UK: ITV’s public service commitments set to be reduced after controversial cost-benefit analysis by OFCOM, BBC licence fee to subsidise C4?

From The Guardian, 28 July, spotters fee to ALJ

ITV is likely to win its battle to reduce its public service commitments while the BBC may have to give part of its licence fee to Channel 4, according to a leaked blueprint prepared by the media regulator Ofcom. Under the proposals, ITV will be allowed to cut back on regional news, reduce its current affairs output and reduce programmes produced outside London, saving almost £40m a year.

The decision, following Ofcom research that suggests the costs of ITV’s public service status will outweigh the benefits by £60m by 2012, is likely to spark outrage from MPs and the broadcasting unions, who campaigned against the plans.

Ofcom is likely to suggest that the BBC’s “excess” licence fee money be diverted to other broadcasters for public service television from 2012, rejecting the corporation’s argument that its “unique link” with the public needs to be maintained.

The regulator also supports Channel 4’s argument for public subsidy, at a lower level than the broadcaster has suggested. Ofcom says that Channel 4 will need about £40m a year in the medium term rather than the £100m it has argued for.


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