BBC broadband funding plan meets mixed response
Today's announcement of a legally binding agreement releasing £150 million to finance the latest stage of high-speed broadband access has been met with a mixed reaction from the CWU.
As part of the BBC licence fee settlement with the Government,
the broadcaster is required to put this cash towards the 2013/14
and 2016/17 broadband rollout programme, which will be overseen by
the BBC Trust.
The CWU has been campaigning for universal high-speed broadband access for several years and, reacting to today's announcement, the union's deputy general secretary Andy Kerr welcomed the money and said: "It is right the BBC Trust should have a role in overseeing the use of BBC funds, given that the BBC has been asked to provide the lion's share of public funding for broadband delivery.
"But research shows that more public funding will be
required to get faster broadband out to rural and remote areas, and
the BBC should not be expected to carry this cost alone," he
Andy said that other broadcasters stood to benefit from the
rollout of the new high-speed infrastructure. "They will rely
heavily on having access to a high-speed broadband network to
distribute their services and it would be fair to ask them to
contribute to the cost," he suggested. "Commercial
broadcasters will benefit from using a network built by public
funds to deliver highly profitable premium film and sport at
exclusive prices" he pointed out.
Although the money is welcome, Andy warned that
diverting cash from the licence fee settlement could adversely
affect the BBC's output of quality public service programming
over the next five years.
"The CWU is by no means alone in saying the Government
needs a much more ambitious strategy for broadband to keep pace
with our global competitors," Andy continued, explaining that
the union has been and continues to campaign for a universal
service obligation for broadband, funded by a communications
industry-wide levy similar to that proposed by Labour in 2010.
"A small levy is the best way to bring reliable access to
quality broadband services to every UK home and business, helping
to close the digital divide and create jobs and growth right across
the country," he stressed.
For further details, visit the Delivering Digital Britain