This paper goes beyond a conventional content-centric approach to public service broadcasting, to argue that the distinctiveness of the BBC as a public service communications provider lies in its historical role in delivering public policy. Unlike commercial broadcasters, who may and often do choose to ignore economic and other incentives, the BBC is relied upon to respond to government calls for assistance in implementing key policies. Broadcasting history in the UK demonstrates the crucial involvement of the Corporation in pioneering and at times even rescuing policy initiatives, ranging from the introduction of the very first broadcasts, to the on-going push towards wholesale digitalisation. The particular focus of this paper is on the historical role that the BBC has been playing in order for digitalisation policies to be implemented in the UK. It is in this context that the BBC may be considered indispensable.