All 6 entries tagged British Broadcasting

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March 12, 2008

Chronology of Development of Free Digital TV in the UK

Chronology of Development of Free Digital  TV in the UK  

Tue 8th May 2008

Freesat Service Launched
Wed 17th Oct 2007
Whitehaven begins the digital switchover process as BBC TWO is closed on analogue.
Wed 26th Sep 2007
ABC-1 is pulled from Freeview and other platforms
Mon 20th Aug 2007
Channel 4 starts the first timeshift of a terrestrial channel with Channel4+1
Wed 27th Jun 2007
BBC iPlayer is launched as a beta test
Tue 8th May 2007
NEWS 24 becomes the first BBC TV channel to go online.
Fri 27th Apr 2007
BBC and ITV announced high definition Freesat service to launch Spring 2008
Wed 14th Mar 2007
Michael Grade closes ITV Play.
Thu 25th Jan 2007
MPs invesgiate quiz TV channels in the Houses of Parliament
Wed 15th Nov 2006
Channel 4's quiz channel Quizcall is removed from Freeview
Sun 23rd Jul 2006
Film4 relaunches as a free channel and gains a 4.3% share of viewing.
Mon 22nd May 2006
Sky launch their satellite HDTV service
Thu 11th May 2006
BBC launch their HDTV service on cable, satellite and Freeview (London only)
Wed 19th Apr 2006
ITV Play starts as a full-time Freeview channel.
Sat 11th Mar 2006
CITV, ITV's Children's Channel, starts broadcasting
Sat 17th Dec 2005
Ofcom publishes the Digital Dividend Review - how the government can make money by selling off TV frequencies C31-40 and C63-68
Tue 1st Nov 2005
ITV-4 starts
Mon 31st Oct 2005
Sky Three starts
Wed 12th Oct 2005
ITV and C4 join Freeview founders BBC, BSkyB and National Grid Transco.
Mon 10th Oct 2005
More4 launches free-to-air on Freeview.
Wed 25th May 2005
E4 relaunches as a free-to-air channel on Freeview.
Wed 27th Apr 2005
ITV pays £134m for acquisition of a Freeview multiplex
Mon 1st Nov 2004
ITV adds a third branded channel to Freeview
Thu 21st Oct 2004
Sky relaunches the non-subscription satellite boxes for one-off payment of £150.
Tue 31st Aug 2004
National Grid Transco buys Crown Castle International for £1,138m
Mon 29th Dec 2003
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) becomes TV's super-regulator.
Sun 9th Feb 2003
BBC THREE replaces Choice channel.
Wed 30th Oct 2002
BBC, BSkyB and Crown Castle International launch Freeview: a package of 30 free channels though and aerial with no contract.

BBC Press Office Press Release about launch of Freeview

Fri 5th Jul 2002 launched
Wed 1st May 2002
ITV digital (see below) closed with huge losses.
Sat 2nd Mar 2002
BBC FOUR replaces Knowledge channel.
Mon 11th Feb 2002
BBC children's channels, cBeebies and CBBC start in BBC's digital daytime airtime.
Thu 27th Sep 2001
Sky's analogue satellite service is closed.
Wed 11th Jul 2001
ONdigital re-launched as ITVdigital.


Tue 1st Jun 1999
BBC Knowledge launches.
Mon 7th Dec 1998
ITV-2 launches.
Sun 15th Nov 1998
ONdigital launches a 40 channel mixture of pay and free channels, using digital technology though a roof-top aerial.
Thu 1st Oct 1998
Sky launches Sky Digital, now with hundreds of channels and the highest standard pictures using a compact dish. New technology makes pay-per-view films and entertainment a daily reality.
Wed 23rd Sep 1998
BBC Choice, the first UK widescreen channel launches with BBC Parliament.
Sun 9th Nov 1997
BBC launch their News 24 domestic news channel.

March 11, 2008

BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer

Link to Chronology of UK Digital TV

The Guardian Organgrinder commentary asks:

So just how important is the BBC's £131m investment in the iPlayer to the future of television viewing, audience measurement and competition with commercial companies such as ITV and Joost?
Other useful nuggets revealed that streamed iPlayer viewing is dominating downloads by 8:1, although the BBC expects this to level out at 4:1 in the future, with 70% of shows downloaded actually viewed.

