Commercial competition runs scared. 

29 June 2005

BBC “too commercial”, say radio rivals [Guardian]

The world of commercial operation is fascinating.

They exist because of the belief that competition is a good thing; that competing services mean better services; that money can be made by being better or more popular than the competition.

Except not. The moment anybody actually competes with a commercial undertaking, they invariably cry foul. When that competition is a commercial company, the crying of foul is generally ignored by everyone. Usually it ends up in court, with both sides claiming the other is ripping them off in some way. If you can’t beat them, crush them.

But when the competition is from the BBC? Well, that’s different. Not only does it make for headlines – the newspapers, as commercial bodies, would like the competition of the BBC doing away with and know full well that an end to the current BBC would benefit them to the detriment of everybody else – it also make for parliamentary debate.

Phil Riley, the chief executive of Chrysalis Radio, claims that the commercial digital radio station One Word was adversely affected by the subsequent launch of BBC7. “No one was expecting the BBC to do virtually the same service – books, drama and plays – the BBC launched something without any reference to what was happening in the market.”

Well, diddums. So what?

OneWord hasn’t been harmed by the existence of BBC7. OneWord has been ‘harmed’ by competition, regardless of who it’s from. And how has it been harmed? Well, because the BBC service it is competing with is better than OneWord.

The solution for Mr Riley and the other cry-babies in the commercial sector is simple: go back to your stations and make them better. Compete. Wipe the floor with the BBC by being better than them. Boost the quality of the product until the BBC comes a poor second. Improve the audio quality. Spend more money. Make it better (or, at least, any good at all).

But no. It’s so much easier to sit in a Select Committee and whinge, whine, piss and moan about how unfair it all is. How terrible that it is that they won’t make more money because someone is better than them at their job. Boo-hoo, please Miss Jowell, the BBC keeps poking me!! Ugh.

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