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Peacock is back

Broadcasting is as subject to market failure as anything else

By Caroline Thomson   September 2004

Barry Cox, the deputy chairman of Channel 4, accuses the BBC of a “category error” in drawing parallels between broadcasting and other public services like health, education, parks and museums. In his view, the expansion of choice is making broadcasting more like a normal consumer market. Moreover, he believes that changes in technology will lead to the BBC becoming a subscription-based service after digital switchover.

The intellectual origins of this view can be traced back to the Peacock report of 1986. But for the BBC, such arguments lead us into a trap where public service is replaced by market economics…

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