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Hunt's silence on public service broadcasting

Plans for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport set out yesterday completely miss the plot when it comes to public service broadcasting. Continuing a theme, DCMS Minister Jeremy Hunt puts his faith in a Stakhanovite effort from the commercial sector once media regulations are revised, and fails to address the crisis in the provision of public service broadcasting, argues David Elstein.
David Elstein
16 July 2010

The DCMS has just published its structural reform plan. In a mere nine pages, it explains the coalition’s priorities. Top of the list is delivering the Olympics, coupled with reviving competitive sport in schools. I guess those three weeks in 2012 are something no politician can duck. Then come a group of issues loosely gathered under “Big Society” – getting the national lottery back to its original functions, encouraging philanthropy and removing the media ownership rules that Jeremy Hunt believes are what inhibits the creation of local TV stations (a pity he didn’t attend our PSB symposium to discover the real reasons).

The coalition is still pushing for faster roll-out of broadband, but the plan reveals a revision of initial thoughts as to how to fund this. The Tories have repeatedly talked about using current savings from the budget for helping people with digital switch-over that is part of the licence fee (£132m of which the BBC is planning to give back now). The new plan shows that this will not arise till 2012, when the present licence fee settlement is in its last year.

Perhaps as a consequence, it is now part of the plan to renew the licence fee. There is no mention of looking at different ways of funding the BBC, let alone governing it. The only reference to the BBC is to repeat the electoral pledge to allow the National Audit Office into the Beeb. Meanwhile, Ofcom’s regulatory role is to be pulled back by a new Communications Act, which is somehow expected to stimulate growth in the media sector.

So the profound crisis in public service broadcasting merits not even a word, let alone a measure. It is as if the Ofcom report on PSB, with its devastating implied criticisms of the BBC, had never been published – just yesterday! We need a Commission of Inquiry into PSB. We need a new regulatory structure to set out clear responsibility for the future of PSB. We need better governance of the BBC. And, by the look of things, we need Lib Dems who have previously cared passionately about PSB – the likes of Don Foster MP, Lord (Tom) McNally and Lady (Jane) Bonham-Carter – to wake their leadership up to the price that is being paid for leaving the DCMS as the only Whitehall department without a Lib Dem minister.

 

15th July 2010

 

Structural Reform Plans are the key tool of the Coalition Government for making departments accountable for the implementation of the reforms set out in the Coalition Agreement. They replace the old, top-down systems of targets and central micromanagement.

 

The reforms set out in each department’s SRP are designed to turn government on its head, taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people and communities. Once these reforms are in place, people themselves will have the power to improve our country and our public services, through the mechanisms of local democratic accountability, competition, choice, and social action.

 

The reform plans set out in this document are consistent with and form part of the Department's contribution to the Spending Review. All departmental spending is subject to the Spending Review.  

 

We have adopted a cautious view of the timescales for delivering all legislative measures due to the unpredictability of pressures on Parliamentary time.  

Structural Reform Plans

 

Foreword by the Secretary of State

 

This plan represents the first part of my ambition for DCMS and a large part of the structural reform we have already got underway.

 

The biggest challenge DCMS faces is delivering a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 - the largest peacetime logistical operation this country has ever faced. I’m determined to make the most of it, and ensure that London 2012 will be a symbol of our economic recovery, our social and cultural renewal and our re- emergence on the global stage.

 

I want to use 2012 to encourage more young people into sport by establishing an Olympic and Paralympic-style competition, open to every school in the country. We will deliver a powerful legacy for elite sport and create a real and lasting legacy for the tourism industry.

 

I want my Department to help make the Big Society a reality. We will create a culture of giving, so that more of us have a greater connection with the things we care about. We will return the National Lottery to its original good causes of art, sport, heritage and the voluntary sector, and take away the barriers that prevent investment in local media. I want our major cultural institutions to be freed from government control so they can raise more money and spend it as they see fit.

 

I want Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe, and I will do everything I can to incentivise business to invest in this, so we can get there by 2015 – opening up the infrastructure and levelling the playing field for new investment.

 

We will roll back media regulation where it’s preventing growth.

