Round two 

25 April 2008 tbs.pm/888

Murdoch attacks BBC over iPlayer

We’ve already had Peter Bazalgette attack the BBC’s public service dominance in a speech this week, so I suppose it just had to be the case that one of the Murdoch boys (in this case, James) should want to “have a go” (so to speak) as well.

Sometimes you get the impression that James (and Rupert) Murdoch would still be upset with the BBC if they still only offered one channel of 405-line television from Alexandra Palace, and there’s the danger that people won’t treat them seriously since they are now starting to sound like a stuck record on this issue.

But what does he exactly mean when claiming that the BBC’s iPlayer is “squashed other competitors”? There’s Apple’s iTunes, YouTube and BitTorrent downloads together with games consoles now also offering (or are about to offer) movie downloads that provide far more than just BBC content, so there must be another reason for this statement.

All things considered, it’s probably the fact that the iPlayer has successfully promoted the concept of obtaining TV content online as opposed via to the traditional broadcast medium to the mass market before the Murdoch clan has prepared a proper response to this long term threat to their lucrative subscription model.

The fact that BSkyB in the UK doesn’t offer that much in original content beyond live events, movies and US imports is probably a key point to consider; these three things can potentially be offered by their original content providers online as opposed to via satellite TV and the traditional BSkyB subscription model.

You don’t have to have a Sky subscription anymore to watch a movie with the advent of iTunes, and it’s only a matter of time before the majority of sporting events can be easily viewed online via some means. And as for Sky One, there’s only Gladiators and a forthcoming attempt at a Blake’s 7 revival that are currently headline news.

Take all these things into consideration and BSkyB is now starting to look vulnerable in the longer term. And the successful launch of iPlayer – with Project Kangeroo soon to follow – has just made that time draw even closer.

No wonder James Murdoch is sounding worried.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Wednesday 19 January 2022