Murdoch's rivals need concrete proposals: comment
Wednesday 11 December 1996
Today brings another flurry of submissions to the interminable consultation process on these issues. Despite the fact that any question of forcing Mr Murdoch to license his technology to rivals has already been ruled out, no one seems to have altered their position very much. ITV still insists that broadcasters must be allowed to distribute their own smart cards and manage their own subscribers; Mr Murdoch's technology should be made to accommodate these needs, ITV says. The BBC goes further; what it wants is a "dual standard box" with its own slot for BBC smart cards and its own chip for BBC interactive services. Quite what the difference is between this position and the one the Government has already ruled out is anyone's guess.
The man charged with steering a course through this minefield is Don Cruickshank, director general of Oftel. The idea is that he should regulate conditional access for digital pay-TV in much the same way as he does now for the telecoms industry, where part of his job is to ensure that rival telecoms companies get access to BT's network on fair, non-discriminatory and equal terms. That's what the Government wants to do with the Murdoch digital pay-TV system. When you think about it, this in itself is quite a concession to rival broadcasters, for Mr Murdoch developed the technology for his own digital needs, not for the greater good of others.
The big question is whether Mr Cruickshank is up to the job, for this is no public service telephone company he's dealing with here. Mr Murdoch is one of the most aggressively commercial media players in the world and he will use every tool available to him to ensure his present monopoly of analogue pay-TV is duplicated in the digital world. Mr Cruickshank's unenviable task is to ensure he doesn't.
To stand any chance of making a reasonable fist of it, however, he first needs to know what rival broadcasters want to do. Other than stamp their feet and chant "down with Mr Murdoch" there's not much evidence of them doing anything. Oh, everyone's got a strategy, no doubt about that, but where are the advanced business plans? Rival broadcasters should stop whinging about the terms of conditional access and put forward some concrete proposals for utilising it. Only then will some progress perhaps be made.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...