While writing a very average essay about Public Service Broadcasting and the BBC in the digital age, I found it hard not to sympathise with commercial broadcasters. People like Murdoch believe in consumer sovereignty - what the consumer wants, the consumer gets - at a cost, obviously. Competition in  the market place ensures that the interest of the consumer is satisfied. If you don't like it, don't pay for it. This encourages broadcasters and programme makers to keep up the ratings - and the advertising revenue, of course.

But the BBC - a 'non commercial' player - completely monopolises the commercial media industry, especially online. Peter Preston former editor of the Guardian said “You can’t put BBC Online down. It’s a lush package of news and information.” There's no wonder that BBC online is Europe’s most visited Internet content site (at no cost)  receiving over 52 million page impressions each month not including its American count.

It seems unfair. And the Corporation has, had its wings clipped of late, having to pay for the World Service and a fixed licence fee for six years, but it continues to stick its chin out by not reducing its size and market impact to commercial competitors. It shouldn't even be competing where there is no market failure!

The BBC is intended to be insulated from politics which is granted its monopoly from the Charter and licensed to provide education, information and entertainment in the public interest, but it risks being a victim of its own success. Jean Seaton commented in the Guardian that the licence fee should be completely insulated from government interference “Of course the Corporation could not be isolated from the economic blizzard: but it’s the constitutional threat we should worry about. The Corporation is one of the things we collectively think with: lose it and we lose intelligence in a volatile world.”
And this brings me to the point. Rebecca Mackinnon writes in an article for CNN about Amazon's shutting down of Wikileaks and the threat to democracy and freedom of speech. Read it! It rang home the importance of the BBC as a public service broadcaster in the digital sphere, completely independent from commercial interests and political interference.


"It’s the constitutional threat we should worry about"