BBC: It’s back to the old “stifling innovation” debate…(yawn)

In an interview with Media Guardian, Time Out publisher Tony Elliott criticises the role of BBC Worldwide. (Tony Elliott: Calling time out on the BBC).Yes, it's back to that decades old "BBC stifles commercial innovation" argument.

Random quote:

…..he now finds himself at war with a corporation he believes has
stepped well beyond its boundaries with the £75m acquisition of the
rival travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. It's a fight that broke out
spectacularly at last week's Edinburgh TV festival, where Elliott
called publicly for the broadcaster's commercial arm BBC Worldwide to
be broken up and sold….

"The Lonely Planet thing
has clearly triggered a lot of people thinking 'What the fuck is going
on at BBC Worldwide?' and they have started asking questions," says the
61-year-old publisher, seated in his office at the heart of Time Out's
headquarters on Tottenham Court Road."

In the same issue, we get a supportive op from The Guardian – (The BBC has created a Worldwide cause for concern by Jane Martinson).

She writes:

"There are some who will argue that the Guardian – largely because of
its position online and with audio content – speaks as a competitor.
(YES, many of us do think that!!!)

Martinson continues..
But that argument could wipe out all debate in the British media. (Fear not Jane, if ever The Guardian stopped feeding this debate, Murdoch's papers would continue the good fight).

A few random points

1) The "BBC stifles innovation" argument is years old. Elliott is nuts if he thinks this debate just kicked-off when Worldwide got its hands on Lonely Planet. British web publishers, newspapers and commercial radio stations have been moaning about this for decades.

2) Why has the BBC gone "well beyond its boundaries"? Is this The Guardian editorializing? Will Lonely Planet get a load of free promotion on the BBC? I doubt it, not any more. Top of the Pops magazine got its advert after the show every week. Was this fair? Probably not. Although whilst TOTP TV show is long dead, the magazine continues to thrive. Who said it wouldn't survive on its own without BBC promotion?

3) BBC Worldwide has created successful magazines NOT based around TV formats and without on-air promotion.

4) BBC Worldwide saves us license-fee payers money. Profits from those sales of The Office on DVD and Radio Times gets pumped back into making TV shows.

5) Why should a commercial rival dictate to Worldwide what it can or cannot acquire? Should Worldwide be compelled to close TOTP magazine just so I can re-launch Smash Hits and appoint Neil Tennant to make the tea ( come to think of it, that sounds like a good idea – I'll put Five Star back on the cover where they belong!)

Overall, I have a lot of time for Time Out and its attempts to remain 'independent'.

(I am not quite sure what that means, although if its journalists don't take freebies and write what they like, then that sounds good to me).

But attempting to get the BBC to sell-off Worldwide, ditch its much-loved magazines and  its travel guides won't solve TO's  funding problems. It's the Internet, STUPID!

, , ,

Comments are closed.