Tim Luckhurst: BBC must realise that competitors are not enemies

Share
Related Topics

Sir Michael Lyons's letter to BBC licence fee payers reveals deplorable thinking in a corporation that is determined to have its cake and eat it. Encouraged by a survey that reveals the obvious, i.e. that Britons are proud of the BBC, he presents an argument so self-interested it appears cynical.

He says the BBC has a duty to support rivals, but insists it can do this only by working with them. He is wrong. Britain's commercial media companies serve democracy because they are independent and diverse. Making them depend on the BBC will erode their value as competitors.

So, his hostility to top-slicing the licence fee to help fund independent television news is misguided. But his attitude does not threaten broadcasters alone. He reveals a BBC also complacent about the harm it is inflicting upon newspapers.

They are battling to earn enough online revenue to pay for quality reporting. But the obvious solution, ending the pretence that journalism is free, is stymied by the BBC's vast online presence. Readers resist paying for news when they have already paid for it on the BBC.

Sir Michael has heard pleas for limits on the BBC's power as a market-distorter from sources including James Murdoch and The Guardian but he has not listened.

The BBC's competitors are not its enemies. They admire the corporation as much as most licence payers. But they are not prepared to remain silent while it forces them into oblivion. By competing aggressively in every media sector it has grown to a scale that is threatening, not enabling.

The BBC exists to serve us by enhancing British media. It has performed that role with aplomb for more than 80 years. Now the advent of digital technology has changed the media landscape utterly and it must recognise that it is in danger of vandalising opponents it should cherish.

This letter offers one ray of hope. By instructing the director general to investigate whether the corporation is "the right size and is operating within the right boundaries," Sir Michael leaves open the possibility that it is not. To independent observers the answer is plain. We must hope that Mark Thompson understands the value of diversity better than his boss.

Tim Luckhurst is Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A banner supporting the NO vote in the upcoming referendum hangs from the offices of the Greek Finance Ministry on Wednesday  

Greece crisis: The Troika’s inflexibility on austerity amounts to nothing short of an attempted coup

Caroline Lucas
Chancellor George Osborne will present his post-election budget on 8th July (Getty)  

Osborne’s Budget will touch on social reform – but he’s no Lloyd George

Donald Macintyre
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy