The idea that public service broadcasting should be the sole preserve of the BBC was always a non-starter, writes Robin Parker.

The presence of a BBC-only model in the first phase of Ofcom's PSB review was a red herring. Nestled among myriad pledges to protect plurality, it was seemingly included only to fuel debate, which it did successfully.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards has admitted the idea had virtually no support, from the BBC or anywhere else. Just two private individuals wrote in support - one of whom laid their cards on the table up front by declaring “I don't have a television set, but...” - presumably in green ink.

Tiger Aspect's Heather Rabbats drew the short straw last week when she defended the model at an Ofcom debate opposite heavyweight and heartfelt speeches touching on the more realistic options.

She was surprisingly persuasive about freezing out commercial broadcasters from PSB obligations and rightly concerned that Ofcom can only make changes at a glacial pace, arguing that any model or models adopted now could become out of date by the time they are implemented.

Rabbats placed faith in the adaptability of a creative market that thrives on innovation. Left alone, she argued, the market will provide plurality of news - which mainstream broadcaster wouldn't want a news bulletin in their schedule?

But as the fragile state of children's TV - seen most starkly at ITV - proves, the market alone cannot guarantee plurality in all key genres.

With this redundant model out of the way, Ofcom can now concentrate on what appears to be Richards' pet concern: how to fund Channel 4. All remaining options guarantee a PSB future for the broadcaster and the possibility that it could receive ITV's spectrum rights is an intriguing prospect.

C4 has always positioned itself as the alternative voice, niggling away at the more received orthodoxies of our state-funded broadcaster in the interests of plurality. In factual programming it is the BBC's only real competitor with lengthy runs of Dispatches and Cutting Edge offering the first port of call for many indies. Despite intense financial pressure, has vowed to protect the budgets of both of these fairly uncommercial strands to protect this PSB heritage.

C4 chief executive Andy Duncan and head of programmes Julian Bellamy have both made great strides to outline how they see this continuing - so long as they get help to fill a potential funding gap of around£100m a year by 2012.

Skating round the sidelines of much of the debate has been the question of just how its character could change once public funding becomes a reality. Can you challenge orthodoxies with one hand while taking money from the public purse with the other?

In the Ofcom debate, DCD chairman David Elstein made the case for a single body to allocate PSB funds to commercial broadcasters. Its key attributes would be the usual buzzwords: accountability, flexibility, transparency.

His point of reference for this commissioning body? The original, pre-multichannel Channel 4.

Robin Parker is Broadcast's deputy news editor