ourBeeb podcast 2: Claire Enders on the ever growing BBC news monopoly

Part two of an ourBeeb discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the BBC, featuring the CEO of Enders Analysis. What future for democracy, when the BBC becomes a news-providing monopoly?

We’re happy to present you with our latest podcast, Part 2 of a group discussion between ourBeeb.com (including Anthony Barnett, Dan Hancox and Natalie Fenton) with Claire Enders, Britain's leading media analyst, CEO of Enders Analysis.

This podcast explores radio as a pluralistic, democratic medium (while “television is the original shallows, a soporific medium”, Claire argues), and the fascinating, perhaps worrying prospect that the BBC's share of news provision will grow ever more monopolistic:

“What kind of future is it for us as a nation, where despite producing only 31% of TV news and current affairs, the BBC is already responsible for 74% of TV news and current affairs consumption?”

What are the implications for democracy here? Strikingly, the BBC share of news consumption is projected to grow, since the BBC's news rivals are “going to shrink every single day, forever”. In the period 2012-2020, Enders argues, news consumption from newspapers will only fall, and the BBC's will only rise.

“The most significant debate we're going to have will be around that growing share of news consumption. Is the BBC going to become some kind of megaphone? Drowning out ITN and everybody else? People are voting with their feet, despite this plethora of offers they have.”

On this subject, David Elstein adds,

“In the last decade, the 88% share of TV news consumption that the BBC and ITV command has shifted from a split of 59 v 29 to one of 74 v 14 - simply staggering. The BBC has a similar share of radio news consumption, and 47% of online news consumption. Even when print is included (from which the BBC is absent), the overall BBC share of all news consumption is above 60%.

“Ofcom asked the BBC Trust to come up with a plausible plan to introduce plurality into its news gathering, editorial control and output, noting that such plurality appears nowhere in the BBC's statement of values and purposes. Yet the BBC is set up as a unitary editorial structure - such a change would be utterly fundamental. Without it, we are heading for a Pravda state - so Claire's concern is very welcome, as well as urgent.”

The discussion was recorded at King's College London; podcast produced by Chris Wood.

About the author

Dan Hancox is a freelance writer for The Guardian and others, interested in radical politics, protest, and pop culture in Britain, Spain and beyond. His books include Utopia and the Valley of TearsFight Back! and Kettled Youth.