Partner deals with the likes of Bebo - and now Yahoo, MSN and Blinkx - are an important part of fulfilling the iPlayer's public service remit, said Highfield. He pointed out that 8 million internet users engage with BBC content via non-BBC websites - three million of whom never visit

...the iPlayer internet service is just a stepping stone to making BBC programmes available on every available digital outlet and device - including iPhone and iPod video in the coming weeks - with a launch, albeit slightly delayed, on Virgin Media's cable TV service next month.

such a well-funded project from a household name like the BBC, offering high quality content, could well take broadband TV into the mainstream.

An ITV insider argues that the success of the iPlayer was an endorsement of its own strategy and revenue targets - which include making £150m-a-year in digital revenues from by 2012 - as opposed to a threat that will kill any commercial operator's chances of making money out of broadband TV stone dead.

Of course the rise and rise of the iPlayer's popularity could also prove to be its biggest bone of contention with ISPs.
Best of the Organgrinder Blog comments

I would like to see the entire archive of BBC programmes placed online without any DRM limiting how long I have to watch them. There are thousands of programmes out there that are worth watching, but are never placed on DVD or any other form of media that allow them to be watched again.

As someone who has paid the licence fee, I think that the BBC's remit should include making all its programmes available to all who pay the licence fee. (Roadie)

Making the entire archive of the BBC available is the ultimate goal of the BBC too. however there's 2 major hurdling blocks.

Firstly the getting rights usage from all all these programs.
the bbc don't 'own' the rights to use and do what they wnat with these programs as you might imagine. it is amazing how complex this is, particularly for older programs and anything involving music. for every clip you licence a variable fee is paid to the writer, principle performers etc. depending on the length. A fee and agreement has to be worked out and agreed to for every program from all contributors.

Second. Finding the master copies, digitising and storing all this content and creating an infrastructure and capable or serving the content via the web is no small task.

Thankfully all programs now made at the bbc are digitally archived and i would assume most contracts contain either buyout or internet rights usage.(Attic)

I've been using the iPlayer since it was the alpha product, the BBC iMP.

The introduction of the Flash version which gives immediate access from Windows, Macs and even my Linux Eee PC is great.

The download version just needs the Microsoft DRM snake oil removing from it, but I've been bugging them (and they are nice people who were very polite about it) for some years.

What's missing?

1) Series stacking. PACT didn't like the idea that you could catch up with all the episodes of a series you missed, so that's a bit crappy/..

2) The long tail. Yes, you know what it is. Auntie know what it is. But the iPlayer has docked it! How wrong is that?

3) IMHO the BBC should be - for the licence fee - a national library, not just another pusher of shiny things. There needs to be just a little more public service in the iPlayer. (Briantist) 

I've been using the iPlayer since it was the alpha product, the BBC iMP.

The introduction of the Flash version which gives immediate access from Windows, Macs and even my Linux Eee PC is great.

The download version just needs the Microsoft DRM snake oil removing from it, but I've been bugging them (and they are nice people who were very polite about it) for some years.

What's missing?

1) Series stacking. PACT didn't like the idea that you could catch up with all the episodes of a series you missed, so that's a bit crappy/..

2) The long tail. Yes, you know what it is. Auntie know what it is. But the iPlayer has docked it! How wrong is that?

3) IMHO the BBC should be - for the licence fee - a national library, not just another pusher of shiny things. There needs to be just a little more public service in the iPlayer.


About the BBC iPlayer

February 08: Guardian Organgrinder : Could this be Broadband Tv's Freeview Moment?

Freeview Posts Record Growth

Freeview Posts Record Growth Last quarter of 2007


Freeview is owned by a joint venture between the BBC, National Grid Wireless, Sky, ITV and Channel 4. The Guardian reported today that Freeview is now examining the possibility of developing a new generation of set-top boxes that consumers can plug in to their broadband connections. This would enable them to access online services such as the BBC's iPlayer through their television sets.

