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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Dyke determined on digital plans
Greg Dyke
Dyke: "Naturally disappointed"
BBC director general Greg Dyke has said he will act "with urgency" to present new plans for BBC Three, the digital entertainment TV channel rejected by the government.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell blocked the proposed BBC Three, which would have been a relaunched version of current digital channel BBC Choice.

Mr Dyke said he was "surprised and naturally disappointed" at the decision.

He insisted plans for BBC Three did meet the corporation's core public service criteria of distinctiveness and quality.


[The services] will generate new creative impetus and help uncover new talent right across the industry

Greg Dyke
"[Tessa Jowell] has invited us to put forward fresh proposals for this channel. We intend to do so with urgency," he said.

But the approval of three other TV services and five radio stations was "good news for listeners and viewers," he said.

"We are glad that she has emphasised that these new services are distinctive and offer public value.

"They will generate new creative impetus and help uncover new talent right across the industry."

Expensive

Mrs Jowell said she did not find the case for BBC Three convincing.

It would be too expensive and was too similar to a number of existing broadcasters, she said.

Other reasons, given in a letter to outgoing BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland, were that BBC Three received the least public support of the proposed channels, and was least likely to drive digital take-up.

Sir Christopher said the corporation remained convinced that the BBC "has much to offer younger audiences" - and that this was delivered most effectively through a dedicated channel.

The overall decision on all channels would let the BBC serve its audiences better in the future, he said.


The market alone cannot be relied on to offer diverse and high quality broadcasting

Deirdre Hutton
National Consumer Council
But the future of digital television in the UK is still no clearer, according to the National Consumer Council.

Chairman Deirdre Hutton said the decision was "flawed" and made "in the absence of clarity" about the future of public service broadcasting.

"The market alone cannot be relied on to offer diverse and high quality broadcasting," she said.

'Clearer'

"The BBC has a vital role in the digital era, and it is right for them to take up the opportunity to provide additional public service content.

"But first we need the government to be clearer in broad terms about what that content should be."

The government should not have agreed a licence fee increase to pay for the digital services before the BBC knew how they would spend the money, she said.

Broadcasters and the government should also not forget that many viewers still rely on analogue services, she added.

See also:

11 Jun 01 | Entertainment
Jowell's job at the top
11 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Tessa tackles in-tray
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