BBC director-general Mark Thompson has indicated that the corporation sees an on demand future in which the BBC would think carefully about new launches. Addressing an invited audience in London, attended by Broadband TV News, Thompson said the BBC would concentrate on getting value from its content. “It is highly unlikely in a time when on demand is developing that we would want to launch new linear services.” However, he thought the time poor society of the future would still have a need for the existing linear channels. Thompson added that he expected the demand for the BBC iPlayer – launching in the next two weeks – to be strong.
In his speech Thompson looked at the role of the public broadcaster in 2012 against the market failure of genres that the BBC could support. He indicated to his audience of politicians, industry figures and BBC executives that the BBC would not continue to enter every new area available to it.
When questioned Thompson backed the BBC HD channel and the case for the big five networks to be granted DTT capacity, at least in the short term. “I passionately believe unless we’re able to find a migration path Freeview will have a limited force as a platform,” he said.
Thomson was cautious on suggestions that the licence fee could be split to fund public service activities of other organisations. He reminded the audience that the gifted spectrum that in the past had been given to ITV and Channel 4 was in itself a subsidy. However, he welcomed recent suggestions by Ofcom that public intervention in the broadband space should be explored.