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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
TV watchdog raps 'humdrum' BBC
Holby City
Holby City is one of the shows criticised
The director of the Broadcasting Standards Commission has criticised the BBC for showing too many programmes which he describes as "humdrum" and "formulaic".

Paul Bolt told the Financial Times the BBC should be focusing on providing more innovative and imaginative scheduling rather than trying to capture the popular market.

And he suggested that some of the corporation's services - like the new digital channel BBC Four- should lose their licence-fee funding and be available on a subscription-only basis.

Mr Bolt, who is viewed by many as the leading candidate to head the new communications regulator Ofcom, singled out hospital series Holby City and police drama Mersey Beat for particular criticism.

If the BBC isn't at the cutting edge and constantly refreshing itself with new things, then people will tire of it

Paul Bolt, BSC

"One begins to wonder what really is the point of the BBC bringing this to us. Let's have something a bit different," he told the Financial Times.

However, Mr Bolt did express enthusiasm for some BBC output, praising the drama Clocking Off.

"What's nice about it is you can imagine someone pitching it to a commercial station and getting laughed out of court," he said.

"That's archetypally the kind of thing the BBC should be striving to do."

Mr Bolt praised the corporation's news output, particularly the Ten O'Clock News bulletin, which he described as "extremely intelligently produced" - and he also admitted to being a huge fan of Teletubbies.

Teletubbies
Mr Bolt says he is a "huge fan" of Teletubbies
However he suggested that the BBC risks undermining support for the licence fee, and that like its commercial competitors, it should be eligible to be fined for breaching standards.

"If the BBC isn't at the cutting edge, being original and constantly refreshing itself with new things, then people will tire of it."

He also suggested that Channel 4 should be given a secure form of funding in order to maintain its public service - one possible solution could be to link the channel to the BBC licence fee.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation had no comment to make, since Mr Bolt's opinions were personal.

Since Greg Dyke became director general in 2000, the BBC has beaten ITV's television ratings. Last year the BBC audience share rose to 38.4% - while ITV's dropped to 25.7%.

See also:

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