Friday, October 08, 2010

The BBC: an open and shut case of corporate schizophrenia?

I've just scanned (health warning - I mean just scanned, I haven't read the response in any depth yet, so may have missed something obvious) the BBC's publicly available response to the Ofcom consultation on net neutrality.  It's full of sensible arguments about why the Net should be kept open e.g.
"The open and ‘neutral’ character of the internet is considered by many to have been a key driver of its growth and success to date. However, technological developments and the growth in the volumes of traffic passing over the internet pose challenges to this character. Undue blocking and degradation of traffic is already taking place. In this environment, to ensure the effective operation of the internet, consistent as far as possible with the principle of openness and neutrality, we need to have in place a clear, robust framework...
In our view, discriminating traffic by content provider or origin will distort competition and deviate from the end-to-end principle which is at the core of the open and neutral character of the internet...
The BBC believes there are clear incentives for anti-competitive behaviour to arise if unconstrained traffic management is permitted. At a basic level, allowing network operators to discriminate against certain types of content creates an additional entry cost for content and service providers. In the long-term this could prevent innovation and in turn restrict consumer choice. Furthermore, there is a real risk that ‘managed services’ could create an incentive for ISPs to ensure access remains scarce, thereby disincentivising further investment in next generation services."
I just wonder how they can square that call for openness with their 'confidential' response to the Ofcom consultation on attaching DRM digital locks to the BBC HD signal? The BBC's secret response was a key cornerstone of Ofcom's approval the BBC's application to add DRM restrictions to their HD signal.

Just a small request, since I know how things work in large organisations and it is entirely possible that they don't know each other - could someone at the BBC please introduce the team who drafted the demand for openness and net neutrality to the team who drafted the demand for DRM on BBC and Freeview HD? I do firmly believe the unwielding advance and malignant growth of bureaucracy leads to endemic corporate schizophrenia in all large organisations but it can be cathartic to at least give the individuals caught up in it an opportunity to defend their positions.

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