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A clear win for the BBC

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01 November 2010

No wonder nobody could decide whether the BBC cuts were bad or good. Generally we have plenty of time to assess these things. Who would’ve believed it possible that a negotiation between state and publicly-owned broadcaster (with more “stakeholders” than is countable) could be achieved apparently overnight?

Such was the haste with which the BBC deal was done, we needed four days to recover before Mark Thompson could tell us whether it was good or not. “The BBC's independence is strengthened”, he wrote in MediaGuardian, as if wishing made it so; a point only slightly undermined by the leader column in the same paper arguing the opposite.

So we can quibble and query over the relative benefits of the BBC taking full control over the World Service, finally. We can even haver and caveat over no rise in the licence fee for the next six years and, if you want to be exceptionally nerdy, we can spend some time discussing S4C.

The real test though is what would you do, oh fellow media owner? Ask any media company whether they would accept a fixed income for the next six years and they’d likely take out all your limbs in their anxiety to bite your arm off.

Obviously I exclude Sky. No point about the media industry can be made including Sky anymore. I’m starting to wonder if it can be reclassified as a telecommunications and bundling hub, simply for rhetorical benefits.

So this is most definitely a win for the BBC. As a media organisation that isn’t dependent on advertising, that doesn’t have to create a whole new subscription base for itself and knows its income will rise over the next six years due to the increase in number of households, its position is exceptionally strong.

A farewell triumph, then, for Michael Lyons. Which reminds me. The ad for his replacement is out. It doesn’t mention “ability to accede to Jeremy Hunt’s demands re the National Audit Office” in the job description, but you can be sure it’ll come up at interview. Apply often and good luck! Remember, it’s between you and Terry Leahy...

Janine Gibson is editor of guardian.co.uk

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