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Communications Act 2003

Schedule 12: Corresponding obligations of the BBC and Welsh Authority

897.This Schedule sets out obligations that correspond to those in the regulatory regime for licensed providers and apply to the BBC and the Welsh Authority. Paragraph 2 provides that the BBC is under a duty to publicise OFCOM’s functions under Part 5 of the 1996 Act (fairness and privacy) and any procedures established by OFCOM or the BBC for the handling and resolution of complaints about the observance by the BBC of standards set under section 319. The BBC is also under a duty to comply with the quota on independent productions detailed in paragraph 1 of Schedule 12, which mirrors the requirements applying to licensed providers. This quota applies across the whole of the television broadcasting services provided by the BBC, subject to sub-paragraphs (8) and (9), which allow the BBC Charter and Agreement to provide for the quota to apply to particular services or groups of services collectively.

898.This Schedule also sets out a number of obligations of the Welsh Authority. Paragraph 3 sets out the duty of the Authority to secure that each of their public service remits for S4C, S4C Digital and other services authorised by the Secretary of State under section 205 is fulfilled. The public service remits of the Welsh Authority may be amended by order of the Secretary of State. However, before making any such amendment the Secretary of State must consult the Welsh Authority and, if the order relates to programmes that are not in Welsh, the Channel Four Television Corporation. Any order amending the public service remits of S4C or S4C Digital must be consistent with the requirement that those services should further the dissemination of information, education and entertainment and should include programmes a substantial proportion of which are in Welsh. Paragraph 4 requires the Authority to prepare an annual statement of programme policy, and to monitor their performance against the proposals contained therein. Such proposals must include the means by which the Authority intend to secure that the public service remits for their services are to be fulfilled. Each statement must also contain a report on the Authority’s performance in carrying out the proposals they set themselves in the previous such statement. When preparing any statement the Authority must consider any guidance by OFCOM that is in force for the purposes of section 266 and any reports previously published by OFCOM under section 264 or 358.

899.Paragraph 5 imposes must-offer obligations on the Welsh Authority in relation to their public digital services, requiring them to make such services available for broadcast or distribution by every appropriate network and for broadcast by means of every satellite service available for reception in Wales. The Authority must do their best to ensure that there are arrangements for the broadcast or distribution of their public digital services that result in their being available free of charge to as many of the intended audience for any given service as is practicable. “Appropriate network”, “intended audience” and “satellite television service” are defined in sub-paragraph (8). Paragraph 6 places a duty on the Authority to join with the providers of other must-provide services to meet the requirements of section 274 to secure the reception of such services free of charge in areas where they would otherwise not be available.

900.Paragraphs 7 and 8 detail the programming quotas for independent and for original productions that are to be secured by the Welsh Authority in relation to their designated public services (which, for these purposes, are to be taken together). The proportion of programming to be made up of original productions is to be agreed between OFCOM and the Welsh Authority, with a power of direction for OFCOM in the absence of an agreement.

901.Paragraph 9 provides that the Welsh Authority are under a duty to ensure that their designated public services broadcast high quality news and current affairs programmes, at intervals throughout the period for which the service is provided and at times that include peak viewing times. Peak viewing times, for the purposes of paragraphs 8 and 9, will be determined by agreement between OFCOM and the Authority, with a power of direction for OFCOM in the absence of an agreement.

902.Paragraph 10 requires the Welsh Authority to draw up, to revise from time to time and to comply with a code of practice setting out the principles they will apply when agreeing terms for the commissioning of independent productions. The code must be submitted to OFCOM for approval and will have effect only if approved by OFCOM.

903.Paragraph 11 requires the Welsh Authority to grant to the public teletext provider, on payment of a reasonable charge, access to the facilities reasonably required for the provision of the public teletext service. In the event of a dispute about charges, the amount is to be determined by OFCOM.

904.Paragraph 12 provides that the Welsh Authority are under a duty to ensure that S4C and S4C Digital observe the programme standards set under section 319. Paragraph 13 requires the Authority to comply with a direction by OFCOM with respect to the establishment of complaints procedures relating to programme standards under section 319.

905.Paragraph 14 requires the Authority to comply with directions by OFCOM in relation to the exclusion of advertisements or types of sponsorship from their public television services. The Authority are also required, under paragraph 16, to comply with directions by OFCOM as to the amount of advertisements, the interval between them and the frequency of advertising breaks.

906.Paragraph 15 gives OFCOM the power to direct the Authority to broadcast a correction or statement of findings for a breach of programme or advertising standards. Paragraph 21 gives OFCOM the power, after consulting the Authority, to issue directions to the Authority to ensure compliance with all relevant international obligations. The Authority are required to comply with such directions.

907.Paragraph 17 requires the Welsh Authority to secure the observance of the fairness code for the time being in force under section 107 of the Broadcasting Act 1996. Paragraph 18 requires the Welsh Authority to include party political broadcasts and referendum campaign broadcasts in their designated public services. They must also draft and publish a document setting out their policy with regard to such broadcasts and review and revise this policy periodically.

908.Paragraph 19 sets out the duty of the Welsh Authority to publicise OFCOM’s functions under Part 5 of the Broadcasting Act 1996 in relation to the Authority and any procedures established for the handling of complaints about the observance by the Authority of standards set under section 319. Paragraph 20 requires the Authority to retain recordings of programmes and, on request, to supply such recordings or scripts or transcripts to OFCOM.

909.Finally, paragraphs 22 and 23 set out the duty of the Welsh Authority to observe the code under section 303 of the Act when providing services for the deaf and visually impaired, and to promote equality of opportunity.

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