Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Emily Bell wants a conversation about the BBC

Emily Bell wants to "start a conversation" about the BBC and how to solve the problems of other media.

This is perhaps an over-dramatic response from a direct competitor. For, although small, the nature of the Guardian's business is the same as the BBC's, thanks to convergence. Indeed, Paul Myners, who chairs the Guardian's parent company board, complained to the House of Lords select committee last week that the BBC carrying advertising in overseas territories on its website might pose a significant business problem for us.

The decline in newspapers' readership has been as inexorable as the erosion of the Antarctic ice shelf, and a bit more glare will see the titles topple at penguin-killing speed. The internet has thrown some of these businesses a bit of a lifeline, but, here again, the BBC has the funds and the history and the distribution to always be ahead.

You know what? I think the transition for news organisations from paper to the Web is a larger problem than can be solved just by raiding the BBC resources. The Adobe webcast tomorrow is likely to be a significant event in the move to web video. Newspapers would do well to think about their own direction.

To be fair, towards the end of the comment Emily Bell considers whether the BBC should include advertising for other media, not just hand over cash for the Channel 4 salaries. This seems much more sensible. There is only one global brand based in the UK, the BBC.