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Commercial b’casters call for BBC reforms

The Commercial Broadcasters Association has called for new rules to force the BBC to make a better case for any new services that it plans to launch.

Adam MinnsCOBA is the industry group for the UK’s commercial broadcasters. It argued that the onus should be on UK pubcaster the BBC to “convincingly and demonstrably” prove new services provide added value to the public.

“Where there is little or no public value created by a proposal, then the priority should be to avoid a negative market impact, rather than permitting expansion for the sake of it,” COBA said.

The industry group noted the recent decision to extend the broadcast hours of the CBBC kids channel, in the wake of the closure of the BBC Three broadcast service, saying this happened despite opposition from within the TV industry and from the public.

The broadcasters industry group also joined wider calls for an external body to oversee the BBC and any new services it proposes to roll out.

BBC director general Tony Hall and many in the industry have called for the same, and for a new entity to replace the current governing body, the BBC Trust.

Adam Minns (pictured), COBA’s executive director, said: “COBA supports the licence fee, the BBC’s vital role as a cornerstone of the UK broadcasting sector, and indeed the Public Value Test system in principle. But extending CBBC’s hours shows that aspects of the Public Value Test need reform to avoid expansion for the sake of it.

“Industry opposes this decision, the public opposes it, and it doesn’t save any money: it is hard to see who it benefits.”