BBC 'must end obsession with targeting under-35s'

Leave live sports and game shows to commercial channels, says Tory think-tank

The BBC has been warned to stop chasing young viewers and mass audiences by wasting money on sports rights, such as for Formula One coverage, and formulaic game shows, such as BBC One's Hole in the Wall, that could be provided by commercial channels.

A report by Policy Exchange, the centre-right progressive think-tank regarded as influential within David Cameron's Conservative strategy team, calls for the BBC to be made to spend 5 per cent of its licence fee income on making distinctive programmes for other broadcasters. It says that the BBC should not be trying to outbid commercial broadcasters to hire popular entertainment presenters and should end its obsession with attracting viewers under the age of 35.

The report's author Mark Oliver, who was head of strategy at the BBC when John Birt was its director general, said that the Corporation should only be making programmes that were distinctive. The BBC broadcasts wasteful content because it is mindful of its obligation to provide programming for all licence fee payers, he said. "There's a lot of pressure on the BBC to get to everybody."

Instead of wasting money on derivative programmes or expensive buy-ins designed to attract reluctant young viewers, the BBC should be co-funding the production of content on channels such as E4, where young people are already engaged, he said. "There are lots of commercial channels targeting under-35s so it gets expensive to get people to watch the BBC," said Mr Oliver. "The BBC spends half its money on getting people to come to its channels. It should start working with the market."

He accepted that there would be cultural resistance within the BBC to the idea of making programmes for other broadcasters, but Mr Oliver said there was some precedent in co-productions such as the Planet Earth series, made with the Discovery Channel, Canada's CBC and Japan's NHK.

The report, Changing the Channel, also recommended the privatisation of Channel 4 by 2012, though it said the channel should retain a public service broadcasting licence for a further decade, receive additional digital capacity and be allowed to keep the proceeds from privatisation. It also said Channel 4 should be allowed to merge with Five.

Channel 4 welcomed the recognition of its public service role, but stated: "We oppose privatisation and remain firmly of the view that our publicly owned, not-for-profit status is the most effective means of ensuring Channel 4 can continue to play the public service role the report endorses."

The paper also recommended that ITV1 and Five be allowed by 2012 to opt out of their public service obligations but should be allowed to remain at the top of the electronic programme guide. The channels would pay for the privileged digital-terrestrial access they have previously been gifted and the money paid to a new Public Service Content Trust, which would oversee the provision of such programming.

Shows under fire

Hole in the Wall (BBC One)

"A basic, low concept idea bought off the shelf and something which ITV or Five would easily have picked up."

Snog, Marry, Avoid (BBC Three)

"A make-over and dating show for young people, which is trying to show you how to portray yourself as the marrying kind, not that that's hard."

We Need Answers (BBC Four)

"An attempt to get a younger audience. It has celebrity guests doing stupid things and trying to win points. It's something that could be on the Bravo or Living channels."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gaming Brand

40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...