In its best ever performance, more than 3.8m devices that can receive Freeview were sold in the last quarter of 2007, according to figures to be released today. For the year as a whole 9.7m TVs, set top boxes and personal video recorders were sold that can receive Freeview's more than 40 free to air channels, up 64% on the previous year and also a new record. (Guardian March 11th 2008)

The History of Freeview

Before Freeview was the ill-fated On-Digital from ITV: (BBC October 2002) 

In fact numbers are much less important to Freeview than they were to ITV Digital. The new consortium does not have to sell subscriptions to recoup the cost of premium programmes like ITV Digital's ultimately crippling £315 million deal with the Nationwide League. (Nick Higham BBC)

Emily Bell's Guardian Media column in 2002 entitled: It's Free but will Anyone Want it? made the following comments:

But Forrester's pessimistic ponderings highlighted another conundrum at the heart of Freeview. What on earth is it for? The answer is plugging the digital gap - between those who don't want or can't have or can't afford cable or Sky but will need a new digital television or decoder in order to make it possible for the government to switch off the analogue signal. Undoubtedly one of the key correct decisions about Freeview is that it is free. But then, as Lemony Snicket might warn, there is an ever-present danger that you won't be able to give it away. (My Emphasis)

Freeview Now the third quarter of last year more than 86% of UK households were so-called multi-channel homes - which includes those still taking Virgin Media's old analogue cable service. (ibid)

The strong take-up of 'free' digital terrestrial TV was also fuelled by sales of flat screen TVs with built-in digital TV decoders. Last week, department store group John Lewis reported that it sold more flat screen TVs - the vast majority of which include digital TV decoders - over the festive period than it had in 2006. (ibid)

Faced with the possibility of losing television altogether, digital refuseniks have been caving in and buying a new TV or set-top box. With the market reaching saturation point, Freeview reckons its future growth is likely to come from sales of Playback branded devices. Like personal video recorders from Sky and Virgin Media, Playback allows users to pause or rewind live TV and record an entire series with the push of a single button.

"Clearly looking at TV as a whole and the way that the technology is moving, integrating internet-provided TV with broadcast-provided TV has to be the shape of things to come," said Howling.  (General manager of Freeview). 

Recent Information on Freeview Channels Viewership

The Launch of 'Dave' on Freeview

Chris Tryhon Guardian Media reporter 24th October 2007 

Dave's debut week makes it the fifth biggest channel - discounting the five analogue terrestrial channels - among all multichannel viewers over 16.

ITV2 tops the list with a 1.93% share, followed by E4 (1.61%), ITV3 (1.6%) and Sky Sports 1 (1.42%). Channels below Dave include BBC3, Living, UKTV Gold and Sky One.

Among ABC1 males and 16- to 44-year-old males, only Sky Sports 1 outranks Dave in the multichannel ratings outside the big five of BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel Five.

This appears to vindicate UKTV's strategy of rebranding UKTV G2 to Dave and focusing on a young male audience by offering a mix of comedy and factual entertainment programming.

January 27, 2008

BBC: The Move to Multicasting

BBC: Moving to a Multicasting Environment and Creating a Vibrant Digital Public Sphere for the 21st Century

Sir Michael Lyons

Sir Michael Lyons: Chair of the BBC Trust

The best and bravest brains in media policy need to think outside of the top-slicing box. Britain once again needs to lead the civilised world into a new media era, to protect the creation of valuable but vulnerable programming and creative artists.(Maggie Brown Media Guardian)


The development of the content of the BBC Online which I generally consider to be an excellent public resource has not been without its controversial side. This has  particularly come from firstly:  those who had no concept of how the web could be developed and how that development could be influenced by strong Broadcasting institutions with their roots in 'old media'; secondly those who have a strong vested interest in the BBC failing such as News Corporation.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the future of what was once called broad-casting (the production of a limited amount of content targeted at  large to very  large audiences has largely been a thing of the past for several years. There will of course always be occasional events which comfortably generate local audiences of more than 10 million at the time but these will become increasingly rare. Massive stories about Royalty, England in a World Cup Final (if it ever happens again), probably the upcoming Olympics in certain finals if there is a national interest (oh and Dr. Who! ):

The Doctor Who Special on Christmas Day won a 50% share of the total television audience, averaging over 12 million viewers and peaking at 13.8 million. These are the Doctor's best viewing figures since the Tom Baker days of 1979. (Caroline Thompson operating officer for the BBC Jan 2008)

It is many years since the BBC was promoting a heavyhanded patrician Broadcasting policy largely dominated by a Reithian discourse that was often accused of being elitist. This posting starts to explore the history of BBC online and the policies that have underpinned it. It also looks briefly at the enemies of the BBC in the populist broadcasting / multicasting domain as well examining the pusilanimous attitude of New Labour in the face of  the  populist freemarketeers such as Sky and its ilk circling around  an increasingly embattled BBC which is doing an excellent job. This blog takes the position that many people don't know what they've got 'til its gone'! As far as I'm concerned everybody who is taking out a subscription to Sky is banging a nail into the future of high quality British multicasting. 

