Not quite a trial marriage yet, but the BBC is to cooperate with ITV to allow independent regional news in England and Wales to keep going. The BBC will share facilities, and some content in order to save ITV around £7m a year.
But let's be clear here: scheduled broadcast media is dead. This is more about deckchairs being reorganised than any realistic commercial future.
The BBC was doing a pretty good job until the 90s when it became overtaken by Common Purpose's subtle but insidious PC ethos, and thus a useful tool for social engineering for the "champagne socialististas" of Blair's "project".
The problem seems to be that it was allowed to grow and become ever fatter when the costs of broadcast technology dramatically dropped in the 80s/90s. Ironically, the result was that the luvvie-heavy management slashed the BBC's own world-class technology development operations and bought in cheap foreign solutions. The savings were not passed onto license payers but immediately "reinvested" in vast empire-creation projects, and especially the new digital media experiments that stunted the UK's crucial commercial media industry.
And so the BBC's dependence on government patronage grew with the inevitable consequences that various oleagenous political creeps have been allowed to get away with outrageously cynical behaviour in public office for as long as they have. A familiar corrupt face is making headlines again today in the "free press" - but will the BBC cover the story adequately, I wonder? The website doesn't seem to have noticed.
When Auntie underpaid the market rate, it developed and held on to its considerable wealth of home-grown talent through loyalty and dedication, not just cash; but now its deep trough can attract the gadarene swine of the world of "meedja" as they pass by. Some of the better talent simply gets weary of the left-ist bias and departs without making any sort of public fuss. Any BBC employee that is willing to go public with attitudes that are not on message quickly learns that there is no future for them.
The way that the "have your say" section of the website is moderated in the effort to suppress off-message comment and PC comment is laughable. The social engineering efforts of a decade do not seem have worked as well as expected, and management must be distraught at having to provide a platform for the very views that it spends hundreds of millions pounds to try and engineer out of British society.
Let's not underestimate the scope and depth of the technology revolution that has empowered creative talent and has enabled anyone with £10k to produce TV programming that competes with the best in the world. Yet still "olde worlde" budgets are thrown at shows like Dr Who and a cast of thousands of luvvies are hauled in and hyped to the rafters, and even the costly regional diversity box get ticked along the way. And still too many people accept the arguments about the cost of producing such shows.
Of course the old guard is not interested in proving that they can do it on 10% of the budget and set a dangerous precedent - but the world has changed fundamentally, and there is no way to stuff the many geniis back into the bottle, no matter how hard the BBC is bent on keeping its gravy train running at full steam.
Overall, this announcement means no more than ITV needs a cut price way to avoid breaking its licence terms and this is the cheapest solution; and the BBC is probably anticipating picking up the pieces when ITV finally tanks, since such a fractured organisation would probably be a lot less attractive to any potential purchaser of ITV. Although an alternative view might be that this also makes the BBC operations easier to commercialise when the time comes and all scheduled broadcasting becomes web deliverable.