Tuesday, September 15, 2015


When someone says they're offering a clear and simple overview of a new proposal, it's possible the offer is obscure, complex - and maybe the proposal itself is unformed.

BBC Director of Digital Ralph Rivera has blogged today about the Charter offer for Auntie to become some form of content aggregator.

"Our aim would be simple – to increase the traffic to, and investment in, original British content. At its heart would be a free offer, with BBC content funded from the licence fee, and commercial content through other business models such as advertising. We would also aim to make it possible to buy and keep programmes, as we’re doing with BBC Store, due to launch soon.

"And these proposals have a clear ambition: to create a platform for Britain’s creativity, and an even better experience for UK audiences and a gateway to that world. We believe that an aggregated service would provide audiences with greater access to UK original content, which in turn would increase traffic, usage and potential revenues for everyone.

"One possible route would be to use BBC iPlayer, which we could open up and put at the service of the sector, using its brand, technology and reach. But there are other ideas too, all of which we want to discuss and agree with partners. Those conversations are just beginning, and there is a lot to work through. I hope this gives an overview and a little more context to last week’s announcement. We believe the time is right for this idea – in fact, this may be the best moment we have to make this work – and I’m excited about the possibilities."

Aggregators in general make their money by providing links to other people's content or services, often taking a slice from both customer (by advertising or subscription) and provider (fees to be on the platform). Existing content and service aggregators include operations like  iTunes, Funny or Die, Uber, Huffington Post and Google News. There's no sign of market failure here, or rationale for using the licence fee to fund such an operation.

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