BBC Promises ‘Biggest Ever Marketing Assault’ for dTV

21 June 2002

A wave Greg Dyke-injected testosterone is flowing at the formerly sclerotic British Broadcasting Corporation.

The broadcaster has vowed to mount its “biggest ever marketing assault” if it succeeds in winning the digital terrestrial licences formerly allocated to the collapsed ITV Digital. Partnered by BSkyB and Crown Castle Communications [WAMN: 14-Jun-02], the publicly owned BBC will learn on July 4 whether it has been successful.

If so: “We would pump in our heaviest activity ever for the launch of a digital terrestrial platform; but it would be very different to any advertising we've done before,” promises Andy Duncan, BBC marketing and communications director.

He would not elaborate on the campaign’s nature nor its budget. He did, however, volunteer that the agency responsible for promoting the BBC's digital services – Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters – will probably be involved alongside fellow roster shops Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Fallon.

• Elsewhere within the labyrinthine empire, tidings to gladden director general Greg Dyke’s heart! BBC News24, the twenty-four-hour rolling news service has fot the first time accelerated past its Murdoch-controlled satellite rival, Sky News.

According to the latest BARB (Broadcasters' Audience Research Board) data, a total of 3.8 million viewers each week watched the BBC news channel in April and May, compared with 3.7 million for Sky News. Average monthly reach for News 24 was 7.4 million in April and 7.7 million in May; Sky News attracted 7.2 million and 7.3 million. The numbers reflect satellite viewing only and exclude those who watch News 24 on terrestrial BBC1 or BBC2.

• Meantime, the BBC has lost none of its attraction as a political football. Tim Yeo, the Conservative Party’s culture media and sport spokesman told a conference on public service broadcasting organised by the Social Market Foundation that BBC2 should be axed and BBC1 reduced to a narrowly-defined public service broadcaster, shorn of entertainment and sport.

Argued Yeo: “A taxpayer-funded PSB channel should not simply replicate programmes the market is already supplying – or would supply if a tax-funded channel did not do so. It’s doubtful if much sport can still be defined as PSB. Harder to judge is the extent to which drama, music and visual and performing arts are PSB.”

He also opined that £1 billion ($1.49bn; €1.56bn) could be slashed from the BBC’s £2.5bn annual licence fee income, suggesting that “perhaps PSB only needs one national television channel, not two.”

BBC chairman Gavyn Davies was not of like mind and warned of “ghettoising” PSB. “We have always existed to make the good popular and to make the popular good. To try, artificially, to separate the two would be difficult and damaging.”

Data sourced from multiple publications; additional content by WARC staff