Thursday, July 16, 2015


John Whittingdale said it himself - there is evidence that the BBC drives up standards in the wider UK media landscape, but concerns that it has adverse impacts on commercial competitors.

So, in the Green Paper, setting out the arguments, the section on "Market Impacts" presents two - yes two positives, and five negatives. And the document is littered with "concerns" that are evidence-light.   George Osborne, The Radio Centre, Sky and a number of newspapers will be chuffed.

"The BBC has 60 per cent of the revenues of the radio sector in the UK, for example, while its provision of extensive free online content risks impacting a wide range of players."

"Given the vast choice that audiences now have there is an argument that the BBC might become more focused on a narrower, core set of services that can continue to meet its mission and objectives. A smaller BBC could see the public pay less for their TV licence and would also be likely to have a reduced market impact".

"Is the expansion of the BBC’s services justified in the context of increased choice for audiences? Is the BBC crowding out commercial competition and, if so, is this justified as the number of television and radio channels grow and the internet as a platform for television and radio content matures, there are counter arguments that the BBC does not need to be providing such a broad range of services in order to meet its public service objectives."

"The content budget for Radio 6 is £8 million compared to the combined almost £87 million for the arguably less distinctive Radio 1 and 2, while the BBC Trust has found that its highest spending service BBC 1 has the lowest score for ‘fresh and new’ of its main channels."

"Questions have been raised about whether content carried on the BBC’s website is sufficiently distinctive from content that can and is being developed and delivered by others. The growth of the internet as a medium for consuming information is one of the most notable developments over the current Charter period; in this context the challenge for the BBC will be in setting itself apart from others in the online space and potentially seeking to avoid providing services such as, for example, recipes where a range of other websites already do so. "

"For radio content, the BBC’s dominant position on speech radio, taken together with the comparatively low quotas for independent production, may be constraining a small but vibrant sector, which – as the recent New York Festival’s International Radio Programme Awards has shown – delivers truly innovative content and formats."

Someone should make Whittingdale go to the New York Festival. Nearly as prestigious as The Golden Sea Swallow of Knokke TV Festival.

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