IN the fast-changing, modern media landscape, the BBC remains the elephant in the newsroom. It’s a hugely influential behemoth, funded by public levy and, thereby, less affected financially by changing market preferences or even by technological change. With that generously resourced influence comes a responsibility to its viewers, listeners and readers which might be said to include other parts of the media that generate news stories from their own independently resourced funds.

The BBC has always denied any intention of crowding out commercial news organisations. Nevertheless, the Cairncross report recommends that Ofcom should investigate if it is harming other journalism. The aim is to ensure that the BBC complements rather than competes with other parts of the industry, particularly given its huge advantage in being able to offer all its news for free.

An ex-journalist herself, Dame Frances Cairncross is not uncritical of the newspaper industry, but is keen to preserve high-quality journalism in all its forms. As she notes, written journalism still provides the majority of exclusive reports, as well as being an important part of democracy in holding governments, councils, and many public and private organisations to account.

Nor does her report recommend curtailing the BBC, particularly given its aim of impartiality. A frequent whipping boy for interest groups, the BBC remains a bastion of quality journalism. But it’s only one part of a diverse media landscape, which includes commercial enterprises that also provide a public service.

Damaging these, even inadvertently, is therefore inimical to the BBC’s aim. And, while public service may not be the first words that come to mind when contemplating some sectors of the industry, it is a responsibility that is taken seriously elsewhere. The BBC also maintains a strong sense of responsibility and, in pursuance of that, it will – we trust – take seriously its position in the wider media market, and investigate how it can help rather than hinder.