Between the Lines: Is the BBC's remit too wide?

The BBC has demonstrated a consistent ability to annoy commercial broadcasters by stretching the boundaries of its remit. Its launch of a handful of digital children's channels, then niche digital radio channels, coupled with its tireless cross-promotion of services, particularly served to irritate its rivals.

The Government's White Paper, announced this week, will hardly serve to allay the fears of many commercial media owners (page 2). Instead of Ofcom taking responsibility for keeping the BBC on the straight and narrow, we have the regulator assessing new services before a final decision is taken by the BBC Trust, which will replace the BBC board of governors.

Understandably, commercial rivals are sceptical that this body will be capable of impartial decision-making and, in some cases, feel that the definition of the BBC's remit remains too broad.

More fundamentally, it seems staggering there will be no change to the licence fee model before 2016, by which time the pace of change will have altered the broadcast landscape beyond recognition.

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