Television

BBC chairman Grade emphasises delivery of quality services at lowest price

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MUMBAI: A few days ago a seminar on the subject of UK pubcaster The BBC's licence fee took place. On the occasion BBC chairman Michael Grade pointed out that a proper balance needs to be struck between the public appetite for range and quality on the one hand, and on the other their efficient delivery at the lowest possible price.

"The new BBC Charter establishes new governance arrangements for the BBC, at the core of which lies a clear separation of the new Trust from the BBC executive. It places on the new Trust a clear responsibility to ensure that the licence fee is properly, effectively and efficiently used, and requires it to be fully accountable to those who pay it. We are already proceeding on that basis," says Grade.

He adds that in its continuing focus on value for money, the BBC's board of Governors continues to exert pressure on costs. "Any ways which are identified to decrease the cost of the licence fee or to improve what the BBC can offer, will be welcomed by the Board. The licence fee represents a deliberate intervention in the market. The value and benefits of that intervention are well understood, but the wider effects must always remain under scrutiny."

He went on to state that what the BBC does affects other businesses. "All those with legitimate concerns about the market impact of the BBC should be reassured by the White Paper's imposition of real and detailed duties on the new Trust. This is not the land of paper promises: the service licences, PVTs and other tools are there to do a job, and to do it transparently. I should also emphasise that our duty to represent the interests of the licence fee payers is not narrowly focussed on what the BBC provides. Our remit extends to safeguarding their interest in sustaining choice in the wider market."

Grade says that the decision on the level of the licence fee is for the Government alone and it is a complex equation to consider, involving broadcasting aspirations, public appetites, public policy objectives, commercial impact and value for money.

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