Mark Thompson gave a punchy and coherent response to both James Murdoch and Ben Bradshaw today. Here was my favourite bit:
Wherever it can be – and certainly in the case of the BBC – public space is free at the point of use. And the more people who use it the better.
Consider the contrast between the availability of music and arts on Sky Arts and on BBC Television. Sky Arts is one of the most positive developments in multi-channel television. It has some brilliant programming. It extends the choice and range of music and arts available on TV. In a typical seven days, it reaches perhaps half a million people.
But arts on the BBC is simply of a different order. To quote just one statistic, this summer more than twelve million people in this country sampled the Proms on BBC Television before the Last Night. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not claiming any special credit for that, by the way – the BBC exists in part to make the arts universally available, Sky does not. Private space focuses on the minority who already have a taste for the arts, public space reaches out across the population.
In the case of the BBC, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another important characteristic. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no demand curve and no exclusion. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buy a better service from the BBC no matter how wealthy you are. And you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop people who are less well off than you enjoying just as good a service as you do.
Public space is shared space.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why we will never erect a pay zone around our news.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why we will fight tooth and nail to preserve our broad public remit Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from Strictly to the Poetry Season.
And public space is independent space.
I got that from Mark Thompson speech | Tom Watson MP. And Tom applauds Thompson for coming out fighting. Having spent the last two days with young people who passionately believe in the BBC and passionately disagree with James Murdoch, I’m coming round to the idea that a good fight is maybe what we all need.