Westminster Media Forum

We are continuing to organise full-scale virtual conferences which retain all the features of physical seminars, including full programmes, presentations with slides, panel discussions and live delegate questions and comments sessions, person-to-person and group networking, and a permanent record provided to all delegates afterwards. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time, so there are plenty of opportunities to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are.
For booking-related queries or information on speaking please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk, or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.

If you’re already booked on, joining instructions can be accessed from five working days before your conference via the booking dashboard. Need help? Contact us at delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future for UK public service broadcasting - relevance, representation, resources, reach, viability, and priorities for policy and regulation

All day, Thursday, 9th September 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will bring out key perspectives on what is needed to underpin the ongoing viability of public service broadcasting, including accountability and ensuring that the PSB sector is representative of the society it serves.


This full-day conference is taking place in the context of the DCMS Committee report - The Future of Public Service Broadcasting - which was published in March this year, and made a range of recommendations aimed at enabling PSB to compete more effectively with on-demand streaming services, including proposals for increased collaboration among public service broadcasters.


It also takes place in the context of the Ofcom Small Screen: Big Debate study of PSB - and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to changing viewing habits among audiences, with a greater appetite for on-demand services.


The conference will be an opportunity for key stakeholders and policymakers to consider the impact of these developments on PSBs, as well as possible next steps to update the future prominence of public service broadcasting in the UK.


Sessions in the agenda look at:

  • The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into the future of public service broadcasting - key recommendations and implications for policy and practice, and next steps going forward
  • Resources for PSB - support and investment needs, exploring avenues for revenue and funding, and addressing the future of the licence fee
  • Viability of public service broadcasting in a digital age:
    • lessons from relocating - the impact on relevance and service
    • implementing new strategies for innovation
    • collaboration and the way forward for competing in an international market
  • Latest thinking from Small Screen: Big Debate - examining options for modernising the existing PSB framework
  • Authentic representation in public service broadcasting - priorities for diversity, accountability, leadership, and supporting the production of national and regional content
  • The road ahead for public service broadcasting

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DCMS; Ofcom; and the DIT.


Relevant developments:

  • The future of public service broadcasting - the DCMS Committee report examining the future of PSB:
    • highlighting changing viewer habits:
      • especially among younger audiences, and catalysed by the pandemic
      • with almost two thirds of UK households subscribed to a subscription on-demand service
    • including recommendations for:
      • increased collaboration among public service broadcasters, and exploring options for a single on-demand video platform, supported by Ofcom, to address the scale of PSBs in a US-dominated streaming services market
      • updating current legislation, to facilitate granting PSBs increased prominence without triggering regulatory concerns over market dominance
      • the Government to engage with how PSBs are funded, and to provide certainty about the decriminalisation of licence fee payment evasion 
  • negotiations on the future of the licence fee - with the Public Service Broadcasting Advisory Panel providing independent advice as part of the strategic review of public service broadcasting 
  • Small Screen: Big Debate - Ofcom’s consultation on the future of public service media, with recommendations due to be published in the summer
  • reaching a younger audience:
    • the National Audit Office report on the BBC - warning that:
      • the BBC is being ‘slow to change’ in addressing issues such as a declining viewership among younger audiences
      • that the BBC has been using savings to cover shortfalls
    • BBC3 - with plans to reinstate BBC3 on screen as part of the licence fee negotiations
  • Project Gigabit - the £5bn infrastructure project announced by the Government which:
    • aims to provide increased bandwidth to rural areas
    • will prioritise places that currently have slow connections and would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans
    • the move would have implications for the viability of any PSB plans for a wholly online public service broadcasting system, allowing for universal access 
  • Diamond - the Fourth Cut Report - diversity data released in 2020 on UK original productions commissioned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5/ViacomCBS and Sky, finding:
    • that disabled people continue to be the most under-represented group across all programmes
    • what is described as very low contributions being made in the role of writer or director across Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups

Key areas for discussion:
Recommendations from the DCMS inquiry:

  • progress so far and next steps for implementation:
    • international reach - discussion of PSBs’ ability to compete globally with the content and market position of US subscription on-demand services
    • local public service - assessing policy and regulatory support, whether expectations set for PSBs need to be reviewed, and the future sources and allocation of resources
  • addressing key challenges - in the context of the ongoing review of their fundamental purpose and function:
    • accessibility - how best to improve provision of linear and on-demand PSB services for all audiences, with the pandemic having highlighted choices and how they can be accessed
    • risks of reaching wider audiences - including the loss of brand identity when PSB content is hosted on alternative streaming services
    • governance and accountability - with the BBC under intensified scrutiny in the wake of the Dyson report on the BBC’s handling of the interview with Diana, Princess of Wales by Martin Bashir

