Ashley Highfield, the Bible and the BBC

It’s worth reading Ashley Highfield’s speech to the Royal Television Society earlier this week, if you’ve got time. As usual with Ashley’s pronouncements, I find myself half agreeing, half violently disagreeing.

You can’t possibly argue that the BBC hasn’t been beneficial to new media in the UK. I mean, at various times, it has employed a good proportion of the entire UK new media industry. (Although not, so far, myself.) But nobody can come close to matching its depth of resources, its lack of commercial pressures, and perhaps most importantly, its predictability of income.

It absolutely is the industry’s 800lb gorilla. There’s simply no way that a UK-based content company could hope to compete. But let’s be fair to Ashley. His specific quote is:

So far from being a 800 pound gorilla crushing the green shoots of plucky cyber-sowers, I believe we have the potential to have a significant and positive market impact.

The truth is, it could potentially do both. Let’s think of it as an ‘Old Testament’ BBC, smiting those who dare challenge its omnipotence; and a ‘New Testament’ BBC, loving its neighbours. And from over a decade in new media, I think I’m safe to say that the new media people are generally hippy-ish, caring/sharing folk. I guess, though, it depends on the ‘suits’.