The BBC has brought the Top Gear brand under one roof. This might not sound like a revolutionary step but it is. For the first time, a 'public service' television programme, its online avatar and the print magazine of the same name will be physically and philosophically together, operating as a 'virtual company'. If nothing else, it pioneers an official new level of co-operation between BBC Television, BBC Online and BBC Worldwide.
It will also give Michael Harvey, editor of the magazine, a major new role in expanding the brand across the globe. Top Gear magazine has licensed editions in several territories, and this can now be tied in with sales of the tv show overseas, with sponsorship opportunities (especially in the USA) and with brand extensions such as ... aftershave (just imagine the aroma; Castrol R and petrol, perhaps).
Will other publishers, broadcasters and onliners squeal? Perhaps they will, but with the less-than-expected licence fee settlement now clear the BBC will probably make the argument that it needs to generate as much revenue as possible from its commercial activities, and also that this kind of reorganisation brings managerial efficiencies.
If the Top Gear experiment succeeds in getting these three bits of the Beeb to work together there will be a massive machine in operation.
Question - how does this compare with Ofcom's proposals for an online Public Service Publisher?