Archive for the ‘Steve Morrison’ tag

Show me the money!

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Back in April OFCOM launched its public service broadcasting review, bringing it forward by 2 years because it believed the crisis in funding methods was too urgent to wait.

Since then there has been an awful lot of discussion as to where the diminishing funds available for public service broadcasting will come from. What you might call a general media-wide chorus of ‘show me the money!’ Until now much of this discussion has focused on how to slice and dice the BBC’s Licence Fee (with the BBC strongly demurring of course) and very few suggestions of different ways in which to fund public service broadcasting.
Well after today, thanks to Steve Morrison (CEO of All3Media) we have some alternatives.
Morrison was speaking at one of OFCOM’s (in)famous ‘Stakeholder Events’, held at the London School of Economics this morning.  He was one of four people on a panel, each arguing the merits of one of OFCOM’s four future funding models (1. Evolution; 2. BBC only; 3. BBC & Channel 4; 4. Competitive funding).
He was arguing for model number 3 (what you might call the ‘have your cake and eat it’ model). In this scenario the BBC license fee is untouched, Channel 4 receives significant public subsidy, and there is a new ‘contestable funding pool’ of money for anyone prepared to make public service programming.
But unlike those who have previously argued the case for Model 3, Morrison had actual, tried and tested examples of potential future sources of funding. These included:
1. A sales tax on recording equipment – e.g. a 2.5% tax on MP3 players, PVRs, DVD recorders etc. (it’s not clear how/if this applies to computers/hard drives)
2. Retransmission levies – e.g. charging cable channels a small fee to rebroadcast material
3. Sales tax on other media – e.g. on cinema tickets, videos
4. A levy on broadband providers – e.g. an extra £1 on your £15 broadband bill
The difference between these and other, theoretical examples, is that each is currently in use in many other countries. The first is used in most major European countries (and raises over 500 million euros in revenue). Retransmission levies are in place in 30 European countries (according to Morrison) but not the UK. Similarly with the sales tax and levy.
These examples introduce a new dimension to the debate about the future of public service broadcasting. They reinvigorate a discussion that was becoming far too BBC-centric, and they give OFCOM new alternatives to research.
Whether there is any likelihood that, even were OFCOM to recommend one of these future funding methods, an incoming Conservative government would entertain the idea of introducing new taxes for future media provision is another question entirely. 

Written by Martin Moore

September 10th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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