BBC Challenges to its future
Edinburgh International TV Festival
James Murdoch's speech in Edinburgh raised a list of objections to the way the the BBC is currently run and financed. UK political think tanks have also been expressing opinions on the same topic. Suggesting that the financial problems of commercial TV are caused by an over dominant state controlled BBC and Ofcom.
"It is not a coincidence that Google has a higher percentage of advertising spending in the UK than anywhere else in the world: it is a consequence of a tightly restricted commercial television sector." James Murdoch (JM)
Ofcom generates a bureaucratic nightmare of lengthy reports on what he considers minor distractions from his desire to pursue profits.
"the UK and EU regulatory system also tightly controls advertising: the amount of advertising per hour, the availability of product placement, the distinction between advertising and editorial and so forth." JM
I believe it is very important to distinguish between advertising and the programme, what are facts and what are editorial. There may be a place for programming subsidised by product placement – but it will be a poor substitute for “clean” broadcasting. The Simpsons on the BBC was an entertaining cartoon, on commercial TV its flow and humour was wrecked by advertising breaks.
"Rather than concentrating on areas where the market is not delivering, the BBC seeks to compete head-on for audiences with commercial providers "JM
The BBC was set up to provide a wide variety of service; it should not have to drop areas of programming because commercial stations provide similar wares. I feel it is important to provide an advert free Radio 1 as a choice for the younger audience, similarly Radio 2 provides a safe commercial free world. I agree that the BBC has made mistakes with excessive salaries to the likes of Jonathan Ross – bad publicity needs to prevent further mistakes .
Demands that the BBC does not dump free news on the internet so as to prevent commercial publishers from charging. If the commercial journalism is good enough to demand a price for consumption they can try and impose charges, but news should always be available to all, the internet makes this more readily available in the world of Google.
"The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit. "JM
The full text is available on the Guardian Media Website http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Media/documents/2009/08/28/JamesMurdochMacTaggartLecture.pdf
Background history to TV in the UK
Television in the UK has traditionally been split between a public service broadcaster and commercial TV. The public service broadcasting has been provided by the British Broadcasting Corporation funded by the requirement for all owners of TV equipment to pay an annual licence fee. The BBC started off providing radio services to the UK and around the world, this was extended into TV and more recently text transmissions (CEEFAX) and internet based services. The BBC websites have provided a free news supported by its extensive world wide news gathering services, background materials related to programs have expanded into education and magazine style offerings. The ability to watch or listen to missed TV and radio programs via the BBC iplayer and podcasts has moved the corporation into a trusted position as a major internet player.
The TV licence fee is determined by negotiation between the BBC and the UK government.
Commercial TV in the UK was initially provided by the regionally based independent TV companies who generated revenue from on-screen advertising between programme segments. As cable and satellite TV arrived this challenged the advertising driven services, offering alternative subscription models. Over the past 10 years most of the commercial TV companies have merged, permitted by regulators as traditional revenues fell and costs rose.