Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae

Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae

Article excerpt

The BBC - still flying the flag for public service broadcasting

Formative years

The British Broadcasting Corporation we know and (mostly) love dates back to 1926 and a remarkable piece of political footwork which delivered both guaranteed funding and editorial independence in one fell swoop - all enshrined by Royal Charter. Not a bad day's work for its 38-year-old then-general manager John (later Lord) Reith.

But it could all have been very different - the original British Broadcasting Company of 1922 was a private sector JV formed along US lines, complete with shareholders, sponsored programming and a regular board of directors. Who knew?

Recent history

That was then. In the connected, converged and citizen-powered media market of the 21st century, it is claimed (usually by those with an axe to grind) that the whole public service remit is seriously behind the times. More Dixon of Dock Green than Line of Duty.

Not to mention extravagant - commercial rivals from Sky to BT reckon the Beeb's pounds 3.7bn licence fee income makes it unfair and anti-competitive. 3,000 jobs have gone on the way to savings of pounds 1.5bn, but not without a struggle. In May, the news that BBC Food's recipes website was to be mothballed to save pounds 15m prompted over 200,000 outraged signatures on an online petition - and a hasty climbdown. …

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