At the start of the year, Ed Morrissey mentioned explored the impact of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) on thrift stores and small manufacturers of children’s clothes and toys. The law was intended to reduce the risk of lead in toys, obviously a good intention, but draconian enforcement of it could cripple smaller manufacturers.
For more unintended consequences from seemingly good intentioned laws, note the reason spotted by England’s CentreRight blog for a 50 year old BBC children’s show losing 40 percent of its viewership in one year, during the same period when overall, BBC 1 also lost 5% of its viewers under 12:
It is doubtful any of this would have happened if the BBC had real competition for children’s TV. But since the decision to ban advertising of “unhealthy” food to children, ITV have pulled out of daytime children’s TV and the BBC has had an effective monopoly. This is presumably why the Beeb felt comfortable cutting 20 minutes from its key after school slot in order to fit in the Weakest Link.
The lesson is clear: monopolies lead to less choice in broadcasting as in every field. Which is why the key outcome of the government’s review of public service broadcasting must be to promote competition and choice for viewers across all genres. Children’s TV is a case in point, but plurality of provision for news is even more important. If we want the highest standards from the BBC, they need to know we have a choice.