BBC boss cautions pubcasters on new media

Mark Thompson defends public broadcasters at confab

BERLIN -- BBC director general Mark Thompson made an impassioned argument for public broadcasters Tuesday but stopped short of calling for an all-in strategy in the digital space.

Speaking at Berlin's Medienwoche, the three-day conference that ties in with popular technology confab IFA, Thompson cited the need for his company to deliver high-quality, educational and unbiased programming not carried by commercial television, but included a note of caution about expanding too far.

"What I'm not arguing for is an unconstrained, ungoverned expansion by the BBC into digital space," he said, adding that his own company's forays into new media had been curtailed several years ago, so as not to distort the free market.

Thompson's words were duly noted by his German audience, as the Internet expansion plans of public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are being heavily criticized as unfair competition for private companies not flush with cash from television license fees.