The BBC's virtual monopoly must end (must it?)
January 6, 2003 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Is the BBCi website far too big and monopolistic? Editorial from 'The Guardian' discussing whether the BBC's website, funded by the British license fee is taking the thunder away from commercial websites worldwide trying to achieve the same results in advertising run market place. There is some logic to the argument -- when e-marketing revenues are dwingling how can some sites compete with this bohemoth? On the other hand, if they were achieving the same results people would be going to them instead, and the BBC's website is very, very good in some places, indispensible in others.
posted by feelinglistless (23 comments total)
Wasn't sure if I should link. But here is the BBC website.
posted by feelinglistless at 1:52 PM on January 6, 2003

I don't think we have a duty to support the "free market" in all cases.

An unbiased source of news is a public good and a cornerstone of free society. I am perfectly happy allowing a public entity to exist here if it is doing a good job, which I think the BBC is.

The benefit to the people in having a resource like the BBC available outweighs the problems of lesser news organizations that have trouble competing.

It's like the post office. The public good is served by not forcing people to ship letters at $8 a pop with FedEx.
posted by hipnerd at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2003

what an odd article - like someone's taken a rant from the economist and deleted the facts. which parts of the website aren't related to news, or the bbc's programs? the article says that much could be deleted with only a couple of people knowing - any idea what? sounds like the author of that article wasn't one of them. also, is all the content generated in-house? the author claims so (if i understand the last section), but gives no evidence...

i'm not saying it's wrong - it's just that without examples it's hard to judge. and is the guardian trying to be more market aware?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:14 PM on January 6, 2003

No way. The BBC website is the only reason that I haven't been driven to firebombing the TV Licensing scumbags for pestering our house for five years with threatening and occasionally downright rude letters (we are, incidentally, totally above board and have offered on numerous occasions to demonstrate so - but they're having none of it.)

But ranting aside, it's comprehensive, well-designed, and perhaps most importantly I can feel [relatively] safe that opinions and political viewpoints aren't being sold along with the advertising, as is always my fear with the aforementioned "commercial websites". BBC News is the first place I visit in the morning after MeFi and the Guardian, and as an authoritative, reliable news source I haven't found better. I could care less if other websites don't like having good competition - the gauntlet is duly thrown down for them to do better and push the envelope a little. After all, if all they provide is a popup-laden portal that imitates the Beeb site (and does so poorly) surely they should improve their content instead of complaining that they're being shown up.
posted by zygoticmynci at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2003

This is a similar argument to the one that comes up every once in a while here in Canada saying that the CBC should show sports because it makes it hard for the private broadcasters to compete. The reality of it is that if they did as good a job as the CBC does with Hockey Night in Canada or its olympic coverage they wouldn't be having such a supposed hard time.

On the other hand, does the TV licence fee law mention anything about the internet? If not they may have a case that it's money misspent under current law, though my answer to that would be to have the law changed.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:23 PM on January 6, 2003

But, the BBC is just so good.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:26 PM on January 6, 2003

I think the BBC is one of the most impressive sites--with regard to usability and volume, content-size, and a whole lotta other ways, too. I'm always impressed at how creative and navigable it is, especially for a government-run site. Keep up the good work, I say.
posted by gramcracker at 2:32 PM on January 6, 2003

So, lemme get this right:
back when there was only 1 tv network in the UK, we had to legislate to create a commercial channel (ie, regional ITV). Now, when the commercial channels (this time, mega-corps with internet presences) dislike that the Beeb does such a good job, in a new market, they want to legislate Auntie away?

Waaah! Waah! (baby guardian cries).

Now, if we can find a way to get those pesky furr'ners to support BBCi, that's OK...
posted by dash_slot- at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2003

Wait... I thought the private sector could do everything better?
posted by drezdn at 2:50 PM on January 6, 2003

They can take my when they pry my cold dead fingers from my keyboard. It's the first place I go for news.
posted by trox at 2:50 PM on January 6, 2003

I will boycott anybody who lobbies to take radio 1 archives away from me!
posted by hammurderer at 2:54 PM on January 6, 2003

If the BBC was created to make a channel where private business couldn't then it should have been canned when private business could.

If the BBC was free public news, as it seems to be, then I don't see what they're complaining about.
posted by holloway at 3:03 PM on January 6, 2003

Ad-supported sites are dying because the ad-supported model doesn't work very well online (yet?), and everyone knows that now. I don't see how that is BBC's problem.
posted by Nothing at 4:04 PM on January 6, 2003

Buncha whiners.
posted by blissbat at 4:09 PM on January 6, 2003

And of course you can be quite sure that this editorial is based on an unbiased analysis of the communications market, and wasn't dictated by the Guardian's owners or anything.

"... the BBC ... has been unfairly taking traffic away from commercial sites."

Yes, they unfairly steal traffic away! Isn't it terrible how the BBC forcibly coerces users to go to their site against their will. It's nothing at all to do with the BBC being an island of quality in a ocean of shite.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:21 PM on January 6, 2003

As an American, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the UK for the BBC.

You guys rock.
posted by moonbiter at 8:41 PM on January 6, 2003

everything they do kicks, except canceling Solid Steel.
posted by iamck at 10:27 PM on January 6, 2003

The BBC didn't cancel Solid Steel - that was Ninja Tune. All of their nights come to a natural end eventually.

(I was at the final Solid Steel night with the Cinematic Orchestra. It rocked.)
posted by influx at 2:11 AM on January 7, 2003

You can't use the word monopoly when you're discussing a medium that gives equal access to all products. The BBC can't use aggressive tactics to force the competition out of business - unless being better is aggressive.

I sometimes wonder what British TV would be like without the BBC. Despite its faults (if I see another blatantly money making phone-in-poll show I'm taking an axe to the TV) there's still an attitude that TV is supposed to serve the people, not make a living from them. I doubt that would be the case without the BBC.
posted by Summer at 2:34 AM on January 7, 2003

I sometimes wonder what British TV would be like without the BBC.

That would be 2 extra ITV channels. I wonder if someone actually watches ITV 1?
posted by sebas at 4:05 AM on January 7, 2003

I did a work experience at Radio1 Online in Nov.
It was the most fun Ive had working...ever!
I even designed some logos for 1xtra that they actually use!
posted by bhell13 at 8:42 AM on January 7, 2003

The BBC can't use aggressive tactics to force the competition out of business - unless being better is aggressive.
posted by holloway at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2003

The BBC did cancel the solid steel radio show on BBC London. It's a separate entity from the club night of the same name.

I like the BBC a lot and fully support the way it operates and think is a terrific site. However even I have doubts about some of what they do on it. No problem with BBC News or the sites that support the different services, but Cinema listings or their music guide or some of the lifestyle content like their Teenage magazine? These don't seem to offer enough that is distinctive about them compared to what is available elsewhere on the web and seem to be more of a case of wanting to ensure that every possible thing that could be covered is covered.
posted by kerplunk at 6:52 AM on January 8, 2003

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