BBC to review whether it should become smaller
Wednesday 09 September 2009
Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, is to oversee a "thorough review" into whether the corporation is "the right size" and what areas it should concentrate its resources on in future.
This review, outlined in an open letter to licence payers by the BBC Trust chariman Sir Michael Lyons today, is clearly an acknowledgement of the concerns across commercial media that the BBC has become too big.
The pain of privately-run media has become increasingly acute as the advertising downturn has forced down profits and led to extensive job cuts. This week the commercial radio sector has complained about Radio 2 and Radio 1 "squeezing" the market and reducing access to the key 25-45 demographic demanded by advertisers.
The replacement of Terry Wogan by Chris Evans is seen as part of that.
At the same time print based media is worried that the strength of bbc.co.uk makes it almsot impossible to monetise the online content of magazine and newspaper businesses.
At the Edinburgh Television Festival at the end of last month, News Corp's James Murdoch described the BBC's ambitions as "chilling". The review of the BBC's scale, to be conducted by Thompson, was agreed by the corporation's executive and the BBC Trust, the governing body, back in June, so well ahead of the Murdoch attack.
Nonetheless it is a sign that the BBC is starting to acknowledge that the growth across multiple media platforms of a publicly-funded organisation may not be the good thing that licence fee payers might at first assume.
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