The Development of BBC Online 

25 April 2006:

The BBC today unveiled radical plans to rebuild its website around user-generated content, including blogs and home videos, with the aim of creating a public service version of

Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media and technology, also announced proposals to put the corporation's entire programme catalogue online for the first time from tomorrow in written archive form, as an "experimental prototype", and rebrand MyBBCPlayer as BBC iPlayer. (ibid)

It was announced that  all future BBC digital output and services around three concepts -

  1. Share
  2. Find
  3. Play

Mr Highfield said the share concept would allow users to "create your own space and to build around you", encouraging them to launch ther own blogs and post home videos on the site. (My emphasis)
At the heart of the play concept is MyBBCPlayer, which will allow the public to download and view BBC programming online and was today rebranded as BBC iPlayer. (My emphasis)
The find concept relates to next-generation search and unlocking the BBC archive. From tomorrow internet users will for the first time be able to search for details of the corporation's entire programme catalogue as far back as 1937. (My emphasis)

Is it "All About Audiences"?

So, as far the Trust is concerned this is not a debate about the interests of broadcasters. In our view it's not even about the interests of the BBC, narrowly defined. It is – or it ought to be – a debate about the interests of audiences.(My emphasis: Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, to the IPPR Oxford Media Convention 17 January 2008)

I would go further and in doing so seek to expand the remit of the debate into broadcasting into that of cultural policy in general. As with other policy environments and discources this raises the issue of citizenship. Just as there is a concept of social citizenship so there is a concept of cultural citizenship.  

It seems the 'New' Labour government can't keep its hands off the BBC for a moment and there is already another round of examining the public servivce broadcasting (multicasting) systems in this country. At the heart of this is the continuing attempt to remove some of the BBC's rights to the whole of the licence fee which is often simply described as "another tax" by the more simple minded. Rather than being this it is a licence fee which runs a core element of what can be described as cultural citizenship which ensures that there is a good system of representation at the heart of the British nation, a system which isn't controlled by government but which has accountability.

This blog argues that it isn't "all about audiences" rather it is all about the creation and maintenance of a system of citizenship which has public service broadcasting / multicasting at its very heart. Those citizens are also the audiences. My concern is the construction and discourse which turns a citizen into an 'audience' and is something which will be discussed in greater depth on this blog. Here I wish to underscore the point that as the World moves towards an increasingly digitised and fragmented mediascape a core concept about media which needs to be maintained is that of citizenship.

The Changing Media Environment

Many people have a stronger sense of themselves as individuals rather than as parts of communities. Minorities are becoming more confident about asserting their needs. Britain is becoming much more culturally diverse. We see increasing numbers of people who identify with multiple communities – social, cultural or geographical. There's a rising demand for personalisation and customisation – for services crafted just for you. (Sir Michael Lyons ibid)

Lyons then proceeds to make the following key points:

  1. The BBC cannot cherry pick its audiences as commercial broadcasters can. Because of the way it is funded, and because its Public Purposes mean that it has to engage with everyone in the UK, the BBC has to find ways to reach all its audiences in all their complexity. (My emphasis)
  2. This doesn't mean that every programme or piece of online content has to satisfy every individual licence fee payer – although some kinds of BBC output should appeal to very large sections of the audience. (My emphasis)
  3. But it does mean that every audience member must find enough they value from the BBC to justify the licence fee and to provide the means by which the BBC can engage with them in order to deliver its Public Purposes. (My emphasis)

I think it will be useful to start to unpack these ideas bearing in mind that I prefer the concept of the cultural citizen to that of "the audience".

...every audience member must find enough they value from the BBC

Firstly let us substitute the concept of cultural citizen from the nebulous one of "audience". I have no doubt in my mind that every single citizen in this country - and also many global citizens have gained enormous value from the BBC, even if after the time they have left school they never watch listen to or access  BBC  content again.

The embedded values and the links with education alone and the educational broadcasting alone have provided enormous added value to the country as a whole. Those who are mentally tied to quantitative research methods or "metrics", as the trendy term seems to be, will conveniently ignore all this embedded value which has significantly  contributed  to the  general Social / Political / Economic / Cultural  (SPEC) environment that is Britain today.

Secondly let us look at the notion of "every audience member...". Well I think this is certainly an arguable point. There is a national grid for electricity, there is a legal obligation for all houses to attached to the telephone system should the citizen require it, there is a nationally levied road tax which all vehicle owners MUST pay however little they use their vehicle. There is an NHS system which is always available to all even if some people never get have accidents and die peacefully in their sleep without a day's illness or if they decide to continually go private. All of these things are aspects of contemporary citizenship and all of them rightly allow for individual agency.

Given the importance of creating and maintaining a multicasting system which provides information etc in as unbiased a fashion as possible which can act as a core part of every single citizens training as a citizen the notion of Public Service Broadcasting / Multicasting is fundamental to our way of life and everybody who is working should be contributing towards this. In return for this we should be expecting high quality rather than the dumbing down which has been a feature of populist media otherwise known as 'lowest common denominator'. 

The Dangers of "Topslicing" the BBC Licence Fee

Sarkozy with supermodel

Sarkozy with a 'supermodel'. Oddly just as New Labour wants to dumb down the BBC as much as possible man of the Right in France Sarkozy wants a "French BBC"

One of the biggest dangers to the future of Public Service Multicasting and the future of the BBC as a powerful global player able to stand up the bullying of the 'Media Moguls' such as Rupert Murdoch and News International is the concept of 'topslicing' the BBC. This was something when the pusillanimous Tessa Jowell was the Culture Minister and is currently still being threatened. Given that this week we have already lost the culture minister with the resignation of Peter Hain citizens should be extremly dubious about the abilities of government ministers to be able to control this area.

Given that New Labour caved into Murdoch in their bid for power in 1997 everything that this governement do in relation to media and the BBC must be treated with an enormous amount of scepticism. Already the BBC has become the third most used site in the UK which is an extraordinary success story yet there is still whingeing in the wings about the license fee. The fact of the matter is that in terms of content and quality the BBC is topping the world league because to compare the use of Google or Yahoo is to compare using a TV company with a phone directory not an entirely adeqaute comparison:

The BBC website is number three in the UK. The two companies above us - Google and MSN - and the two companies below us, Yahoo! and eBay, are all the American giants. How we can adapt to that and operate on a global scale while still being predominantly funded through the UK licence, that's an issue for us.(Ashley Highfield)

From the perspective of public service multicasting Highfield's comments would be well served by some decent quality qualitative research into the length of use as well as frequency of access to the BBC website citizens make. It is something which can also be partially achieved through the BBCs own Analytics figures which I'm sure it has.  

What is topslicing?  

It is as Lyons elaborates below:

...the suggestion that a part of each licence fee should go to a body that would use the money to subsidise public service content from broadcasters other than the BBC.

Firstly let us as with the term "audience" analyse the underlying discourse that the BBC is dragged into here and seek to change it. Subsidise means to assist or to keep down the price of a commodity (Chambers dictionary defintion). 

Well the notion of 'topslicing' uncoincidently emerged from the Jowell era after the BBC got into trouble with the government over Iraq. Please note that all the bad things that were expected to happen after the invasion happened have happened and there were no "weapons of mass destruction". However in the wider political context topslicing must be seen as a method of disciplining the BBC by government. For this reason alone it is right to oppose it. 

"Topslicing" is more than this though. Throughout the period of 'New' Labour there has been a continual undermining of the BBC and the Public Service Broadcasting ethos. This has been very much because of the pressure applied on the BBC since the 1990 Broadcasting Act under the Conservatives and which New Labour have followed in their love affair with Rupert Murdoch. There will be more on the relationships with Murdoch and Greg Dyke's revelations after his resignation elsewhere in the blog.  

Thankfully the Guardian's media correspondent Maggie Brown has made the point loud and clear when it comes to topslicing:

What no one raised at the Oxford media summit is that the top-slicing idea, which may see the cutting down and undermining of the BBC, is quite at odds with international developments.

Just across the channel, French president Nicolas Sarkozy is not only besotted with Carla Bruni. He is also a huge fan of the BBC. So much so that he plans to end the French public service channels' partial dependence on advertising and turn them purely non-commercial

Why Give Licence Fee Subsidies to Commercial Enterprises?  

