Goddard, Peter

Peter Goddard (University of Liverpool) questions the usefulness of the concept of ‘distinctiveness’ in measuring the value and impact of the BBC. With the term becoming policy nom du jour, Goddard argues that the term’s elastic and contradictory uses ‘conceals a threat to the notion of the BBC as a universal broadcaster as well.’ Goddard offers examples of BBC’s distinctive ‘breakout hits’ such as Top Gear and The Great British Bake Off which were not obvious candidates for commercial success, and could have only been developed within the non-profit model of broadcasting. Yet, while these programmes are initially praised for distinctiveness, they are also criticised for the lack of it, due to their popularity and longevity. The success and distinctiveness of popular programmes that the BBC produces is determined by its public service model, and its commitment to universality; as Goddard further points out, the BBC’s competitiveness is crucial to the ‘whole secure in ensuring that its competitors must seek to match quality of its output in order to compete for audiences.’

Peter Goddard