Public Service Broadcasting Contestable Fund

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th September 2017.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon 12:00 am, 14th September 2017

What progress her Department has made on establishing a public service broadcasting contestable fund.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

As part of the BBC charter review, the first part of which took place under my right hon. Friend’s wise leadership, the Government committed to establish a pilot for a new contestable fund. The Government’s consultation closed earlier this year, and we will publish the response and the next steps in due course.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon

While I recognise the BBC’s huge contribution to public service broadcasting, does the Minister agree that some TV genres are underserved, and that a public service broadcasting contestable fund could increase competition and innovation? Will he confirm that the Government intend to go ahead with a pilot in due course?

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Yes, I agree with everything my right hon. Friend said, and I can confirm that that pilot will be going ahead.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

I love the BBC, even though Sarah Sands, the new editor of the “Today” programme, and Nick Robinson seem to be destroying that programme at the moment. I therefore start with a prejudice, but when I look at the sort of deals that have always been favoured by Conservative Members who want to privatise by the back door, I see MediaCom, Singapore and the black hand of international companies such as the Murdoch empire.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

I normally think the hon. Gentleman is sensible, but today he seems to have avoided that. The contestable fund is about ensuring that we have a great diversity of success in broadcasting in our nation. As for the “Today” programme, I thought Nick Robinson’s broadcasts from Silicon Valley yesterday were superb. They were all about the interesting changes that are going on in the world and the economy due to artificial intelligence and digital. I thought that was another excellent direction for the BBC to be taking.