Television

BBC Trust begins public value test into local video proposal

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MUMBAI: The BBC Trust has started its public value test (PVT) of UK pubcaster the BBC's local video proposal. The Trust has published BBC management's application as well as supporting documents, a service description and a full timetable for the PVT.

BBC Trustee and Chair of the Trust's Public Value and Fair Trading Committee Diane Coyle says, "Last year the Trust challenged BBC management to respond to licence fee payers wanting better local services. We wanted a proposal that would deliver public value with minimum adverse impact on local newspapers and other commercial media services.

"We have now received the management's application and are publishing their plans today. BBC management's proposal for a local video broadband offer to complement existing BBC Local websites supersedes previous plans for a local television service. BBC management believes the proposition will help the BBC meet its public purposes and close the gap between the importance that audiences attach to the BBC's local role and their view of current performance.

"The Trust is inviting all interested parties to participate in our consultation on BBC management's proposals. We want to receive all comments – positive and negative – from the public and the industry before we consider the application in detail. This input from people outside the BBC will be essential to the Trust reaching a decision in the interest of licence fee payers. Once we reach our initial conclusions, the Trust will consult again."

The new Charter, which came into effect in January 2007, transferred to the Trust responsibilities previously held by the Secretary of State for deciding major service-related investment proposals. The Trust must carry out a transparent and systematic process of scrutiny and evaluation before reaching its final decision.

The public value test has three main parts:

Public value assessment (PVA) by the Trust Unit
Market impact assessment (MIA) by Ofcom
The Trust's decision

The process includes two periods of public consultation. The first four-week consultation period allows contributions from interested parties about any relevant issue. A further period of consultation takes place after the Trust publishes its provisional conclusions. The Trust is scheduled to reach its provisional conclusion in November 2008 and its final decision in February 2009. Both will be published. This PVT is expected to complete within eight months, rather than the usual six, owing to the time needed to complete the more complex market impact assessment for this service.

Ofcom is beginning its four-week consultation prior to conducting its market impact assessment of BBC management's proposals.

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