Funding:

  • latest thinking - exploring sustainable avenues for future funding and new revenue streams, as well as assessing the value of the licence fee
  • the BBC - addressing its purpose and scope, with the Public Service Broadcasting Panel expected to have reached its conclusions about the future cost of the licence fee by Summer 2021

The viability of public service broadcasting in the digital age:

  • adapting to change - looking at opportunities and challenges, including:
    • extending cooperation between PSBs, in response to the global linear and on-demand market
    • the implications of broadband as a universal service for PSBs
  • innovation - assessing latest strategies and initiatives for PSBs to maintain their relevance, and protect and extend their reach
  • advertising and sponsorship - key issues for commercial PSBs, and the role of the Digital Markets Unit in respect of regulation and competition in online advertising

Modernising the existing PSB framework:

  • the Big Screen: Small Debate consultation:
    • issues and next steps - key takeaways from Ofcom’s consultation, and the way forward once government recommendations are published, expected in the summer
    • fragmentation - the challenges of regulating content in a market with ever-increasing options for diverse audiences with evolving needs, preferences and habits
    • Public Service Media - assessing proposals for encapsulating PSB in terms that would be applicable across news, radio, and broadcast TV, as well as online services
    • public attitudes and support - priorities for maintaining trust in PSBs among viewers, in the context of a proliferation in mis- and disinformation, especially online
  • national and regional presence:
    • developments - examining current measures to support the production of authentic content in the nations and regions
    • whether relocating is enough - exploring questions surrounding devolving commissioning power across nations, and the effect this would have on authentically reflecting all parts of the UK 
    • news - priorities for ensuring its relevance to nations, regions and communities served by PSB, as well as their devolved interests and priorities
  • on and off screen diversity:
    • progress - the state of play, next steps, latest thinking and best practice in ensuring representation across all aspects of public service broadcasting
    • thresholds - evaluating the DCMS inquiry recommendation that Ofcom introduce requirements in respect of BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled people in commissioning and senior production roles, and its potential impact on securing authentic on-screen representation of the UK’s diverse communities

The agenda:

  • Next steps for public service broadcasting - implications for policy and practice
  • The resources for PSB - support and investment needs, exploring avenues for revenue and funding, and addressing the future of the licence fee
  • The viability of public service broadcasting in a digital age
    • Lessons from relocating - the impact on authenticity and service
    • Connecting with audiences - what they want and need from PSB, and how can it be delivered
    • Implementing new strategies for innovation
    • Collaboration and the way forward for competing in an international market
    • Ensuring the provision of news content on PSB and competing with new entrants
  • Latest thinking from Small Screen: Big Debate - examining options for modernising the existing PSB framework
  • Supporting the production of national and regional content across the UK
  • Ensuring the PSB sector and the UK media sector has the skills needed to compete on a global stage
  • Supporting the production of original and children’s content on PSB
  • Priorities for ensuring authentic representation in public service broadcasting - diversity, accountability and leadership
  • The road ahead for public service broadcasting

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the DCMS the Department for International Trade; and Ofcom.


For this conference, as is typical of our meetings, we expect speakers and other delegates to be an informed group comprised of Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials in this area of public policy, together with other stakeholders including the BBC and other UK broadcasters, overseas public broadcasters and authorities, television unions, media groups, consumer bodies, media publishers, artist collectives, market researchers, data analysts, telecoms companies, education groups, funding bodies and charities as well as researchers in academia and higher education and reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, all-day programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Keynote Speakers

Clare Sumner

Director, Policy, BBC

Professor Catherine Johnson

Professor in Media & Communication, University of Huddersfield; and Special Advisor, DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into the Future of Public Service Broadcasting

Professor Patrick Barwise

Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing, London Business School; co-author of The War Against the BBC

Keynote Speakers

Clare Sumner

Director, Policy, BBC

Vikki Cook

Director, Diversity in UK Broadcasting, Ofcom

Professor Patrick Barwise

Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing, London Business School; co-author of The War Against the BBC

Professor Catherine Johnson

Professor in Media & Communication, University of Huddersfield; and Special Advisor, DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into the Future of Public Service Broadcasting

Chairs

John Nicolson MP

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

Andy Carter MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Media Group

Speakers

Helen Jay

Head of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Channel 4

Magnus Brooke

Director, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV

Mitchell Simmons

VP, Government Relations, ViacomCBS

Seetha Kumar

Chief Executive, ScreenSkills

David Smith

Director of Screen, Creative Scotland

Glyn Middleton

Head of Skills and Industry Engagement, Screen Yorkshire

Bobby Hain

Managing Director, Broadcast, STV