In followup discussions and interviews about the BBC’s bold plans to reinvent itself, the one question I keep getting asked that I didn’t address in my post is:
What is the proper role for the BBC as a tax-supported public trust? Should it compete with commercial ventures online? That is what Rupert Murdoch has been asking (read: complaining about). I have two answers:
First, I think it would be foolhardy for the industry to try to throttle development and innovation at the BBC. Because of its position and generous tax funding, it’s true that the BBC can afford to do what other companies cannot. But that is also a reason to let them, to see what they develop and to copy the successes and avoid the failures. It is open-source product development for media — and media need it. I’d say that’s one way to put tax
dollars pounds stirling to work for you. And trying to kill the BBC by stopping it from experimenting and growing is a horrid waste of those tax monies.
Second, I think the BBC should have a different relationship with the media outlets formerly known as its competitors: The BBC should be linking to and promoting the best not just from the BCC and now from citizens’ media but also from other media. Why shouldn’t the BBC, as a public trust, point to and thus send traffic to and help support and encourage the best from Sky or the Guardian or Washington Post? That, I believe, will be the role of the new network. More on that later.
: BTW, I should add that I don’t support the notion of tax-supported and thus government-certified news. I think it’s quite dangerous. But given the BBC’s position, I’d say if it really wants to reinvent itself, it should reinvent its role in media and its notion of the network.