Free Market Rot
I'm normally a big fan of Reg analysis but I've got to disagree here. Maybe the Curtis articles/programmes polarised the issues more than normal.
Economists might spout rubbish based on over-simple models but even they know that free markets fail in various situations. This article was selling free-market philosophy, rather than free-market economics or even observations of reality.
An economist would have pointed out:
1. Big media requires big budgets (hence music labels, Murdoch etc)
2. Large budget requirements are a significant barrier to entry.
3. Significant barriers to entry pushes the market to domination by a few large firms
4. Large firms "compete" by market segmentation (repackaging the same product - laundry soap, multi-channel TV), local monopoly (cable, water, electricity, railway companies), gimmicks (wine or beer glasses from a petrol station) but the basic product is the same from all vendors.
5. "Perfect competition" requires and provides homogeneity
There were also some rather flawed assumptions:
1. the BBC doesn't already compete for viewers
It is known how popular various programmes are - the commercial companies at least want to know which programmes the population wants to watch.
2. Commercial companies provide what the customer wants
Not true at all. Companies provide what shareholders want. The customers are just a means of achieving that. Firms decide if the revenue expected warrants the investment required. Rubbish programmes will be produced as long as the return on investment is greater than on good quality programmes, even if the company knows customer would rather watch good quality programmes.
The next time you are unfortunate enough to have to sit through one of those "dance" or "singing" shows, measure how much time is spent on the song or dance vs the rest of the programme - recaps (always a favourite - look ma, no new material!), chatting, judges comments (which are the same every week) and adverts. I suspect the content the show is about only lasts for about 15-30 minutes out of a 2 hour show. That's worse than the 1/3 adverts on Sky-1.
3. Commercial companies seek out and provide value the BBC doesn't or can't.
The whole point of commercial companies is to siphon off the value for shareholders benefit. I would rather that value is re-invested in programming and returned to me that way.
I know the BBC also produces bad programmes, I know the government held a gun to its head as the charter came up for review (at least that's over for another 10 years) but I'm would rather be the one investing than give the reins to an organisation with no accountability at all.
There is more to life than profit - Curtis for BBC Director!