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06 February 2020

Culture Secretary: More BBC Funds Could Go To Other Media Organisations  

More BBC funds could go to other media organisations to produce top quality content which benefits the public, the Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has said.

Speaking after the Government’s announcement of a consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion, the Culture Secretary suggested that funding models such as the News Media Association’s Local News Partnership with the BBC  “may well be a model to carry on with.”    

The Culture Secretary told the Today programme this morning: “The BBC is a big powerful organisation and obviously as media secretary I get spoken to by all sorts of different media organisations, often some very small local media for example.

“I think there’s been a debate in the past about the power of BBC local websites, local radio stations, what that does to other media.

“We’ve seen these two pilot funds which are particularly about children’s programming and audio content where the BBC, as well as supporting local journalism, has put money in, for people who are often working for other organisations which actually then shows off the best of public service broadcasting.

“That may well be a model to carry on with.”   

Delivering the keynote speech on the future of UK media and broadcasting at the Policy Exchange, Ms Morgan referenced the LNP and a new three-year pilot contestable £60 million fund for others to produce children's TV programming and public service radio content.

Ms Morgan said: “These funds launched in April 2019, and are performing well. Indeed today the audio content fund announced that it has made 25 awards in its first year, with over a quarter for regional programmes.

“This delivers on the objective set out by the Government for the funding to support regional voices. These ideas and reforms will help build up the evidence base for future funding models, ahead of the next Charter Review.”

Ms Morgan also said it was time to take a “fresh and forward-facing look” at what the Public Service Broadcasting system would provide in the future, ahead of Ofcom's PSB Review. An update on this would be published “in the coming weeks,” she said.

In questions after the speech, Ms Morgan also called for officials to sit down with the lobby to “work out” media access issues after political editors walked out of Number 10 Downing Street in protest at handpicking of journalists for a Government briefing.  

She said: “At the end of the day I don’t think it serves anybody for this as a debate to be continuing and I hope very much that actually the best thing would be for the co-chairs of the press lobby here in Westminster to sit down with the director of communications and to work this out."

The deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on decriminalisation of TV licence evasion is 5pm on 1 April.