Report backs corporation's funding campaign

LONDON — The U.K.’s creative industries would be worse off to the tune of at least £5 billion ($10 billion) if the BBC did not exist, according to a report commissioned by the org’s governing body the BBC Trust.

The report, titled “The Economic Impact of the BBC on the U.K. Creative and Broadcasting Sector” puts the overall contribution of the pubcaster to the U.K. economy at approximately £6.5 billion ($13 billion) a year, of which £5 billion ($10 billion) is invested in the creative sector alone.

Carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the research is the latest contribution to the increasingly heated debate over public service broadcasting in Blighty, which has seen commercial rivals calling for a share of the $6 billion in public funding that the BBC receives annually.

According to the report, though, “a substantial reduction in or removal of license fee funding would serve to reduce the available funding for the broadcasting sector as a whole.”

In particular, the report points to the BBC’s “significant investment in both in-house and independent production” as a key factor behind the growing success of U.K. programming around the world.

“The BBC plays a leading role in the U.K. creative and broadcasting sector by helping to stimulate, develop and sustain investment in high-quality broadcast content,” it argues.

“Without the positive impact of the BBC, other parts of the creative sector, ranging from the U.K. film industry to orchestras and language services to the nations, could be greatly diminished or lost.”

The report also highlights the BBC’s strong track record in training, as well as in developing new technology and platforms, such as digital TV, as other major benefits to the U.K. overall.

Speaking at a European Union conference on public-service broadcasting Thursday, Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, pointed to the research as evidence of the continued importance of public service broadcasting across Europe.

“The message is an important one: successful and accountable public service broadcasters bring positive benefits to the overall creative economy — and this can apply not just to the U.K., but to Europe as a whole.”

However, the report also highlights areas where the BBC could have a negative impact on commercial markets and Lyons is keen to see the corporation working more closely with commercial rivals.

“The executive is now actively exploring new ways to bring the benefits of the BBC’s scale and public investment to the whole sector and we expect to see detailed proposals before the end of the year,” he said.

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