Feeds

Earth to Ofcom: They're our airwaves. Give them back

A better Public Service Broadcasting

The essential guide to IT transformation

There's nowt on TV

A few years ago, as now, Ofcom saw how funding for high quality "public service" programming as we know it would dry up. It came up with a very good idea - a "Public Service Publisher" - which would give an additional source of funding for programme makers.

The BBC, insulted by this challenge to its monopoly, fought this concept tooth and nail, and succeeded in killing it. (The "PSP" resurfaced with a Web 2.0 flavour as the notorious "Nathan Barley Quango", that Reg readers helped shoot down last year - Thankfully, that was absent from yesterday's discussion document.)

But with the BBC dying a death of a thousand cuts - why not revive the PSP in its original form? The funding could come from... well, the BBC.

One of the most attractive ideas I've heard in years is to take the license fee and divide it up in £25,000 chunks - and give it to anyone who wanted it. The argument is: we have so many excellent TV people in the UK, quality would win out. We'd still get Top Gear, and The Archers, but imagine what else we could have, too? Once we have the spectrum back, we ought to have the programming back, too.

But as promised, we won't duck the issue that Ofcom avoided - which is what criteria should such £25,000 chunks, or £4bn chunks, be given out?

Well here's a suggestion that came up at El Reg during our "BBC Week" last November. I think it's a good one. (If you're squeamish, when you see the word "BBC" in the next paragraph, just substitute the word "gatekeeper" - for the point is applicable to whoever holds a substantial amount of commissioning money). Take it away, Luther Blissett:

The BBC has to decide if people are stupid or intelligent.

If the former, then embedded reporters will continue to be interviewed in politically correct terms by talking heads about unverified snippets from dubious sources while spilling the beans in selective fashion, and people will use the internet to find the other side of the coin.

If the latter, then it has to get out of the way and allow disparate points of view to be put by those who hold them, and their narratives aired sufficiently fully so people don't have to use the internet to make up their minds. Since some narratives are more complex and/or harder to put across, it has to jettison its specious simulacrum of a concept of "balance" - which in any case would be irrelevant. (The question of when to pull the broadcasting plug on a narrative might be settled in various ways. One would be to see when it degenerates into tedium, repetition, blatant adversariality, tendentiousness, ad hominem attacks, personality cult, etc).

And here's the punchline:

Rationality... really needs an intellectual overhaul which does not leave reason itself as the privilege of a select few tribes or as a mode of life which one tribe can seek to impose on another. In other words .. either we all are capable of reasoning in one and same way, or none of us are.

In other words, we're all capable of thinking for ourselves. In the week that the Beeb cowered before a fact-free fanatic, touting the "emerging truth" of an "infant science") this seems particularly poignant.

Now here's the BBC's Adam Curtis, on what a fragmented landscape looks like when the "public service" media don't know what they're doing.

What marks out all these groups is that they're fundamentally negative - they're looking for something to criticise. They don't have a political ideal - and they don't know what's going on. So they retreat into a simplified and often very dated view of the world.

Which is fine, because actually you're right, most people throughout history have a simplified view of the world. What a journalist's job is to try and do, is go a tiny bit further than that, and actually try and open people's minds up, and ask, "Have you thought of looking at it this way?" That's its job.

What's happening on the internet is that people are retreating into their citadels where they will not have that. And if you try and do it, they don't like it. Because you're joining up the dots in a way that isn't the way they joined up the dots.

What really happens now, is that they're so entrenched in their self-referential groups, anyone who joins up the dots any other way is a bad person.

That's the kind of groupthink so beautifully exemplified by Ofcom's idea of public service: BoingBoing, RealClimate and the Dawkins personality cult.

So from those two starting points, we can see a real strategy for Public Service Broadcasting begin to emerge. It should start with giving us the airwaves, and unlocking the talent. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.