Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hell yes, I'm panicking

At the risk of sounding like Corporal "Don't Panic" Jones, I remain unconvinced by the assertion that John Whittingdale is no real threat to Auntie.

As chair of the Culture Select Committee, he was advised by Ray Gallagher, for many years Head of Public Affairs at Sky, and now a "Communications and PR Consultant". Ray took a day off from work last September to attend a two-hour speed debate on the licence fee, organised by City University. Here's his contribution, as noted by Maggie Brown.

Ray Gallagher, adviser to Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, responded that, in 2004, Greg Dyke, then BBC Director-General, had deliberately promoted Freeview as a way to “flood the market with dumb Freeview boxes”. His strategy had ensured that there was no facility to turn users on or off, as with satellite and cable, and so introduce subscription. 

Gallagher asked: “Should steps be taken to promote conditional access [in future]?”

Colette Bowe, former Chair of Ofcom, added her tuppence-worth at the same forum.

"I haven’t heard a single argument that some form of conditional access around the iPlayer is not the thing to try."

As we noted earlier today, Lord Hall and Tim Davie are headed in a different direction with the BBC Store.

Meanwhile, re-reading the Culture Select Committee report on the Future of the BBC, there are all sorts of nuggets worth thinking about...

"We recommend an additional means be developed to trigger public value and market impact tests where there is prima facie evidence of the BBC crowding out others’ endeavours and having an adverse market impact."

Whatever this "additional means" turns out to be, the first people on its doorstep will be The Radio Centre, Sky and Johnston Press.

I also expect Whittingdale to oversee the creation of a sort Un-Public Service-Activities Committee, which will patrol the BBC's schedules, cancelling game shows, talent contests, soaps, imported cartoons, and the playing of music recorded since the Beatles first topped the charts in 1963.

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