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Discuss whether or not the BBC should be allowed to take advertising and sponsorship in order to fund its new digital channels. What would the implications be for public service broadcasting?

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Introduction

Discuss whether or not the BBC should be allowed to take advertising and sponsorship in order to fund its new digital channels. What would the implications be for public service broadcasting? The British Broadcasting Company was founded by John Reith and began broadcasting on television in 1939. Reith's vision was of an independent British broadcaster able to educate, inform and entertain the whole nation, free from political interference and commercial pressure. Scannell (1990, p.13) defined public service broadcasting as '...a responsibility to bring into the greatest possible number of homes in the fullest degree all that was best in every department of human knowledge, endeavour and achievement.' Initially, it would seem that advertising and sponsorship would be a good method to fund the BBC's new digital channels. The channels, if only available through pay TV systems like Sky or cable television, should not use licence payers money if some of the licence payers cannot see the channels themselves. However, taking on advertising and sponsorship goes against what the BBC originally stood for when John Reith ran it in the 1920s. By advertising, the BBC would possibly have to give into commercial pressures. ...read more.

Middle

In the past it was expected to grow by 4%. This means that commercial broadcasters have less money to create original programmes of their own. This information implies that the BBC should not be given the extra revenue earned through sponsorship and advertising as they may already have an unfair advantage over commercial channels. Furthermore, if the BBC did take on advertising, it could mean taking away advertisers from other channels, making it even more difficult for them to compete. John Cassey from the Guardian reported that 'ITV's share of advertising revenue had fallen to its lowest ever level.' In 1999, ITV had a 60% share of the advertising revenue. Now it is just 52%. This implies that ITV (along with other commercial channels affected by the downturn in advertising) have even less money to produce quality programmes with. As mentioned before, it has been predicted that there will be a further slump in television advertising. If the BBC were to take on advertising, there would be several implications. Firstly, it would take away advertising from existing digital channels, reducing their advertising revenue further. This means that competition between channels may be further diminished. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, without experiencing the pressures of advertisers, would the BBC be able to keep this promise? Especially if the new channels prove to be unpopular with the British public. In conclusion, it appears that if the BBC did opt to take on advertising and sponsorship to fund its new digital channels, it could possibly give them an unfair advantage over other commercial digital channels in terms of revenue. However, the BBC has always been seen to set the standards in terms of good broadcasting and this position should be protected so that the BBC can carry on producing quality programmes for the British public and making other channels strive to meet the same standards. Word Count: 1,995 CASSEY, J., 2002. ITV losing out to rivals in advertising revenue carve-up. The Guardian, 26 November CURRAN, J. & SEATON, J., 1991. Power Without Responsibility. 4th ed. London: Routledge. DRUMMOND, P. & PATERSON, R., 1986. Television in Transition. London: British Film Institute. GOODWIN, A., & WHANNEL, G., 1990. Understanding Television. London: Routledge. SCANNELL, P., 1990. Public Service Broadcasting: The History of a Concept. In: A. GOODWIN & G. WHANNEL, Understanding Television. London: Routledge, 11-29 www.barb.co.uk http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/bbc/lic_advert.shtml http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/news/news245.htm -Speech by Mark Thompson, Director of BBC Television http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/report2002/pdf/facts_broadcasting_stats.pdf www.mediaguardian.co.uk www.publications.parliament.uk Wireless Telegraphy (Television Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 ...read more.

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