BBC Report – Digital Channel Vs Online BBC3

Introduction

This report will assess the capacity of an online BB3 to meet the requirements of a Public Service Broadcaster (as laid down in the BBC charter) in relation to that of the current digital channel.

The investigation will also specifically focus on the BBC trust – its Charter and Agreement, the model of existing BBC channels and the dynamics between the current debates surrounding its future alongside the PSB. It will look closely at the annual figures of 2012/2013 report and identify a relationship between the three elements.  The research undertaken for this report will include an evaluation of what has been found.

Executive Summary

This report has explored the capacity of both the differences and similarities of an online BBC3 and its current digital channel. Alongside this, it has looked into the Royal Charter and how these requirements are met by the Public Service Broadcaster both as a digital channel and an online BBC 3. It has focused on the history, funding, debates on ‘axing’ the digital channel and the current success of iPlayer.

Also, it has provided a conclusion of findings and a recommendation.  The report has concluded and gave an unbiased detailed account of both the benefits and drawbacks of the debate in regards to the capacity of an online-only BBC 3 in comparison to its current digital channel. 


About the BBC

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcasting provider in Britain, which is for the public of the United Kingdom, Canary Islands and Isle of Man. Their mission is to “enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.” (BBC – Inside the BBC, 2014). For almost a past century, the BBC has continued to be at the front of innovation of new technology. Today, viewers can watch they want when they want across multiple platforms.

The BBC all began in October 1922 as a radio service. Whilst a lot of amateur radio stations closed, the BBC’s first regular broadcast occurred in London. In November 1936, the BBC became the world’s first broadcaster that provided a ‘high definition’ service regularly.

The history of the BBC represents many ‘firsts’ in broadcasting achievements and the Olympic Games in 1948 was one of these as it was the first televised experience of this particular event. Carrying on in its success over the years, the BBC is one of the leading broadcasters in the UK. In all its history being down South, the BBC moving North was one of their most ambitious decisions.

 

How it is funded

The BBC is funded by the UK public via TV licences. It doesn’t have any other source of funding from i.e. advertisements as the only advertisements on their channels are of their programmes. Therefore, it is dependent on the public.

BBC Trust – Royal Charter and Agreement

“The Royal Charter is the constitutional basis for the BBC. It sets out the public purposes of the BBC, guarantees its independence, and outlines the duties of the Trust and the Executive Board. The current Charter runs until 31 December 2016.” (BBC – BBC Trust, 2014)

This shows that the Charter outlines the fundamentals of the BBC and ensures that it is for the public and maintains its purpose.

The BBC consists of a BBC Trust and an Executive Board. These two fundamental bodies have different roles within the BBC but both are as important as each other. The Trust consists of a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman and multiple ordinary members.

The Agreement covers numerous topics within the Charter and gives detailed accounts of these topics. It also establishes how the BBC is Funded and the governing duties.

Television Channels

There are a variety of television channels which the BBC broadcasts which include: BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, CBBC, CBEEBIES, BBC PARLIAMENT, BBC NEWS and BBC ALBA.

 

Digital Channel Vs BBC 3 Online

There are many benefits and drawbacks of having and keeping the current digital channel BBC 3, but there are also many benefits and drawbacks for the argument of having an online-only BBC 3 in order to save money.

Digital Channel Benefits

The benefits of the digital service are; that it is accessible for every viewer on Freeview, meaning that if anybody wanted to watch it is a possibility, and also it is already established as a channel. The channel also provides a catch-up service of some of the other BBC channel’s programmes, i.e. BBC 1’s Eastenders.

In addition to this the channel caters for the younger adult audiences as it runs up-coming and modern series such as, Family Guy and American Dad, which tend to orientate towards younger adults with the humour and ideologies used in the shows.

Digital Channel Drawbacks

The drawbacks of having the digital channel are; that it is costing the BBC money as they are trying to cut on spending, also the channel doesn’t air until 7:00pm meaning that it doesn’t cater for audiences that are actively viewing before this time. Even though it is a positive for viewers to be able to catch up on their favourite programmes, this can also be considered a drawback as this content is already available online on BBC I Player.



