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June 18, 2009



The BBC news website is, I should say, not only the best news website there is, but quite likely one of the best websites in the world. No wonder the free-market press wants to fuck it up.


There's a bit of a hidden agenda here as well in that the free London Lite wasn't sold to Lebedev along with the Standard. And also note that Waugh is implicitly suggesting that newspaper websites operate at the very least a complex monopoly - this "follow Rupert Murdoch's lead" is exactly the sort of thing that the Competition Commission gets excited about.


(I'll also trail a forthcoming review of "The Harder Path" by noting that for all anyone says about Sir John Birt, the BBC website is definitely his legacy - firstly it's built with money that he saved from the 1990s downsizing, and second he was an early and large-scale adopter. Although there are lots and lots of grounds for criticising Birtism, it ought to be recognised that there was basically one very big decision for a media executive to make in the 1990s and Birt got it right)

john b

...and I note with glee that Murdoch got it exactly, 100% wrong. Although he did make the right one-very-big-decision in the 1980s, which perhaps gives him a victory on points.


Incidentally, and I believe there's a still-running Crooked Timber thread on related issues, the internet public appears to expect content, in this day and age, to be free, almost regardless of what it is. This cuts both ways here (if you want everything to be paid for by advertising instead, it's not a great argument for the licence fee) but still, if usage of a site is substantial enough, which in this instance it is, then you'd hope people might be able to get their heads in the right position on this one.


And, of course, if you set that as a precedent, the next stage is "if we were prepared to shut down bbc.co.uk because it was an unfair competitor to newspapers' websites, shouldn't we shut down BBC TV because it's an unfair competitor to ITV and Sky?"

Richard J

I'm mildly surprised D^2 hasn't used the phrase 'talking his book up' yet, to be honest.


John Whittingdale MP used to go on about news.bbc.co.uk being evil when he was on the CMS select committee. It's a Maplin Sands phenomenon - floating about in the Tory id long after the argument it was originally cooked up to help in has been forgotten.

(Of course, it's wank; there have been freebie newspapers for ever, and there are still newspapers. Similarly, the existence of free-to-air TV did not prevent the emergence of Sky or the cable world.)

It's also bizarre that they wank about the World Service and hate the web site; but then, that is just another example of how technological senescence is a marker of social class in the UK.

Meanwhile, Digital Britain report. Boy, what a wet fart that is!


That's part of what should cause concern in a way: all anybody seems to want to talk about is the BBC, despite it not having very much to do with that. It's a sort of template for predatory instincts and senior management enrichment schemes.


"senior management enrichment"... you mean they could Qinetiq it?

Richard J

I suspect that, thanks to 30 minutes work 8 years ago, I'm bound by the OSA on that comment, ajay...


I fixed a leading Qinetiq manager's ADSL for him a couple of years back - does that mean I'm now an Official Secret? *puzzled*

Actually, I should have just billed them for services and retired on the proceeds, shouldn't I?

BTW Mr. Waugh has linked to this article, if you want to carry on the debate.


That's very good of him, though I'm not getting any traffic from that source. Hello London.

Steve Atone

The bizarre thing about British broadcasting at the moment is that everything but the BBC has a model that doesn't work, but the only solution that anyone in those other broadcasters has is to alter the way the BBC does business so it's more like them.

Sentanta didn't collapse because of competition from the BBC. ITV isn't a load of embarrassing rubbish because the BBC isn't. Channel Four is crap because they hired Noel Edmonds, not because the BBC didn't.

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