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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Highlights of Greg Dyke's speech

The BBC has a stark choice between changing itself or simply managing its decline gracefully, director general Greg Dyke said in his speech to the Edinburgh Television Festival.

The pressures of increased competition and digital television are combining to force the corporation to change the way it operates, he said.

Faced with many television channels to choose from, he said the corporation must rethink its structure.

What will BBC One, Two, Three and Four be like?
BBC One: popular, quality programming, modern, in touch, contemporary, the "gold standard of mainstream television"

BBC Two: intelligent specialist factual programmes, leisure and lifestyle, thoughtful analysis, creatively ambitious drama and comedy, specialist sports

BBC Three: original British comedy, drama and music, arts, education and social action for young audience like Radio 1's

BBC Four: unashamedly intellectual, a mixture of Radios 3 and 4 on television, based around arts, challenging music, ideas and in-depth discussion, serious in intent but unstuffy

BBC Three and Four will show children's programmes during the day
When all homes have digital television, he said, they would all be multi-channel homes. The government wants all houses to have digital televisions within 10 years.

He said this meant the BBC should offer a "portfolio of seven services" across five networks. This was the amount of channels he believed the corporation could afford, and the right number to address its diverse audiences.

He described how BBC One and BBC Two might adapt, and what BBC Three and BBC Four would be like, (see panel), and said two children's services would run on BBC Three and Four during the day. BBC News 24 would be the corporation's fifth channel.

Nine O'Clock News

The decision to move the Nine O'Clock News to 10pm would give the bulletin a more secure place in the schedules, because many post-watershed programmes start on other channels at 9pm. This meant the competition was tougher at 9pm than it is at 10.

He added: "Editorially we believe it is a better slot, after the US markets close and in time to report on the Commons' divisions, but the main reason for the move is that we believe that more people will watch it, it's as simple as that."

He defended the controversial News 24 channel, saying "I happen to like it and believe in its future. It seems obvious to me that the world's biggest news gatherer, the BBC, needs a 24-hour news service as part of its channel mix."

Maintaining rates of interest

Mr Dyke said that "huge gulfs" had opened up in the attitudes and values of different generations which also had an impact on broadcasters.

Greg Dyke's key points
Nine O'Clock News to move to 10pm

More money into programmes, 30% increase over 3 years

New 'portfolio' of channels, see below

Access to the BBC must remain universal, ie to everyone

Be the "engine" for great, original British programmes

Commitment to regional broadcasting

Resist political interference, and keep "plurality of regulators", ie the Board of Governors

He said: "In recent research, people from different age groups were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement, 'There is too much sex, bad language and violence on TV and in cinema today.' Amongst the over 45s, 72% said they agreed. Amongst the 25 to 34 year olds 79% disagreed."

People who are used to modern television, "the children of the multi-channel age", were used to choice and loved it. And they were not deferential to British institution such as the BBC, he said.

"This generation doesn't complain if they don't like our schedules they simply turn over. 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' is disappearing and being replaced by 'Not bothered of Newcastle'," he said.

Money

Mr Dyke said that the digital channels BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge had been launched with "not enough money to commission truly original and inspiring programmes, programming of the quality people expect from the BBC".

It was imperative to spend more on programmes, he said. The increase in the licence fee which will last for the next seven years would eventually give an increase of 250m a year.

But the corporation would also be making savings to pay for more programmes. Taken with the licence fee rise, this meant that in 2002/3 the BBC would be spending 480m a year more on programmes than last year. It was the biggest increase in programme expenditure in BBC history, he said.

Public service broadcasting

The BBC could help to avoid the emergence of a "digital underclass" where the rich have access to information but the poor do not, he sai.

With this in mind, he said the core principle of public service broadcasting, that everything is universally available, should continue.

"The BBC should be an essential part of the glue which binds this society together in the digital age," he said.

Programmes

He concluded that the BBC's single most important role would be to make possible the production of "great British programmes".

"The BBC's role in our society will always be complex - we're the guardian of impartiality and political independence, we're arguably the country's most important cultural organisation, we're a major player in the world of education, and increasingly we're Britain's leading global media player."

He said he had a "rather simple" definition of the BBC's purpose in the digital age. "It is to make and commission great British programmes. Everything else is secondary.


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