British Advertisers Back Single TV Regulator for BBC

28 February 2002

Addressing a London conference on Communications Reform hosted by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising on Wednesday, Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising affairs at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, called on the government to appoint a single television broadcast regulator.

The issue is currently under consideration by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport prior to the introduction this summer of the government’s Communications Bill.

As things stand, all commercial television broadcasters are answerable to the Independent Television Commission – shortly to be merged with three other broadcast regulators and the telecommunications watchdog into a single independent body, Ofcom.

However, the government intends that the publicly owned British Broadcasting Corporation will continue to be regulated by a twelve-strong board of governors appointed by the Queen in Council [a euphemism for the government of the day]. This is vehemently opposed by politicians of all shades and the commercial TV and radio lobby, which maintains that all broadcasters including the BBC should be regulated by Ofcom.

Wootton said his members were “strongly in favour” of a single regulatory body whose remit included the BBC. The latter, he claimed, was trying to “assassinate commercial broadcasting” by airing programmes that snatch market share from ITV and other commercial TV companies.

Popular BBC programmes such as East Enders which would be successful on any channel should be left to the commercial sector, he argued; the BBC’s role should be to air programmes that are market failures and transform them into successes.

Observed another participant, Granada’s director of sales, Mick Desmond: “[BBC director general Greg] Dyke understands ITV and he is challenging his team to get a greater share of the audience rather than varying programming.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff