channel 4 and to ensure that the UK’s trade policy protects the UK’s audio-visual policy framework including by maintaining UK content’s European Works status.

As part of this White Paper the Government has committed to reviewing the BBC’s funding mechanism. The government had already announced this intention, stating in relation to the recent licence fee settlement that “this licence fee announcement will be the last. …Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.” 

The White Paper does not set out the Government’s intentions, but they could include any mix of:

  • Advertiser funded BBC services
  • Subscription BBC TV packages
  • Wholesale charges for BBC channels on TV platforms (Sky or Virgin)

Any of these options will have big impacts on their competitors so the Government will have to weigh up carefully how the changes affect rivals and the wider production sector.

Frontier Economics advises radio, media, broadcast and digital clients in the UK, Europe and elsewhere on issues relating to content policy, regulatory intervention, and digital markets.

Read the UK Government’s “Up Next” broadcasting White Paper here.

For more information, please contact us on media@frontier-economics.com or at  +44 (0) 20 7031 7000.