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
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine