Imagine. Best way always. Imagine you are a media mogul called say Mark Thompson for the sake of argument. You control four national TV channels, five national radio channels, three digital add ons, three national regions, lots of local radio stations and a worldwide internet, TV and radio presence. Let’s, again purely for the sake of argument, call you the BBC.

Your content is premium and much admired and much desired around the world-a world in which broadcasting quality is no longer paramount. Your content has much value so you decide to cash in on that; to charge to test the market. Very simple you just erect a pay wall around access to it. Technology makes this easy. The BBC is no longer universally available but on subscription only. Many listeners, viewers and internet users join you inside the fortress BBC pay wall. Writes John Mair…

You get courage and more funds so you buy a few national newspapers. One tabloid – let’s call it the Moon-one top of range-The Old Times-and one supermarket trash-The World of News. They have big readerships and better big numbers access them on-line. You monetise them too by putting the BBC pay wall round them as well. Some join you on the other side.

Then you start to package and bundle it all together. You can get BBC sport on TV, radio and newspapers as part of a BBC sport package or you get entertainment on a BBC Entertainment package or you get multi platform news on a news one. Simple segmentation. Or you can buy an all BBC package for less than the individual ones. It all starts off cheap but soon you find Mark Thompson keeps offering you deals on more and more packages. Hard to resist ones. Before you know where you are, your annual spend is in excess of £400 on BBC packages alone. The BBC then finds it is the biggest broadcaster in Britain and can afford to buy any sporting rights and programmes it wishes; the Sky is, well, the limit.

Finally, just imagine but instead of the gatekeeper of the pay wall being the mythical Mark it is somebody called Rupert and it’s not the BBC, it’s Sky…

Imagination or a not too distant reality? You decide!

Many thanks to the BBC College of Journalism (



Filed under Features

2 responses to “INSIDE THE (PAY) WALLS; An allegory

  1. Natasha De Silva

    Not too wild an imagination. We might see it happening in the near future…

  2. and that single post justifies the entire licence fee and the existence of the BBC

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