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SUBMISSION: Securing the Future of Arts Broadcasting

The submission by Caitriona Noonan (Cardiff University) and Amy Genders (University of South Wales) focuses on the issue of serious decline in arts provision on public service television brought on mainly by structural and commercial changes in the television sector. Noonan and Genders argue that the need for intervention in arts television is even more crucial given the genre’s uniquely national character and mission to promote a shared and diverse cultural life. As television remains the key way to engage with arts across the UK, the medium is vital for the provision of the genre so that everyone has access to arts and culture regardless of economic or social background. Noonan and Genders furthermore acknowledge the need for a greater diversity in terms of subject matter in arts, taking more creative risks, and considering production and distribution strategies which would engage more with younger audiences as well as involve communities across the UK, not just the capital. Read the submission in full here.

SUBMISSION: Debating ‘Distinctiveness’: How Useful is it as a Concept in Measuring the Value and Impact of the BBC?

Peter Goddard (University of Liverpool) questions the usefulness of the concept of ‘distinctiveness’ in measuring the value and impact of the BBC. With the term becoming policy nom du jour, Goddard argues that the term’s elastic and contradictory uses ‘conceals a threat to the notion of the BBC as a universal broadcaster as well.’ Goddard offers examples of BBC’s distinctive ‘breakout hits’ such as Top Gear and The Great British Bake Off which were not obvious candidates for commercial success, and could have only been developed within the non-profit model of broadcasting. Yet, while these programmes are initially praised for distinctiveness, they are also criticised for the lack of it, due to their popularity and longevity. The success and distinctiveness of popular programmes that the BBC produces is determined by its public service model, and its commitment to universality; as Goddard further points out, the BBC’s competitiveness is crucial to the ‘whole secure in ensuring that its competitors must seek to match quality of its output in order to compete for audiences.’ Read Goddard’s submission in full here.

SUBMISSION: Television, Quality of Life and the Value of Culture

David Hesmondhalgh (University of Leeds) focuses on television being one of the key contributors to culture and thus overall quality of life. Culture has been intensified by digitisation ‘which allows access to culture to become more mobile, flexible, and frequent’. Culture has therefore become even more central to our lives and should ‘be considered alongside merit goods in the health and education sectors, as requiring public, democratic provision to prevent under-supply of goods that have a significant effect on people’s quality of life.’ As such, television should not be left to the market and only be understood in terms of consumers’ subjective preferences, as ‘consumers will generally over-value in advance the familiar, and underestimate the benefits of the fresh, the innovative and the challenging.’ As digitalisation also intensifies the problem of cultural fragmentation, a version of the current ecology of ‘a generously and universally funded BBC, alongside public service oriented commercial providers, must surely remain the prime means by which such cultural fragmentation is countered.’ Read Hesmondhalgh’s submission in full here.

EVENT UPDATE: Does Television Represent Us?

Film producer and Labour Peer David Puttnam brings his Inquiry into the Future of Television to Liverpool on 4th May. 

Ken Loach, Phil Redmond CBERuth Fox (Chair, Hansard Society) and Cat Lewis (Nine Lives Media and Nations & Regions rep for indie producers’ association Pact) discuss whether TV reflects the lifestyles and opinions of people across the UK or whether it more of a mouthpiece for the ‘London bubble’. To what extent does TV offer a space to talk politics and how much does it feature a range of voices, perspectives and backgrounds? Come and contribute to the debate and the Inquiry and listen to leading creative voices who want to make TV relevant to people where they live. 

The event is hosted by Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall festival and will also feature data from a new study into how TV has contributed to political debate in Liverpool, carried out by researchers at the Hansard Society. This event is one of seven across the UK that will inform the Inquiry with its final Report due to be launched on 29 June 2016.

Tickets: £5/3 BUY TICKETS HERE

Students are free with a valid NUS card.  

SUBMISSION: Reconsidering the BBC Public Purpose of ‘Sustaining Citizenship and Civil Society’

A short submission by Jay Blumler (Emeritus Professor, University of Leeds) focuses on the BBC’s public purpose of ‘sustaining citizenship and civil society’ as being inadequate and too general so ‘that any editor of any news outlet could claim to subscribe to and to be serving it.’ According to Blumler, recent years have seen a diminishing of the civic mission of BBC news and current affairs. This has taken place due to various issues, including unrelenting competition to attract and hold audiences as well as ‘a drift away from a mixture of sacerdotal and pragmatic approaches to political news toward a more purely pragmatic one.’ The public purpose therefore needs to be made more specific: to provide information and analysis of current events, as well as include a provision of presenting ‘the main options among different ways of dealing with current issues’ and ‘ensuring that the experiences and views of all sectors of society likely to be affected by proposed policies are presented and heard.’ Read Blumler’s submission in full here.