Posted: Thu 23rd Mar 2023

New, audience-focused BBC operating licence will be fit for digital future, says Ofcom

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 23rd, 2023


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Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has unveiled a new operating licence for the BBC, designed to ensure the broadcaster meets the changing needs of its audience and increases its public accountability.

The licence, effective from 1 April 2023, sets new requirements for the BBC’s online services, including BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds, and the BBC website, while maintaining quotas for broadcast TV and radio services to guarantee minimum volumes of news, current affairs, and original UK programmes.

The updated licence requires the BBC to be more transparent about its plans for content and services, addressing concerns about the lack of detail and clarity provided by the corporation in the past.

For the first time, the BBC will have to publicly outline its plans before making significant changes to its services.

The new licence, which aims to strike a balance between the audience’s expectations for high-quality online content and the importance of traditional broadcast TV and radio, includes over 70 quotas for the BBC’s broadcast services, as well as extensive new reporting requirements for greater transparency.

As the UK paid a combined £3.8 billion in licence fees in 2022, it is crucial that the BBC caters to all audiences and continues to offer a wide range of high-quality UK content.

The new operating licence grants the BBC the flexibility to adapt its output in response to changing audience behaviours, while maintaining strict reporting conditions and other safeguards.

Ofcom will closely monitor the BBC throughout the year, carrying out extensive research on content and services, audience consumption, and satisfaction levels.

If the BBC fails to deliver for its audience, Ofcom will act, including imposing additional requirements in the operating licence if necessary.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom’s Group Director for Broadcasting and Online Content, emphasised the importance of future-proofing regulation to allow the BBC to innovate and transform while safeguarding content most valued by audiences.

He also expressed disappointment at the BBC’s lack of detail and clarity about planned changes, stating that the new reporting rules would ensure the corporation is held to a higher level of public accountability.

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