Breaking Bad BBC – Taking the Corporatism out of the Corporation

English: James Murdoch, who is the son of Rupe...

English: James Murdoch, who is the son of Rupert Murdoch, speaking at Verge, the digital media event co-managed by Ogilvy and Unilever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crossposting this from Byline as the problems of the BBC are in some way related to the monopoly issues in the rest of the media….

During the phone hacking scandal that erupted in the summer of 2011, prompting Rupert and James Murdoch to close the News of the World and abandon their bid for the remaining shares of BSkyB, it rapidly became apparent that the political ramifications were more to do with over-concentrated ownership than press regulation. Owning then nearly 40% of the press, and on the verge of taking over Britain’s biggest broadcaster in terms of revenues, Rupert Murdoch was more powerful in media terms than Berlusconi (and the Italian media mogul is at least a citizen of the country he dominates). It was a glaring example of market failure and what Adam Smith calls the ‘special problem’ of monopoly.

Yet, whenever I point this problem out to defenders of News Corp, such as Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, they come back with the same quick rejoinder: “the BBC is a monopoly too! And one you are forced to pay for…”

Many defenders of the BBC are stymied by this Tu Quoque argument. The BBC certainly isn’t a commercial monopoly, and is rapidly being outstripped by other global players. But there is an element of truth in this accusation. One reason I felt confident to cover the hacking scandal and aftermath (The Fall of the House of Murdoch, Unbound, 2012; Beyond Contempt, Canbury Press, 2014) is because whenever anyone reiterated “what about the BBC?” I could prove that I had already inveighed – at some cost to my job as a TV dramatist – against the monopolistic stranglehold that the BBC held over drama.

“Something was rotten in the state of domestic TV, and I argued it began with the market leaders, the BBC, who had instituted the most top down and centralised commissioning system possible…”

Something was rotten in the state of domestic TV, and I argued it began with the market leaders, the BBC, who had instituted the most top down and centralised commissioning system possible,Something was rotten in the state of domestic TV, and I argued it began with the market leaders, the BBC, who had instituted the most top down and centralised commissioning system possible,

In what must be considered one of the longest career suicide notes in history, my 2009 piece for Prospect Magazine, Why Britain can’t do The Wire, went viral and was reported in the Guardian. The thesis was simple: the relative standards of UK TV drama had dropped catastrophically compared to the US. This wasn’t for lack of talent as the number of British actors, writers and directors in US drama proved (and still proves). Something was rotten in the state of domestic TV, and I argued it began with the market leaders, the BBC, who had instituted the most top down and centralised commissioning system possible, predicated on one or two people deciding most of the nation’s dramatic output. This, rather than a shortage of supply or demand, led to the disempowerment of writers and creators, and Britain losing its former role as an enviable centre of dramatic and directorial innovation….

via Breaking Bad BBC – Taking the Corporatism out of the Corporation.

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