What follows is essentially the first post in this conversation: The Government's Green Paper on the BBC - and the present and future of h2g2 with my commentary removed.
I have created separate entries which includes a discussion of how the Green Paper affects h2g2's place in Internet-Land. This week The Post features Part One and further parts will appear over the next three weeks. All are preserved for posterity in the Archives.
I wanted to look at the recent Green Paper with reference to the BBC web presence in general, and us in particular.
Programmes should aim to be excellent, distinctive and entertaining – that means, more specifically, that they should be:
- of high quality
All BBC services should strive to fulfil the full range of public purposes. Not every individual programme (or interactive service, or piece of internet content) will fulfil such a purpose – although the vast majority should. However every programme should display at least one of the above characteristics of excellence and distinctiveness.
The BBC is no longer exclusively a broadcaster. A large amount of its creative output now appears online, and it undertakes a wide range of community interest and educational activity.
Much of the text of this Green Paper uses the terms 'programmes' or 'programming' as shorthand for what the BBC does. However, where we want to emphasise other activity we have sometimes used terms such as 'content' and 'output' (to specifically include the internet) or 'activity' and 'services' (to cover everything that the BBC does).
... the internet is an increasingly important source of information for millions, and the BBC has established itself as a central, trusted presence in the online world. BBC Online is the most popular site in the UK. In this context, the independent review of BBC Online conducted by Philip Graf identified some clear purposes for BBC Online that place it alongside the BBC's television and radio services – sustaining social values and providing high quality, innovative and accessible content for UK users. In addition, that review noted that BBC Online plays a valuable role in the development of the web itself: using the BBC's position as a trusted guide to bring new users to the internet; encouraging users to try new interactive technology; and setting a benchmark of innovation and creativity.
Ofcom's purposes and characteristics will be the basis on which the programming output of the other major terrestrial television broadcasters is judged. But for the BBC, they do not represent the whole picture. The BBC also runs radio and internet services alongside its television operation, and in some areas it has a role as a public institution that goes beyond programming, into community development, education and cultural patronage. Ofcom has itself acknowledged that there may be a different set of public purposes for radio, and is conducting further work to consider what these might be.
In addition, publicly-funded programmes should be excellent, distinctive and entertaining. In delivering public purposes, therefore, BBC content, in radio and new media as well as television, should aim to follow Ofcom's suggestion that it be:
- of high quality
This is the same list of bullets as before - at least they are consistent.
All BBC services should strive to fulfil the full range of public purposes. Not every individual programme (or piece of internet content) will always fulfil such a purpose – although the vast majority should. However every programme should display at least one of the characteristics listed above.
The BBC's view is that to fulfil its international remit it must continue to provide a trimedia service: in other words to maintain a global presence across radio, television and internet services. The Government is sympathetic to this ambition. It cannot, however, be taken as given.
The BBC should remain a cultural institution of real scale and ambition... It is a cultural powerhouse ... To fulfil its public purposes the BBC will need to maintain significant audiences. To satisfy every licence fee payer it must provide a wide range of content for a wide range of different audiences.
There is broad public support for the existing range of BBC services – across television, radio and the internet. There are no plans to require the BBC to shut down ot privatise any of these services. New governance and accountability arrangements should ensure that they are focused on public purposes and on the public interest.
Page 96 onwards discusses New media - ie us.
Its public service objectives were to act as an essential resource offering wide-ranging, unique content; to use the internet to forge a new relationship with licence fee payers and strengthen accountability; and to provide a home for licence fee payers on the internet and act as a trusted guide to the new media environment.
The service also aims to bring new users online, providing them with simple and safe navigation tools and content.
While committing to focus resources on content that has educational and democratic value, the service must continue to cater for the tastes of all licence fee payers. It should play a key role as a benchmark of innovation and quality, developing original and engaging content to attract new users and give those with more experience the opportunity to engage creatively with the site. The BBC will also have to continue to monitor the balance of content and services on the site to ensure that they remain in keeping with the principles and purposes of the Corporation eventually enshrined in the new Charter next year. We expect the service licence developed for bbc.co.uk to provide a high level of clarity, for all interested parties, about the boundaries of the site.
Making your voice heard.
The Government, Ofcom and the BBC all claim to want to hear from you - yes you, 1.
These links encourage you to write in and, most probably, be ignored. Remember basic netiquette when you write in, keep it relevant and apppropriate to the organisation you are writing to, and remember that if you want to be taken seriously you should write coherently and spell accurately in order to avoid coming across as an internet wierdo. Wierdos clearly don't vote.