There’s a surprising interview from the ‘Today’ archive (from 2009) between James Naughtie and Will Hutton. Naughtie asks Hutton to speculate on the future of newspapers in the U.K. Hutton replies:
Well I think there is going to be a transitional period. It could last 10 years, it could be as long as 20 years, in which the way we’ve done it over the last period is plainly going to be uneconomic and there are not going to be new ways of doing it that ARE economic, and I think that what’s going to happen is that in Britain at least..I actually think the BBC..there’s a grave danger it’s going to become THE sole news provider in the country, with one or two organisations – maybe the Guardian/Observer, maybe News International, maybe the Daily Mail and General Trust organisations – just falling besides the wayside, and in this period actually people are turning more to the BBC. The evidence from OFCOM is that people are actually using television news and BBC radio more actually, not less. So we’ll be in a danger…we’ll be in a period when there’ll be a monopoly provider…
So, Will Hutton two years ago was predicting that the BBC was the main danger when it comes to a potential news monopoly in this country. That monopoly situation looks to be getting ever more likely.
He does offer some hope though that after 15 or so years of the BBC monopoly people would be so fed up they’d be flocking willingly to pay for news online. Cold comfort.