As part of the BBC charter review, the first part of which took place under my right hon. Friend’s wise leadership, the Government committed to establish a pilot for a new contestable fund. The Government’s consultation closed earlier this year, and we will publish the response and the next steps in due course.
While I recognise the BBC’s huge contribution to public service broadcasting, does the Minister agree that some TV genres are underserved and that a public service broadcasting contestable fund could increase competition and innovation? Will he confirm that the Government intend to go ahead with a pilot in due course?
I love the BBC, even though Sarah Sands, the new editor of the “Today” programme, and Nick Robinson seem to be destroying that programme at the moment. I therefore start with a prejudice, but when I look at the sort of deals that have always been favoured by Conservative Members who want to privatise by the back door, I see MediaCom, Singapore and the black hand of international companies such as the Murdoch empire.
I normally think the hon. Gentleman is sensible, but today he seems to have avoided that. The contestable fund is about ensuring that we have a great diversity of success in broadcasting in our nation. As for the “Today” programme, I thought Nick Robinson’s broadcasts from Silicon Valley yesterday were superb. They were all about the interesting changes that are going on in the world and the economy due to artificial intelligence and digital. I thought that was another excellent direction for the BBC to be taking.