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Arrington on Dissolving the BBC Technorati icon

February 24, 2007 | Filed under: Random Thoughts

 
When I first heard that Michael Arrington (Techcrunch) had called for the BBC to be dissolved during a panel discussion at FOWA I was horrified. I have held back my comments until now because some context was needed. Now have that from Ian Forrester's video of the session. More videos from Ian here.
 
Now I see that it was obviously an agitational comment, devised to get people to think about a problem. The context of the discussion was the startup scene in the UK and how it is lagging behind Silicon Valley. Arrington's comment was illustrating that the BBC consistently stomps on start-ups by using its might (and license fee war chest) to release competitive products to the one's that the startups are working on. Well, I think he is right about that. Raising investement and getting users must suck if you are in the UK competing against the BBC. But that's where the truth ends.
 
Perhaps we should also call for Google and Microsoft to be dissolved because of their share of the startup stomping? The difference between the BBC and these guys is that the Beeb is not entirely about making money but about culture. Every other media company on Planet Earth exists to make as much money as possible so their business model, their internal philosophies, their employees are all focussed on extracting as much money as possible from a piece of intellectual property.
 
The BBC is constitutionally bound to, amongst other things:
(b) promoting education and learning;
(c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
Media companies with IP priorities are shackled from providing this service because the IP world is optimised for control, geographic containment, one-way broadcast and so on. The BBC can truly explore Media 2.0 and get into two-way, cross media innovation for the benefit of culture.
 
We need big companies as well as startups innovating the field. I was impressed in 2003 when I met with the BBC to talk about their plans for the iPlayer. They were designing a P2P product at the height of everyone else's global litigation strategy. They were focussed on enhancing the cultural experience for people in the UK instead of (exclusively) obsessing about IP. They're leadership is a good thing for startups.  
 

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