Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens

Why isn’t the BBC on this list? Because..

A comment here brings up the question of

“Let us not foreget Auntie – the dear old British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC must have one of largest archives of historical material in the World, that should be freely available, for research , if not commercial use.”

So why aren’t we mentioning the BBC in this campaign? Couple of reasons, actually. (1) It doesn’t raise its money from taxes. No, it doesn’t. It raises (almost all of) its revenues through the licence fee, which is payable if you own a television. You are under no obligation to buy a TV. (In fact there’s presently a weird loophole where you can watch TV on a PC without needing a licence.) That’s rather different from organisations which get their cash from us.

In addition to that, the BBC is opening up its archives in all sorts of ways. The BBC Backstage project is full of exciting ideas which are being done in all sorts of ad-hoc no-payment ways: take the scheme which brings the BBC’s banned news Persian service to people in Iran via instant messenger. The plans for charging are on the back burner, for the most part. It’s not a closed organisation at all.

In fact, if you can think of some useful data that you reckon the BBC should make available, it probably already has..

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