Ms Jowell's strange flirtation with cultural protectionism

Share
Related Topics

Of all the BBC's new digital channels, it is BBC Three that has proved the most troublesome. For, unlike BBC News 24, BBC Four or BBC Choice (which it replaces), it is the one that is both in direct competition with commercial broadcasters and the furthest removed from the BBC's traditional brief to educate, inform and entertain, being aimed at younger viewers and solely concerned with the last of that Reithian trilogy.

Such concerns seemed to be shared by the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell. A year ago, when the plan for the other BBC channels was approved, her department made little secret of its view that BBC Three had little connection with public-service broadcasting. Since then we have seen the collapse of ITV Digital and its rescue by a BBC-BSkyB-Crown consortium, The reborn digital terrestrial service, Freeview, is due to begin transmission by the end of next month.

The Government's dream of a digitised Britain was thus saved, for the moment at least. Now we find that Ms Jowell has relented in her opposition to BBC Three and given it the green light, despite the apparent undue reliance on the debatable talents of Johnny Vaughan. She even said that she expected the new channel to be a "powerhouse for new talent". So, trebles all round at Television Centre?

Not quite. For in giving the BBC's director general, Greg Dyke, his full "family" of channels, she has tied some conditions to the deal. Most are sensible, although often subjective. The oddest is the requirement that 90 per cent of programme hours for the service are made in the European Union or European Economic Area.

This is cultural protectionism at its worst. We would love to see a greater European perspective on our television screens. But this edict defies logic, raising the possibility of second-rate programming to satisfy politically inspired quotas. It also carries the implication that shows made in Australia or the United States are necessarily inferior to those produced in Belgium or Norway. That might sometimes be true, but it is not for 90 per cent of the time. It may lead to some novel programming. BBC Three will make for interesting viewing, if only for that reason.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there