Let’s go Auntie-bashing!

Let’s say there’s a virtually unregulated business, open to all comers in the

private sector, in which a state-owned company, which receives subsidies from

the state, competes. We all know that state-owned companies are pretty inefficient,

so the private sector is likely to enter the competitive fray anyway. But once

it does, it’s a bit rich to then start complaining about how unfair it is that

the private sector has to compete with that state-owned operator.

But complain the private sector does, at

great length, especially when the British parliament is about to decide

on the rate of increase of the BBC license fee. If you want to see every "whingeing

Pom" stereotype confirmed, just read that article. Look what you find:

The BBC is experimenting with ultra-local TV reports, where areas with a population

of about 1 million get a 10-minute news report each day. Apparently, if this

takes off, then local radio stations and local newspapers will go bust, and

it will all be the fault of the BBC.

The BBC is working on its website. This could kill the internet, at least according

to Jon Gisby, media vice-president for Yahoo Europe, who says:

If implemented, the BBC’s proposals could have a big impact on products

that are already commercially available and could stifle innovation and prevent

new business models and partnerships emerging in an increasingly global market.

And the list goes on. Condé Nast complains about the BBC’s magazines.

Commercial radio stations complain about BBC radio. Music labels complain about

the BBC offering music on the BBC website. And Philippe Cayla, the chairman

of commercial TV operation Euro News, complains about BBC World:

Our view is that the BBC would do better for its licence-fee payers if it

went into partnership with Euro News rather than tried to develop BBC World

any further, especially in Europe. It would be far cheaper, and would avoid

unnecessary competition.

Ah yes. Competition is a bad thing, and should be allowed only if strictly

necessary. So remind me why Euro News is allowed to operate again?

The BBC is one of the things that Britain does really well, and its website,

in particular, is excellent. If the BBC owns an orchestra – in fact it

owns quite a few – then it makes all the sense in the world to promote

classical music by offering free downloads now and then. This is good

for the classical music industry. But of course one shouldn’t take anything

in the article at face value, since it appears in a Murdoch paper, and Rupert

Murdoch, the owner of BSkyB, is the BBC’s biggest competitor. All’s fair in

media and competition, I guess.

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