Saturday, October 03, 2009

Freewheelin'

The news that the London Evening Standard is going to be free further aligns the paid for against the non-paid-for world. The background to this in the UK is complex. First of all, most premium content is 'free', or rather, paid for by a tax called a 'licence fee' which underpins the vast media megalith that is the BBC, this puts unprecedented pressure on commercial organisations in the age of 'free'. The one area they do not skew the market is print.

Even thought TV is 'free' in the UK, the majority of people elect to pay service providers for it since they offer premium services such as sports content and sophisticated PVR functionality.

Then there is NewsCorp, who control the top tabloid newspaper, the top broadsheet newspaper and run the main broadcast service, as well as more channels than any other broadcaster. In most countries this is a situation reserved for the despot (think Italy...).

But now the former KGB owner of the Evening Standard is turning it into a 'freesheet' just as NewsCorp announce that they are going to start charging for content.

The irony is that the majority of commercial TV in the UK has always been free, and online delivery notwithstanding, is likely to remain so.