BBC vs The Market

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From our Swindon Correspondent:

From the Guardian

YouTube’s UK boss has said his platform is more representative of modern Britain than broadcasters such as the BBC, saying that television channels are falling behind because they do not provide material that speaks directly to all parts of the country.

The Google-owned video service is on the cusp of overtaking the BBC as the dominant media source for 16- to 34-year-olds in the UK, with the average adult internet user watching 46 minutes of YouTube per day.

The problem for the BBC is that much of it rarely works today. The idea of large TV channels is one that was created in an era of scarce bandwidth and expensive equipment. So you had to have a few people rationing the time and money for people they thought would make the best shows. It’s very much a “picking winners” approach, and historically necessary.
When you can broadcast to billions with a phone camera that millions own, anyone can start a channel. Even if you’re doing a slick job, it’s £1500 for a camera and another £2000 for a laptop and editing software. You don’t need people picking winners, the market can pick winners with likes, shares and some algorithms.
So, many of the cheaper things like science, cookery, political interviews, film reviews are gradually being taken over on YouTube. No-one is making Jane Austen costume dramas yet, but that’s a tiny percentage of the BBC’s output.
Its growing dominance of the UK media market has focused government attention on the site’s impact on traditional broadcast outlets and whether it should have similar public service obligations to traditional television channels.
No. Absolutely bloody not.
The point of “public service obligations” were because costs were high and bandwidth was limited. Broadcasters, especially those chasing ad money might not make programmes for disabled people, or obscure arts shows.
When you solve costs and increase bandwidth, anyone can make a show and people do. You want stuff about Keynesian economics, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. There are lots of blind people making videos on YouTube, people of nearly all varieties of politics from communists to libertarians, the history of corsetry, how to repoint a wall. There are few colour, sex or whatever bars because this stuff is cheap to make.

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Paul Mercer
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Paul Mercer

Youtube does pick winners actually, but there is a lot of organic growth nonetheless

Spike
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Spike

No, “the point of ‘public service’ obligations” is to let the undeserving use the political process to help themselves to a small fraction of someone else’s achievement. There is no measurable concept of public service other than giving the public (some of the public) what it wants to view.

jgh
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jgh

“saying that television channels are falling behind because they do not provide material that speaks directly to all parts of the country.”
Downton Abbey speaks to the same people as Dr Who, the same people as Frisky Dingo, the same people as Will & Greg?

“The Google-owned video service is on the cusp of overtaking the BBC as the dominant media source for 16- to 34-year-olds in the UK”
So *not* speaking directly to all parts of the country, but predominantly the 16- to-34-year-old part of it.

Spike
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Spike

The 16-to-34 demo is important (and acutely studied) because they can be depended on to spend almost all available cash to satisfy sudden needs, warranting advertising.

I don’t know what the YouTube exec means by “speaking to all parts of the country.” Those shows have different audiences; a single show that set out to please all audiences would be pure vapidity. Perhaps that niches are getting so small that broadcasting must yield to narrow-casting?

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

“Perhaps that niches are getting so small that broadcasting must yield to narrow-casting?”

In a lot of areas, yes.

djc
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djc

I dont have a telly, I don’t even listen to the radio, I gave up on the BBC website a year ago. I do however watch a lot of stuff on Youtube. I am 67

Rather like taxing Amazon and thereby hitting the small businesses using Amazon Marketplace to get a start in online retailing, public service obligations for YouTube is an extra cost that will be paid by independent content providers

Bloke in North Dorset
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Bloke in North Dorset

And this is why the licence fee will die, those 16 to 34 year olds aren’t going to wake up when they’re 35 and think, oh well, time to buy a TV licence. In 10 years time it will be 16 to 44 year olds not buying a TV licence.

Whether or not they’re spending their time on YouTube is open for debate.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

Yes. Much like newspapers, TV is being kept alive by people who are well into the habit of watching TV.

My daughter went to university and doesn’t have a TV license because she’s all Netflix + YouTube.

johnd2008
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johnd2008

The TV in New Zealand is Crap of the first order, with commercials being repeated ad nauseam and at length. We watch Youtube for much of the time and find that we can access quality programmes from professionals and amateurs alike. Indeed some of the amateur work is a higher standard.

John Galt
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How much is the New Zealand TV License? Oh, that’s right. You scrapped it just like Australia did. We need some of that here…

Mr Womby
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Mr Womby

“No-one is making Jane Austen costume dramas yet.”

To which I say ‘Thank goodness’. What is it with the Beeb’s obsession with women in bonnets and stately homes? A plague on it.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

Gets reasonable rating and sells well overseas.

Michael van der Riet
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Michael van der Riet

a) My boss spends hours on YouTube every day during working hours watching CoD to lift his game. It’s his company. b) jgh, you’re thinking of one monolithic show that everyone in the country wants to watch. I’m rather proud that I’ve only watched ten or fifteen minutes each of GoT, DA, LotR and the entire Potter catalogue. I only watch Attenborough because there’s a chick I know and I want to get laid. I watch mainly rock bands, motor racing, soaring and yeah, cat videos. The point is that there can never be a time when the viewer says… Read more »

jgh
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jgh

I grew up when The Generation Game would have 60% of the Saturday evening audience. 20-odd million people all watching the same crap at the same time.

Spike
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Spike

You had to; it’s what classmates and co-workers would be talking about the next day. The “good old days”?

Esteban
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Esteban

Per Ronald Reagan “the closest thing to eternal life on this Earth is a temporary gov’t program”. Just because we don’t need the Beeb anymore, don’t think it’s going away.

John B
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John B

‘ The idea of large TV channels is one that was created in an era of scarce bandwidth.’

Bandwidth wasn’t scarce at all back then. There was only the BBC using it for TV & Radio and they were on VHF, later joined by ITV. The whole UHF was free for TV broadcasts.

It was the rejection of using advertising to fund what is a public good (radio-wave transmissions) and a desire to keep Government control over what the public could see and hear and do.