You can’t have it both ways 

7 April 2009

Media companies back MPs on BBC Worldwide curbs

Well of course other commercial media companies would back calls for BBC Worldwide’s commercial activities to be reined in, since to claim anything else would be akin to turkeys voting for Christmas. And they’re not going to do that, are they?

The recession has now shone an uncomfortable spotlight onto the activities of BBC Worldwide, but it isn’t the corporation’s fault that some bankers screwed up the world economy. Likewise the corporation isn’t to blame for websites generally draining ad revenue from the the rest of the commercial media sector.

What is now really needed is some clear and decisively unilateral thinking on exactly how the BBC is funded in terms of both directly from the licence fee and indirectly from programme sales and BBC Worldwide’s other commercial activities, instead of this confusing and unhelpful ideological conflict that does nobody any favours whatsoever.

Plus of course the Channel 4 question also needs to be answered at the same time, but my opinion is that financial support from BBC Worldwide may be heavily restricted or nonexistent, and if Worldwide is put into handcuffs then the BBC will definitely suffer from a financial perspective if Channel 4 is then permitted to drain money from BBC Worldwide.

We have already witnessed the complete farce that was Project Kangaroo, with one set of ministers wanting to establish a ‘Broadband Britain’ with British content, whilst at the same time the Competition Commission seemed to be under the illusion that the internet stops at Dover.

Now history is threatening to repeat itself albeit in a form that will directly translate into what happens to Channel 4 as a consequence, as opposed to a proposed service not materialising in the first place (Project Kangaroo); the likes of which we will probably have to wait years to have, courtesy of short-sighted thinking at the Competition Commission.