 

After the autumn Spending Review, I will set out my broader ambitions for DCMS. Before then, I want to know what you think about the programme I’ve set out here. Please send your comments to: [email protected]

 

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport

 

Departmental Priorities

 

1. 2012 Olympics and Paralympics

Deliver a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, and urgently form plans to deliver a genuine and lasting legacy throughout the country
  

2 . Boost the Big Society

Encourage philanthropic giving and return the National Lottery to its founding principles, and foster the development of a new breed of strong local media groups, by removing local cross- media ownership rules to encourage local TV

 

3. Media Reform

Reform the media regulatory regime for the digital age to reduce regulation, encourage investment and create the conditions for sustainable growth

 

4. Universal Broadband

Deliver universal broadband at speeds of 2mbps and stimulate private sector investment to deliver the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015

 

5. Encourage Competitive Sport in Schools

Use 2012 to encourage competitive sport in schools by establishing an annual Olympic and Paralympic-style schools event, improving local sports facilities and supporting sports clubs

 

 

1. 2012 Olympics and Paralympics

 

Deliver a safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, and urgently form plans to deliver a genuine and lasting legacy throughout the country

Actions Start End 1.1 Review uncommitted project budgets and all releases of contingency for value for moneyJun 2010 Summer 2012 1.2 Improve governance within Whitehall to ensure effective deliveryJun 2010 Oct 2010 1.3 Work with the Olympic Delivery Authority to ensure that the venues and infrastructure for London 2012 are delivered on time and to budgetJun 2010 Summer 2012 1.4 Work with other government departments and the Mayor of London to ensure that essential public services are provided for the Games i. Deliver critical security and transport services

 

Jun 2010 Summer 2012 ii. Deliver government services covered by guarantees given to the IOC

 

Jun 2010 Summer 2012 iii. Finalise operational delivery plans

 

Dec 2011  iv. Implement operational delivery plans Jan 2012 Summer 2012 1.5 Agree and implement a compelling legacy plan for the Games

 

 i. Develop support in bidding for and staging other major sporting events

 

Jun 2010 Dec 2011 ii. Publish overall legacy plan for London 2012

 

Dec 2010  iii. Publish a new strategy to maximise the tourism legacy of the Games

 

Dec 2010   MILESTONES   A. Construction of major sporting venues completed

 

Summer 2011 B. Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games

 

27 Jul 2012 C. Closing ceremony for the Paralympics Games

 

9 Sep 2012 D. Transformation of Olympic Park to legacy mode begins Oct 2012

2. Boost the Big Society (1/2)

 

Encourage philanthropic giving and return the National Lottery to its founding principles, and foster the development of a new breed of strong local media groups, by removing local cross-media ownership rules to encourage local TV

 

Actions Start End 2.1 Introduce incentives to increase charitable giving

 

 i. Facilitate fundraising by cultural and charitable institutions by giving them greater freedom to operate independently from government

 

Jun 2010Nov 2011 ii. Examine present barriers to giving and propose appropriate remedies

 

Jun 2010Dec 2012 iii. Publish strategy to boost giving from private individuals

 

Dec 2010  2.2 Reform the National Lottery so that more money goes into sport, the arts and heritage

 

  i. Consult about plans to allocate 60% of Lottery funding to the arts, sport and heritage causes, and 40% to the voluntary and community sector

 

Jun 2010 ii. Lay statutory instrument to enact these changes Sep 2010 2.3 Reform the Big Lottery Fund to ensure that only voluntary and community sector projects are funded and to prevent funding of politicised projects    

i. Issue new policy directions to the Big Lottery Fund

2.4 Stop wasteful spending by Lottery distributors, by banning lobbying activities and reducing administration costs to 5% of total income

Sep 2010  

i. Agree plans for administrative cost reductions with distributors

 

Dec 2010  
MILESTONES  A. New policy directions issued to the Big Lottery Fund

 

Sep 2010 B. Strategy set out to boost giving from private individuals Dec 2010 C. Agree challenging plans for administrative cost reductions with distributors

 

Dec 2010 D. National Lottery reforms generate an additional £186m per year, funding arts, sports, heritage and the voluntary sector From Apr 2012

2. Boost the Big Society (2/2)

 

Encourage philanthropic giving and return the National Lottery to its founding principles, and foster the development of a new breed of strong local media groups, by removing local cross-media ownership rules to encourage local TV

 

Actions Start End 2.5 Relax rules on local cross-media ownership

 

 i. Ask Ofcom to investigate removing final local cross-media ownership rule

 

Jun 2010 ii. Draft statutory instrument accepting existing Ofcom recommendations on relaxing local cross-media ownership rules

 

Jun 2010Jul 2010 iii. Lay order before Parliament

 

Oct 2010  iv. Publish Ofcom recommendation on final local cross-media ownership rule

 

Nov 2010  v. Set out strategy based on these recommendations Dec 2010  Enable the creation of new local TV stations

 

 i. Commission economic analysis of options

 

Jun 2010 Dec 2010 ii. Publish consultation paper

 

Jan 2011  iii. Conduct consultation

 

Jan 2011 Mar 2011 iv. Publish final decision following consultation

 

Apr 2011  v. Issue any necessary directions or draft legislation

 

