Last week it was David Cameron who took a pot shot at the BBC claiming that it had overextended itself. This week his views are echoed not by some media baron keen to push their own online agenda but from within the corporation itself.
Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust which acts as a watchdog for the BBC, has called on the corporation to look again at its online offering and “narrow the focus on distinctive content and help to create a more open BBC”. Lyons has also asked the corporation to re-evaluate the activities of its commercial wing BBC Worldwide, which many in the media have criticised for having an unfair advantage because of its huge financial backing and ability to use other BBC media to market its products.
Against a background of criticism of the BBC by commercial media rivals which have struggled to monetise online content, Lyons has told the corporation it needs to restructure its online content or face the consequences. The alternative could see a radical restructure forced on the BBC by a future government which may have close links to media owners.
“Beyond the core offer of news, sport, education, children’s and the iPlayer, which parts of the online service are essential to the BBC’s mission and which could be stopped?” asks Lyons inthe report. He also questioned the future of content not tethered to specific BBC programmes.
Even after a restructure the BBC’s online news output could still make it very tricky for commercial media companies to make money from their online content. It would be very hard for companies to put their content behind pay walls, when UK users could still access the BBC services for free.