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BBC criticises commercial rivals

BBC director general Mark Thompson recently criticised the corporation's commercial rivals over declining standards in programme making. But what do viewers think? Here's a short video on what they think about the quality of programmes on commercial TV, compared with the BBC.

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Thompson said in a speech at Westminster that the market was failing the public and that falling standards among commercial broadcasters were creating "yawning gaps" in non-public service programming, writes Nikki Sandison. He used the speech as a defence of the licence fee and its renewal in five years time.

Thompson said that standards were falling particularly in areas of news and current affairs and cited BSkyB's decision to remove Sky News from Freeview as an example of non-PSB broadcasting failing to meet the needs of the public.

He said: "In the UK the only substantial TV news and current affairs is associated with public service intervention of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. There is only one significant and high-quality commercial player, Sky News. But BSkyB is not a PSB."

Thompson went on to defend the BBC's licence fee and said that the corporation was still providing value for money. He cited the fact that employee numbers were significantly smaller than they were three years ago, but that the BBC now produced 535 minutes of news a week, 450 minutes of drama -- four times as much as it did in 1982 -- and there were no US imports on prime time.

Thompson said: "Around the world, including in markets like the US with no tradition of public intervention like ours, investment in news is undergoing a crisis. In virtually every country I know, newspapers are cutting back their spend on foreign reporting and on investigative journalism as well."

Thompson also criticised the UK government for failing to stop the rise of young adults leaving school without qualifications, claiming that many young people in the UK were being economically marginalised from taking a career in broadcasting due to poor exam results. He said that PSB had a role to play in this.

"Market failure in the supply of quality news and current affairs is growing. And it's not just news, skills and knowledge will be vital if Britain is to succeed in the world of 2012. Yet million of Britons leave our education system with a deficit which the BBC and other PBSs could address."

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