Terrible news! According to Mark Thompson, the BBC’s appalling 3% license fee rise will lead to an abandonment of reality TV and cheap imports and an increase of quality output (in an article in the print edition of the Guardian that doesn’t appear to be online).
Apparently, “big pieces” such as the excellent Planet Earth “will have to get bigger.” Meanwhile, “factories of creative excellence” such as the team behind Doctor Who, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures will have to be encouraged more. Disaster!
For the record, I don’t full endorse the government’s hard stance against the BBC. I certainly don’t agree that the license fee should be used to pay for the digital switchover, which fundamentally misunderstands the whole argument for a license fee in the first place (even if we put aside the argument over whether we should have one at all aside for one moment). But this reaction simply affirms what some of us have been saying all along: most quality TV is commercial, and the dominance of the Beeb in the market distorts it, in the same way that the CAP distorts the global agribusiness. There is a place for the Beeb and public subsidy of the media, but that place is not attempting to be all things to all people.