Feeds

Nathan Barleys mourn Great Lost Quango

Ofcom abandons PSP

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Soho's Nathan Barleys were in mourning yesterday after Ofcom chief Ed Richards abandoned his shape-shifting flagship, the "Public Service Publisher" quango.

Richards said in a speech to the Royal Television Society on Tuesday night that the "the PSP as a concept has served its purpose and we can move on to the relevant questions for today".

Translated from PR-speak, that means the game is up for the much-derided idea. (It's been called "Welfare For Wankers".) So what is the PSP and why did it create such a passionate response from Reg readers?

When the idea was first floated in 2004, it was as a TV commissioning agency for worthy "public service" programming, with a budget of about £300m a year. It was needed, Ofcom explained, "to ensure that the necessary level of competition for quality in public service broadcasting continues through the transition to digital".

The BBC helped shoot that down, but Richards couldn't let the idea drop. The PSP was revived, only this time encumbered with Web 2.0 buzzwords - and in one of the most spectacularly naff policy proposals ever made, emerged as a quango for New Media types, with an annual budget of £100m mooted.

"It's a new media answer to a new media question," is how Ofcom described it, tautologically.

The argument was that the "market" for worthy new media projects had failed, and that British internet users were too stupid to find it for themselves on Google.

A year ago, we invited readers to tell Ofcom what it thought as part of its consultation process - with hilarious results.

"As a self-actualising media node, I welcome this redistribution of government funds from provincial luddites to new media 'creative' Sohoites," wrote one reader.

"Cool Britannia lives! The creative industries initiative was good but didn't radically empower young creatives and their 360-degree thinking. Unleash the collective wisdom of new media and see us swarm!"

"Let's use those redundant factories to turn out polyphonic ringtones."

Ofcom coolly ignored the hostile responses, claiming the public supported the concept. Senior BBC web luvvie Tom Loosemore was hired to strategise on what he described as a "visionary and transformative" project.

But after MPs savaged the idea last autumn, Richards had little option but to find a graceful exit.

"Geoff Metzger, managing director of the History Channel, perhaps summed it up best when he said that the public service publisher was a 'cure with no known disease'," the Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport concluded.

Yet even then, so many of New Labour's new media types found the idea of a cash trough so irresistable, that the corpse of the PSP was still being given electric shocks.

"To really move on, the creative industries need to get past special pleading and on to a sound intellectual basis regarding the encouragement of, and support, for risk and how to measure results," pleaded Lord Lilley of Webquango, one of the authors of the P2P 2.0 proposal, in The Guardian.

Having staked so much of his personal capital on the project, Richards now calls it a "rock thrown into a pool".

We're in mourning, too.

Trashbat.R.Eg - an exciting and innovative project harnessing the Wisdom of the Crowd (MMS and Twitter feeds) - and taxpayers money - to create an interactive Sadville avatar of Paris Hilton miming our semiconductor stories - will now never see the light of day.

So thanks for nothing, you cynical swines. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.