UK Government Unveils Plans for BBC Future

15 March 2006

UK media regulator Ofcom is to get new powers to oversee publicly funded broadcaster, the BBC.

The Blair administration has unveiled a blueprint for the corporation's future in which Ofcom is to be given a role in assessing the "market impact" of BBC services for the first time.

The watchdog will report on the commercial ramifications of plans such as making the broadcaster's programs available on demand over the internet.

However, the new powers do not satisfy the broadcaster's commercial rivals, including ITV and BSkyB, who argue that the BBC should be regulated independently and its finances better scrutinized.

Under the government's recommendations overall regulation of the BBC will remain with a new trust, replacing the existing board of governors, but still headed by BBC chairman Michael Grade.

The government confirmed the maintenance of the licence fee - through which the BBC is funded by every television-watching household in the country - until 2016. But a review in 2012 will look at funding in future years.

Annnouncing the plans, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell also enshrined the BBC's role as "trusted guide" in ensuring the nation's viewers all have access to digital TV via digital terrestrial, cable or satellite by the switchover date of 2012.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff