Big Brother Is Back

We all live in interesting times and the major business theme of 2009 is likely to be Government involvement in everything. Since many of the world's leading banks are now, ostensibly, in Government control, this is a theme that can't be ignored in any industry.

In France the Government has moved to remove ads during peak viewing times on all five national (or PBS) channels. To pay for this they're levying a charge of €450m on ISPs, mobile operators and commercial broadcasters.

In the UK a similar levy is to be proposed in a forthcoming report by Lord Carter, but this time to pay for universal broadband provision and to relieve BT of the burden of its public service requirements.

This results in an Atlantic divide - just as banks and car makers are being bailed out in the US, it's unlikely that the US will be helping out the broadcasters, but at least they may refrain from causing the unlevel playing fields (in favour of PBS) which are beginning to appear in Europe.

Consolidation, rationalisation, nationalisation and contraction are word we're going to have to get used to amongst the major European media players.

Ironically, I believe that all of this might have a positive influence on the Internet TV market, since this is a low cost, and increasingly more feasible route to market for brands and companies alike.