Ofcom Mobile Sector Assessment Interactive Executive Summary

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As we look forward to an all-digital world, new providers could play an important and growing role in meeting public service purposes. Competition for funding, which is widely used in other areas of public service, could enable an enhanced contribution from a range of alternative organisations. It could keep providers accountable and ensure the main public service institutions do not become complacent.


Ian Garrow on 25 September 2008 at 9:44pm

Can you provide ONE instance where "Competition for funding, which is widely used in other areas of public service" has enabled "an enhanced contribution"? I have worked in the public sector and find that such an approach has not resulted in any benefit at all.

Russ Taylor on 25 November 2008 at 4:15pm


What about the situations where private firms compete for government tenders for bus routes, military contracts, and construction projects?

While there may be examples of these procurements not working, I would imagine that most work well -- meaning they are reasonably on budget and serve the purposes that were originally intended.

If tax payers' money is available from the DSO-portion of the BBC licence fee and it is legally shifted into some other pot of money to award for new digital content, the question becomes more interesting: Who decides?

If a local authority awards a contract for a construction project that goes wrong (defined by a clear and agreed statement of work), there is democratic accountability for the poor results: an election.

In state-funded media, the accountability mechanisms are much weaker. There is also never a clear and agreed statement of work -- instead, the desired outcomes are expressed as vague and unenforceable goals. Ofcom has defined the key features of public service broadcasting, but it's far from a legal definition that could really be enforced in a bilateral setting.

That's why I would be initially skeptical of schemes were media firms compete for public money. If you think NHS or policing targets are confusing, imagine the targets that would be set for media firms to meet.

Trevor Lockwood on 28 November 2008 at 9:14am

Competition does not produce the best results. Look at the real cost of privatisation.

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On this experimental site we encourage you to leave informal comments alongside the Executive Summary of Ofcom's Second Public Service Broadcasting Review - Phase Two: preparing for the digital future, published on 25 September 2008.

Alternatively, you can download the full consultation document, and/or respond formally to the consultation (closing date 4 December 2008). You can also follow the debate on the PSB Review blog.