If the BBC wants iPlayer to dominate the market, end the licence fee

The BBC dominates just about every market it enters, often at the expense of smaller companies. Now the BBC wants its iPlayer to dominate the the online TV market. It wants to compete against Netflix and Amazon. 

Lord Hall, the Beeb's director general, has said that he wants the BBC to become "“the number one online TV service in the face of fierce competition”. The competition he is talking about derive their income from subscription and advertising. But of course, what he doesn't want is an end to the compulsory telly tax that gives the BBC the cash to embark on this expansionist plan. 

You won't be surprised to learn that other broadcasters are not happy with Lord Hall's plans to double iPlayer's audience. As more of us watch a greater proportion of programming on demand, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, have to raise more advertising revenue through the ITV Hub, All 4, and My 5. If they don't, they could go broke. 

Other services such as Now TV have tapped into this market. Owned by Sky, Now TV is a much cheaper alternative to a full Sky package. It gives people what they want without a committing to a contract. 

If ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 lose their audience share, their advertising revenue will fall. If Now TV loses subscribers, its income falls. If the BBC loses its audience share, its income is not affected. Using money forcibly taken out of our bank accounts, it can do what it likes as long as it doesn't violate its charter. And the wads of cash it does have at its disposal will unfairly have adverse consequences on commercial broadcasters. 

This is yet another example of the BBC having its cake and eating it. It's happy to push out competitors, but refuses to live in the real commercial world. 

If the BBC wants its iPlayer to dominate the market, scrap the licence fee and start competing on a level playing field. But pigs will start to gracefully glide through the air before the BBC will advocate that. 

 

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