Between the Lines: BBC measures not enough

Wading through Mark Thompson's protectionist manifesto, issued this week as part of the BBC's attempts to re-secure the licence fee, there is not much cheer for the commercial sector. Thompson stopped short of a sale of BBC Worldwide, and, indeed, is aiming to double its profits to £200 million (page 4).

Advertisers and agencies have long argued that the BBC abuses its public-service position by also competing in the commercial sector and using its PSB assets to promote commercial ones. Now, finally, it has agreed to end such on-air promotions and will sell those titles, such as Eve, that have no obvious programming link.

Magazines such as Top Gear and Radio Times, however, will remain in the fold on the slimmest of justifications: that they are borne out of BBC programming material. Yet it is unarguable these titles battle for ad revenue with other titles with no such TV support. Thompson has made the barest of concessions to mollify the critics; he has not gone far enough.