BBC 3 Online Benefits

If the BBC do change the service from the current digital channel to an online-only service, there will be many benefits from this decision. Such as the fact that having the service online, would mean that the content from BBC 3 would be available to the public, at any time of the day, not just after 7pm. This also means that the consumers would be able to search for their favourite programmes, rather than just having to wait for them to come on air.

Removing the service would also provide a huge step to reach the goal of reducing the costs, a target set by Lord Hall. In addition to these, having the entire BBC 3 channel only online would ‘super-charge the iPlayer’ for the BBC as the amount of content online would increase, and the amount of views wold also increase. (Kanter, 2014)

BBC 3 Online Drawbacks

Even though there are many benefits to both, The BBC and the public of having the service only online, there are also some cons against this move. For instance, not everybody who has a television, has access to the internet. This means that for now that can watch their favourite programmes, but when it moves, they will no longer be able to carry on doing so, and the fact that the BBC is funded entirely by the public, seems a bit unfair and contrasts their ideologies stated in their Charter. And in turn would make them lose some viewers and ratings.

Also, at the moment, some programmes from BBC 3 aren’t available via the iPlayer, this means that they would have to make every single programmes from the channel, available online, which could become quite costly in its own right.

 

PSB Situation

Percentage shares of television channels from December 2013 – February 2014

(Barb.co.uk, 2014) is a website which gives the total number of viewings for each television channel in the UK and shows the total viewing summary. Between December 2013 and February 2014, BBC 1 still remains the leading TV channel broadcast in the UK with total viewing share percentage of 21.5% – Dec 13, 22.2% – Jan 2014 and 22.2% – Feb 2014. These figures show that The BBC is the UK’s leading broadcaster.

However, BBC 3 doesn’t have the same viewing percentage share as BBC 1 or BBC 2 as it only accounts for 1.4% of the total UK. But this doesn’t mean that the channel doesn’t play a big role in the success of the BBC, the reason that it doesn’t have as much success as the other channels, is because of the fact that it is more catered for younger adults, and also their budget isn’t as large as BBC 1, BBC 2. But it is still a sizable budget as if it were to be cut, it would help reduce the BBC’s costs monumentally.

The success of iPlayer

When browsing thinkbox.tv, there are significant figures which support the debate of a BBC 3 online service only as iPlayer’s success rates are so high.

“iPlayer delivered almost 2.32 billion TV and radio streams in 2012. Its performance in January 2013 was very strong and received 242m requests for TV and radio programming (212m for TV). Due to it being a BBC property, there are no commercial opportunities on the service.” (Thinkbox.tv, 2014)

Evaluation: it is evident that iPlayer has become an increasingly huge success as more and more streams are taking place. It continued to be just as successful in 2013 so is likely to do so throughout the current year of 2014. Many viewers agree that a televisual experience is better without numerous advertisements which are included on other channels such as ITV as it decreases the actual content time of when the programme is scheduled for.

Whereas, the BBC satisfies its viewers by giving them the full content of the programme without advertisements as interruptions. Whether BBC 3 was to stay as an online and digital channel, viewers can share this experience – the BBC is still standing by is function to “be a body corporate by the name of the British Broadcasting Corporation” (BROADCASTING: Copy of Royal Charter for the continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation, 2006:9)  which is stated in the Royal Charter.

Although every member of the public does not have access to the internet, there is still a large amount of the public who view content via the iPlayer therefore, there is potential for BBC to maintain their high ratings.


Is axing BBC 3 the right decision?

Evaluation: Figure 3 shows that over three quarters of the public are against the removal of the digital channel BBC 3 on our television screens while only 13.05% believe it is the right decision.

However, the amount of people who answered the question has not been stated, so it might not reflect the decision of the whole of the public. Despite the fact that this is a negative, it still remains clear that BBC 3 maintains their mission to “entertain” its audiences. (BBC – Inside the BBC, 2014). As the percentage of the answer “No” is so distinctively high above, BBC shouldn’t just take into account the sizeable amount that they want to cut down but instead, see it as worthwhile amount for all of the satisfied viewers that consume the channel.

