Cloud cuckoo band? 

4 July 2006

BBC risks rivals’ ire with fantasy radio

MyBBCRadio is precisely the sort of technology-led innovation that the BBC has the capability to do extremely well and will be totally different to what the UK commercial radio sector has to offer at this point of time, or anything like what the traditional commercial radio sector is publically thinking of doing at the moment.

But even the fact that the BBC is being innovative is very likely to upset the traditional radio sector, even though they are too busy worrying about their ratings decline to even think of launching anything similar, and if the BBC hadn’t thought of the idea they might just get round to following suit after some other commercial competitor launches something similar.

Therefore it is a golden opportunity for the BBC to establish such a service before any accusations of copying can be made, and that’s presumably the intention behind the Radio Festival announcement. And the BBC definitely needs such a service in order to remain relevant to licence fee payers in the 21st century as technology progresses at breakneck speed.

Mark Thompson says that the BBC wants to work with the commercial sector to grow overall radio listening, but at this point in time it’s unlikely that said commercial sector would want to cooperate with such a proposal unless they are extremely desperate. And despite the collective moaning of its members, we’re not quite at that stage yet.

If I was a commercial radio station I would be even more worried about the prospect of News Corp. later launching something along the lines of a MySpaceRadio for the UK, probably together with a claim that it thought of the idea before the BBC did, therefore the Government should force the BBC to abandon its MyBBCRadio project immediately. Or something.

Therefore it is in the interest of the BBC to launch MyBBCRadio (or whatever) as soon as possible before the commercial competition somehow manages to argue that launching a service that’s possibly crucial to the BBC’s long term relevance goes beyond the BBC’s basic remit. (According to their somewhat narrow definition of ‘basic remit’.)

Everyone really ought to remember that the BBC is a public service that has an obligation to inform, educate and entertain everyone, therefore it isn’t doing its job if it is either no longer relevant to current trends or no longer ‘popular’. That is the basic truth which the commercial radio sector has grown up with, and it has to live with this fact.

As for the UK commercial radio sector in general, it’s interesting to note that in the past much of BBC local radio has gone out of its way not to directly compete with their commercial counterparts.

So we can assume that if certain local commercial radio stations stopped pretending to be national commercial radio stations being hammered by the likes of Radio 1 and 2 (which were established as popular national music stations before any other UK commercial stations were licenced), they should effectively have less to complain about.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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David Hastings Contact More by me