MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - Is Dyke looking to get the BBC out of the public sector?

Under the leadership of the director-general, Greg Dyke, the BBC seems to be dancing on and over the increasingly blurred line which separates its behaviour as a public sector broadcaster from the commercial TV world. In the past couple of weeks three stories have broken which lead one to feel that the BBC is becoming a very different animal under Dyke.

Under the leadership of the director-general, Greg Dyke, the BBC

seems to be dancing on and over the increasingly blurred line which

separates its behaviour as a public sector broadcaster from the

commercial TV world. In the past couple of weeks three stories have

broken which lead one to feel that the BBC is becoming a very different

animal under Dyke.



First, there was the admission that the BBC is looking at moving its

news bulletin from 9pm to 10pm to take advantage of the slot vacated

last year by ITV. The BBC is considering the 10pm slot because it feels

it would allow greater flexibility with its peaktime schedule as well an

opportunity to pull in more viewers for its news.



We then heard that Dyke was looking to introduce a fourth episode of

EastEnders. This prompted the IPA to issue a public statement which

accused the BBC of abandoning its public service role in favour of an

aggressive and costly ratings battle. Shifting the news out of primetime

could be seen as a shift away from the BBC’s commitment to current

affairs while an extra episode of EastEnders is not a strong argument

for introducing greater choice.



Finally, last week’s nationals were buzzing with the news that the BBC

had signed up the media company Worldpop, founded by the former Radio 1

DJ Peter Powell, to sponsor Top of the Pops and Radio 1’s Top 40

show.



The three-year deal will see the programmes credit Worldpop, although

they cannot feature any corporate logo.



There are two sides of the coin to this deal. On the one hand, if the

BBC opens up sponsorship opportunities advertisers will have a wealth of

opportunity with its rich line-up of programmes - think of The Royle

Family and its pull for the likes of Tetley Tea or PG Tips. On the other

hand, the prospect of the BBC competing with ITV would make the latter

feel more than a little unhappy and cheated. And how commercial can the

public service side of the BBC be before it makes a mockery of its

privileged position?



The BBC is clearly concerned about the gradual draining away of public

funding as it grapples with digital television and the increasingly

aggressive broadcast market.



The radical restructuring and streamlining that is under way, with the

role of marketing finally gaining a seat on the BBC board, indicates

that we are to see a much leaner, meaner organisation which will do

whatever it takes to maximise its revenue opportunities and boost its

dwindling coffers.



It was recently reported that Dyke brought up the question himself about

whether the BBC should be changing the tide of its hallowed

position.



He said: ’Should the BBC be involved in the commercial world at all? I

personally think it would be a grave mistake if we ignored the

commercial world and ignored the potential for generating more

money.’



You have been warned.



anna.griffiths@haynet.com



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