May 2011 Oct 2011 vi. Propose new licensing arrangements for local TV stations

 

Nov 2011   
MILESTONES  E. Local cross-media ownership rules relaxed Nov 2010 F. Licensing arrangements for local TV stations established Nov 2011 G. First local TV stations licensed Summer 2012 H.10-20 local TV stations licensed End of Parliament

3. Media Reform

 

Reform the media regulatory regime for the digital age to reduce regulation, encourage investment and create the conditions for sustainable growth

Actions Start End 3.1 Change the media regulatory regime by reforming Ofcom and deregulating the broadcasting sector

 

 i. Identify areas for scaling back Ofcom duties

 

Jun 2010 Sep 2010 ii. If necessary, include Ofcom measures in the Public Bodies Reform Bill

 

Sep 2010   iii. Conduct scoping exercise for new Communications Bill, including reduced role for regulatorNov 2010 Nov 2011 iv. Publish appropriate deregulatory steps

 

Dec 2011  v. Consult on deregulatory steps as appropriate

 

Jan 2012 Aug 2012 vi. Begin the legislative process

 

Nov 2012  3.2 BBC reform and the new licence fee   

i. Give the National Audit Office full access to the BBC’s accounts

 

Jun 2010 Nov 2011  

ii. Agree the terms of a new licence fee settlement, whilst maintaining the BBC’s independence

 

Jul 2011 Apr 2012
MILESTONES  A. Communications Bill scoping exercise complete Nov 2011 B. New BBC licence fee settlement agreed Apr 2012 C. Legislative process started for media deregulation and Ofcom reform Nov 2012

 

4.Universal Broadband

 

Deliver universal broadband at speeds of 2mbps and stimulate private sector investment to deliver the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015

Actions Start End 4.1 Deliver universal 2mbps broadband

 

 i. Direct Broadband Delivery UK to procure universal broadband

 

Jun 2010 4.2 Create a level playing field between incumbents and new providers i. Examine barriers to new providers investing in fibre optic networks

 

Jun 2010 Oct 2010 ii. Set out strategy to remedy, if needed

 

Nov 2010  4.3 Deregulate infrastructure to facilitate superfast broadband in many areas   

i. Conduct a public consultation (with participation from Ofcom, Ofwat, Ofgem and other regulators) on access to ducts, sewers and poles that can be used to carry fibre optic cable

 

Jul 2010 Nov 2010 ii. Work with Ofcom to require BT and other infrastructure providers to allow the use of their assets to deliver superfast broadband Nov 2010 Nov 2011 iii. If required, take necessary legislation through Parliament Nov 2011 Nov 2012 4.4 Facilitate the introduction of superfast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas i. Start market testing pilots in three areas

 

Apr 2011  ii. Publish report on impact of regulatory measures Sept 2011   

iii. Decide whether to use part of TV licence fee to fund delivery to rural areas

Jan 2012   

iv. If required, instruct Broadband Delivery UK to allocate funding to areas where the market has not delivered, after Digital Switchover has finished in 2012

 

Sep 2012   
MILESTONES  A. Consultation on infrastructure deregulation complete Nov 2010 B. Report on impact of regulatory measures published Sep 2011 C. BT and other providers required to allow access to infrastructure Nov 2011

5. Encourage Competitive Sport in Schools

 

Use 2012 to encourage competitive sport in schools by establishing an annual Olympic and Paralympic-style schools event, improving local sports facilities and supporting sports clubs

Actions Start End 5.1 Use the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to establish a lasting sporting legacy in schools   

i. Direct the Sport Lottery Distributor to take responsibility for the community sports legacy following London 2012

 

Oct 2010  5.2 Launch an Olympics and Paralympic-style schools event i. Select delivery bodies to run the competition

a) Draft terms of tender

b) Invite tenders

c) Appoint delivery bodies

 

Jun 2010 
Oct 2010 
Dec 2010 Sep 2010
Nov 2010 ii. Work with sports to develop guidelines for their entry into the competition

 

Jul 2010 Dec 2010 iii. Instruct delivery bodies to stage pilot events in Summer 2011

 

Jan 2011  iv. Publish the finalised framework and rules for the competition

 

Sep 2011  v. Publish results of the pilot events Oct 2011  5.3 Support local sports facilities and clubs  

i. Determine appropriate steps to protect playing fields

Jun 2010 Dec 2010 ii. Investigate how to use cash in dormant betting accounts to set up a capital fund to improve local sports facilities and support sports clubs Jun 2010 Dec 2010
MILESTONES  A. Delivery bodies for Olympic and Paralympic-style schools event announced Dec 2010 B. Pilot events take place Summer 2011 C. Olympic and Paralympic-style schools event established as an annual competition Summer 2012

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Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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