22 December 2016
Arrangements between the States of Jersey and the BBC for the provision of broadcasting services in the Bailiwick of Jersey have been finalised.
These arrangements include assurances on the future of the BBC’s service provision to Jersey, as well as agreeing arrangements in respect of TV licences for over-75s in Jersey.
From 2018, the BBC intends to begin contributing towards the cost of Jersey’s means-tested concession to the TV licence for eligible citizens over the age of 75. This contribution will be approximately £270,000 from 2018 to 2020.
The current arrangements with the BBC expire on 31 December 2016 and States of Jersey officers have, since 2015, been in regular discussions with the BBC and the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to renew them.
An exchange of formal letters has now been made between the Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf, and the BBC’s Director of Charter and Policy, on behalf of the BBC Executive.
Senator Ozouf said “Where appropriate, these discussions have been conducted on a pan-Island basis with representatives of Guernsey and the Isle of Man, to ensure an equitable approach across the Crown Dependencies. This excellent outcome is undoubtedly the result of the good working relationship that our officers within the Chief Minister’s Department and the London Office have built up with the BBC over the past year or so.”
The BBC and the States of Jersey have now made a number of commitments respectively. The BBC has committed its intention to:
- treat all Crown Dependencies equitably
- continue to provide Jersey with radio, television and other services (such as coverage of States sittings) to the same extent that it currently does
- contribute phased funding for Jersey’s means-tested TV licence concession for people over the age of 75 (providing one third of the cost in 2018/19 and two thirds of the cost in 2019/20) – this will save the States approx. £90,000 and £180,000 over the two years respectively
- contribute the full cost in 2020/21 of Jersey’s means-tested TV licence concession for people over the age of 75.
The licence fee will also be uprated in line with inflation.
The BBC’s funding contribution is subject to the BBC gaining full control of its funding liability under the concession in 2020, at which point the concession model may change. The States’ understanding is that the BBC will, at this point, aim to treat all licence fee payers equitably.
To enable the BBC to deliver on these intentions, the States has also committed its intention to continue to extend Part 4 of the Communications Act, together with its subordinate legislation, to its territory, and in particular to retain the licence fee in Jersey with criminal deterrence. The States has also committed its intention to retain Regulation 9, including to ensure that a TV licence is required to watch or download any programme within an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC.
The States will also be required to enact some legislative reform in Jersey. The extent of this reform is being considered by the Law Officers’ Department at the moment, but (in particular) certain provisions of the UK Digital Economy Bill relating to TV Licences will need to be extended, as well as those that allow Ofcom to perform their new regulatory role to the BBC, which replaces self-regulation by the BBC Trust.