The Autumn conference saw three key speakers, Rona Fairhead, Chair of the BBC Trust; Lord Terry Burns, outgoing Chair of Channel 4 and Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3 discuss Public Service Broadcasting.
The theme of the conference: Public Service Broadcasting – Future Uncertain, could not have come at a more crucial time in the history of PSB in the UK.
Rona Fairhead, Chairman of the BBC Trust, outlined the two faces of the BBC, operating in two parallel worlds: one under intense media scrutiny and rivalry and the other one where the public live with and love the BBC with 97% of people using the BBC for 18 hours a week. She pointed out that the current charter renewal consultation had caused an unprecedented response from the public who want a better, protected BBC and she acknowledged that there was opposition about changes, such as BBC Three moving to the iPlayer. With regard to funding, she said the public supports the principle of universality and prefer a funding model like the licence fee or a household levy.
Lord Burns, outgoing Chairman of Channel 4, spoke about the disruption to the channel caused by the current uncertainty over its future with the Government assessing its operating model.
He pointed out that most of Channel 4’s public service programming goes out at peak time and that the corporation is the only ‘strong alternative’ to the BBC as a public service voice.
Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3, talked passionately about the station and its diverse programming. He highlighted the fact that BBC Radio 3 ‘can take risks and clear the schedule for remarkable things.’ His intention is to bring back ‘slow radio’, letting performances run in full rather than cutting them back to fit the schedule for which the channel has recently been criticised.
The afternoon session concluded with a ‘wise people’ panel chaired by Steve Hewlett with Toby Syfret, Enders Analysis; Ilse Howling, Managing Director, Connected TV, Digital UK; Tim Suter, Managing Director, Perspective Associates and Will Wyatt, VLV Patron and former Director of BBC Broadcast, discussing what the future holds for broadcasters.