Even though the BBC provide televisual, online and radio material for the public and the PSB situation has become a popular trend both online and via other media sources, it is down to the BBC to decide which decision would impact its business and viewers the most.

Further views on the debate

An article on GeekTown in relation to views on the removal of the digital channel BBC 3 and states:

“as an online channel it can focus on producing quality shows aimed at a younger audience, without having to create masses of ‘filler’ shows to pack out a broadcast schedule.” (Elliott, 2014)

Evaluation: Evidently, this statement gives reasons ‘for’ the removal of the digital channel BBC 3 and having an online only version as it states that the BBC will be able to allocate the remaining budget to focus on programmes which are more of interest to viewers rather than just ‘filler’ programmes.  



Conclusion of findings

In summary, it is evident that this report has assessed the capacity of having an online-only BBC 3 in relation to the digital channel. It is apparent that there are many views and opinions surrounding the whole debate and the research above shows that there are many that believe that having an online-only BBC 3 isn’t the right decision and in the best interest of the viewers who pay for the service. In addition to this, it does not fully comply with the Royal Charter because it is a ‘PSB’ and not all of the public agree with this change.

Alternatively, there are some definitive reasons why this move is the best approach. For instance, it cuts costs for the BBC and it will also make help in making BBC 3 online full of content of the viewers’ favourite shows and not the shows that just fill the space and time.

 

Recommendation

From all of the research and findings which this report has covered, the recommendation that would be best for both the BBC and its viewers, would be to not completely axe the current digital channel, but reduce its budget so that the BBC can still cut costs. Also, to trim unnecessary costs within the BBC from other departments even though they said they wouldn’t do this, and put up additional content onto their BBC 3 online via the iPlayer.

This is because the iPlayer is very successful, but they shouldn’t just cut the whole channel, but simply phase it out and gradually turn their viewers towards their online version, and when the channel is no longer cost effective, then remove it. The BBC of course need to cut their costs and reach the target set, but still need to stick to their Royal Charter and be a Public Service Broadcaster which provides unbiased services for the public.

The Public, whom of course, fund the entirety of the BBC via License fees, want a service in which caters for their needs, and not one that only thinks about the costs.
 

References

Barb.co.uk. 2014. Total viewing summary – monthly – BARB. [Online] Available at: http://www.barb.co.uk/viewing/monthly-total-viewing-summary?period%5B%5D=20140201&period%5B%5D=20140101&period%5B%5D=20131201&button_submit=View+figures [Accessed: 2 Apr 2014].

BBC – BBC Trust. 2014. Charter and Agreement. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/regulatory_framework/charter_agreement.html [Accessed: 1 Apr 2014].

BBC – Inside the BBC. 2014. Mission and values. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/mission_and_values/ [Accessed: 1 Apr 2014].

BROADCASTING: Copy of Royal Charter for the continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation. 2006. [E-book] London: TSO. p. 9. Available through: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/about/how_we_govern/charter.pdf [Accessed: 2 Apr 2014].

Elliott, D. (2014). Is the removal of BBC Three as a broadcast channel a bad thing?. Available:http://www.geektown.co.uk/2014/03/06/removal-bbc-three-broadcast-
channel-bad-thing/.  [Accessed: 2 Apr 2014].

Kanter, J. 2014. BBC3 on the brink of online move. [Online] 5 March. Available at: http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/broadcasters/bbc3-on-the-brink-of-online-move/5068307.article [Accessed: 1 Apr 2014].

Thinkbox.tv. 2014. Thinkbox –. [Online] Available at: http://www.thinkbox.tv/search?q=bbc&x=23&y=12&page=1 [Accessed: 2 Apr 2014].

Wightman, C. 2014. BBC Three is an easy target: Why its move online makes me angry. [Online] Available at: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a555661/bbc-three-is-an-easy-target-why-its-move-online-makes-me-angry.html#~oAsdemhCU0uyUZ [Accessed: 2 Apr 2014].

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