PA welcomes BBC pledge to work with arts bodies

PA welcomes BBC pledge to work with arts bodies

The Publishers Association has welcomed the BBC’s commitment to working more closely with the UK’s arts institutions.

The corporation released its report about the future of the BBC yesterday (7th September) in which it pledged to work with a wide range of cultural partners, create an ‘Ideas Service’ and a children’s iPlayer called iPlay which would feature not just television programmes but “blogs, podcasts, games and educational tools”.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: "Our new, open BBC will act as a curator bringing the best from Britain's great cultural institutions and thinkers to everyone. Britain has some of the greatest cultural forces in the world. We want to join with them, working alongside them, to make Britain the greatest cultural force in the world.”

However, he also hinted that funding cuts would mean the BBC would "inevitably have to either close or reduce some services", without specifying which areas might be under threat.

Of iPlay, the BBC charter review document said: “…iPlay, our proposed children’s service, (is) where we would provide content from carefully chosen partners and give children much more scope to interact and create content.”

In terms of education, the charter review document said its plan was to develop curriculum resources for each nation, ensuring an interactive service where children help shape the output and contribute their own ideas, developing digital and creative skills in the process.

“In this area we recognise that we have to develop our material with appropriate regard for our impact on
commercial providers, and we will,” the document said. “We also believe that as a UK-wide provider of services we need to ensure that our service in this area is consistent across the four nations of the UK."

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said the PA already worked closely with BBC Learning and looked forward to continuing this dialogue in light of yesterday’s announcement.  

“The pledge by the BBC to work more closely with the UK’s arts institutions and creative industries is very welcomed,” he said. “Given its unique position, the BBC needs to ensure it works with other cultural players, be they publically or commercially funded.”

Jo McCrum, assistant chief executive of the Society of Authors, said the commitment to drama and the children’s iPlayer was “very reassuring." However she added: "But we are concerned as to where the cuts to other services will fall and many of our members feel that BBC programming does not serve teenagers and young adults very well.”  

 “Of course we welcome any initiative that employs authors and are happy to discuss terms and conditions, but I don’t think we can really comment until we know more of what is being required.”

The government launched a consultation on the BBC's Royal Charter, which sets out the purpose of the BBC and how it will be governed, in July, promising to ask "hard questions" about the corporation's size and ambition.