Ofcom to work PSP thinking into PSB review

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Ofcom is to consider responses to its discussion paper detailing latest thinking on its public service publisher (PSP) concept, a publicly funded convergent media entity, in its next review of public service broadcasting, due to start in the autumn.

The regulator said it had more than 70 responses to its discussion paper, published in January, on the PSP, which, if given the Government's go-ahead, would compete against the BBC and Channel 4 in digital media markets.

Last year Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said the PSP was a key part of his "personal crusade" in ensuring media plurality post digital switchover. The fear is that as audiences fragment and competition increases, commercially funded public service broadcasters will no longer be able to offer news and children's programming, and programmes targeted at UK nations and regions?leaving public service content the monopoly of the licence fee-funded BBC.

Ofcom said the majority of responses agreed that online delivery will be a valuable new way of accessing public service content and supported the case for intervention in principle.

Among issues raised by respondents was:

  • The need for clarity over where intervention was most needed: where would there be a market shortfall and what types of content would be needed?
  • The role of the PSP: some argued it could help citizens navigate to other sources of public service content while others suggested it could support the creation of public service content by acting as a source of "venture capital".
  • The protection of rights: Ofcom's document set out a possible new open rights model which would allow content to be modified, amended and re-used. Ofcom said this approach "received support in some quarters while others argued that existing copyright legislation is sufficient to deliver these benefits".
  • How much the PSP would cost: Ofcom said there was no consensus on the required scale nor source of potential funding.
  • Ofcom said it would now conduct more research and hold a series of seminars on the issue during the summer.

Lovelace Consulting  |  13.06.2007

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