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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before