The BBC plans to up the licence fee by 2.3 per cent each year above inflation, meaning the current fee of #126.50 could rise to nearly #170 by 2013. BBC director general Mark Thompson made the case for the above-inflation licence fee settlement, saying the extra money was needed to fund the digital switchover and produce better quality original programmes rather than endless repeats. Midlands broadcast experts react to Auntie's plan...

Dan Jones, editor of Channel 4's Birmingham regional creative hub, the Ideasfactory, based-in Birmingham asks how our licence fees will support new talent.

Let's face it - no one likes paying more than they have to for anything. If you are going to pay more, you like to know exactly what you're getting for your money.

It is fantastic that increased BBC spending in Birmingham has already benefited talent through increased levels of production, and may well balance the decline in opportunities from ITV Central.

If the proposed increase is approved, part of the BBC's new spending plan includes what is, in theory a welcome additional # 600 million investment in the regions, including improved local services and the formation of a new TV region for central England.

But what does this mean for those entering the industry?

The BBC celebrates wellknown new talent initiatives such as Fame Academy, but how will the increased investment fill the gap at ground level, discovering and nurturing future creative producers rather than just TV presenters and pop stars?

Ideasfactory has worked successfully with new talent in the regions, creating a strong public-private partnership between Advantage West Midlands and a broadcaster. Channel 4 does not currently receive a share of the licence fee, but is meeting its public service obligations by utilising its brand to establish numerous creative projects, despite not even having an office in the Midlands.

Today sees the launch of two major local Ideasfactory initiatives - TEN4, a new creative industries magazine for the region; and Creative Festival, a series of 26 free workshops, talks, seminars and oneoneone sessions covering everything from screen-based media to the wider creative industries including music, design, fashion and art.

If someone examined what the BBC was doing specifically for new talent in the region, what would they find?

The hope is that increased spending will mean that the BBC can really drive creativity forward and create partnerships with initiatives like Ideasfactory to make an even stronger long-term impact on talent in the region.

Jonnie Turpie, executive chairman of city-based production company Maverick Television says goodbye to the box in the corner.
 
Soon we will not be talking about broadcasting in the usual way, as TV will just be a lonely old box in the corner while we will be watching, using and interacting with digital screens of all sorts.

Our children know this already as they research their homework on the web, pick up their txts and msn messages, before leaping on to their PlayStation or watching a bit of telly.

The BBC know this too. They are requesting licence fee increases to take public service broadcasting into the digital world.

They are right to do so to maintain the UK's premier position in the world of television content.

As the major commissioner of public service TV, they need to be in a secure position for the foreseeable future for producers and consumers alike.

However, as the communications regulator Ofcom points out, perhaps the BBC should not be the sole deliverer of public service content in the digital world ahead. To ensure all of us have choice and access to high quality digital content we will need a new provider - a public service publisher (PSP).

The PSP will deliver digital content across platforms, some we know and some not yet invented.

By raising the PSP proposal, Ofcom have suggested that the BBC may need some gentle competition, much like Channel 4 was to broadcasting in 1984, which we know now was a wonderfully transforming policy decision.

Obviously, the best location for a new national media publisher like the PSP is Birmingham.

This will work well with the BBC's suggestion to help grow "a new TV region in central England", with our region's creative producers at the helm.

Urban Communications MD Kevin Johnson is a former head of regional affairs at ITV Central. Auntie's good, he says, but must face up to issues.

The BBC remains a uniquely successful, British institution. It broadcasts fantastic programmes - from Robert Winston's Child of Our Time to the return of Dr Who.

The big occasions are best showcased by the BBC, red button and all. Radio 5 is itself a news story, bbc.co.uk an incredible resource. BBC Three is about the only place to break new comedy. Its digital radio stations lead the audio revolution and Freeview is the free-to-air phoenix from ITV Digital's flames.

At today's prices in 2013, 41p for all the BBC offers is a daily bargain for anyone seeking information, entertainment or education.

The argument is already won about whether the licence fee is the "least worst" way of funding Auntie, but the BBC faces wider questions. John Birt did an unbelievable job in securing the last inflationbusting licence deal. Can Michael Grade repeat his feat?

As anyone who's seen the BBC up close, the corporation is in urgent need of more efficiencies. Surely, they can find more #2.6 billion of "self help".

In today's era of accountability and regulation, do plans for trustees to replace governors create enough distance between scrutinisers and executives?

Attracting commercial revenues should be encouraged. But too many examples exist of BBC commercialism skewing the market. Are all its services and programmes distinctive enough? It's difficult to see the point of BBC News 24 when it entered the rolling battle after Sky News and remains some way short.

The BBC has exciting plans - making content widely available across multiple platforms. It has a vital role in spearheading digital switchover, but is a bigger licence fee the correct mechanism for all costs?

The BBC should be cherished, although quality products and services are seldom delivered by growing giants, especially without commercial rigour and shareholder pressure. Perhaps a move 85 miles short of Manchester would make it more affordable?