The reality is that as the new mediascape continues to develop there is less and less need for ITV and Channel 4.  This is proven by the decline in audiences, advertising increasingly moving online a corresponding crash in revenue for old media and in the case of ITV the crashing of the share price. A recent survey suggested that actually ITV had been doing alright on advertising revenue expressing surprise at the slump in the stock market value  In this latter case the market is 'pricing in' the future estimates of ITV advertising earnings. In an era which in media terms is driven by the equation:

What you want, where you want it , when you want it

Do we need these traditional old media companies?  

There is no need for all these traditional broadcasters. Personally I never use either ITV and very rarely Channel 4 (this was my favourite channel until the early 1990s when it became increasingly dumbed down). In the latter case this is to access the excellent John Snow and his team. I occasionally use Film 4. Increasingly audiences are migrating online. There are plenty of opportunities for commercial broadcasters to thrive there if they are any good. As it is they will have to compete with the BBC and increasingly the best quality Newspapers which themselves are increasing moving towards a multimedia environment. Indeed it is worth reminding readers that in a BBC made game on the rise of video-gaming made around 3 years ago David Puttnam commented that perhaps between 2015-2020 TV as we know it will have largely disappeared. 

When I research articles for this blog I never seem to get good links coming up from the search engines from ITV or Channel 4. Most of the articles are researched down to the current Google listing of page twenty and occasionally even beyond this. The BBC frequently comes up. Whilst this finding can only be taken at more of an anecdotal level it points to the fact that when it comes to doing serious work on the web the BBC along with the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Economist, The Daily Telegraph score far more hits and I link into them far more frequently. As this is now a large film and media studies blog this might be taken as indicative that worthwhile content is not being provided by the commercial broadcasters and that their web presence is weak. If they can't find commercially viable audiences at a global level to pay their overpriced salaries then I certainly don't expect to subsidise them. It is a competitive commercial market and that is that!  

My own suspicion is that the era for these companies is largely over and that they will probably disappear perhaps to be replaced by a plethora of more adaptive multimedia companies online. The ITV is a dinosaur best forgotten unless Michael Grade can use its past content creatively while turning it around to face the multicasting age. It should be able to contend with players such as Murdoch but it will have to do so without government support, however it should also have its remit to provide public service broadcasting / multicasting removed. Let it be an honest provider of pap within the regulatory regime of the moment. Its shareholders and those working for it in the past had an easy time of it as the other half of a duopoly. Let them work for their money and convince shareholders that they are a better bet than Google or Myspace. Personally I wouldn't want my pension invested with them at the moment. 

Why is the BBC Different?  Cultural Citizenship & The Public Sphere

The BBC is different because it sets a benchmark by which all other multimedia multicasting companies MUST meet or beat. The BBC isn't perfect and never will be, but by setting the benchmark for standards which effectively have become those of cultural citizenship in the contemporary era it gives us all a foundation upon which to demand improvements in content and comment upon issues such as over or under representation of specific groups or issues. This in short should be the central axis around which any public sphere (Habermas) should revolve and evolve. These are the standards by which we as citizens and therefore license fee payers should be judging the BBC and the content of its developing multicasting environment. 

The notion of a genuinely interactive public sphere linked to access to knowledge and information and tied to a concept of citizenship is entirely antipathetic to commercial broadcasting models. Left liberalism has been so anti the patrician notion of the BBC that it has left the door wide open to rampant commercialism and as a result anybody foolish enough to try and change channels from BBC News 24 has to undergo a barrage of repeats of Big Brother or some other rubbishy "reality TV" show: thank you left liberal populists and your neo-con allies in News Corporation! 

The notion of having a vital and influential public sphere means that a public service broadcasting institution should have far more independence than it does at present from the government of the day. There is no doubt that the BBC has to go cap in hand to the government of the day when a spending review and an updating of the licensing fee is sought. This is not to say that Parliament should not have some say in how this sort of instituion is run. A standing select committee for this and other cultural policy matters should be an important role, however this should be entirely divorced from matters of funding. 

Funding through an automatically inflation-linked licence fee year on year should be the basic funding formula for the BBC however it should be able to access more funding when there is a specific case such as upgrading technologies on a national basis, such as instituting Freeview or BBC On-line for example.  

This doesn't mean that every programme or piece of online content has to satisfy every individual licence fee payer

The second point that Lyons made in relation to the role of the BBC overlaps with my comments above. With the notion of fragmenting audiences and overlapping identities being very much the order of the day, let alone issues of personal preference and taste this is clearly a pertinent comment.  We live in a media rich world which is getting richer by the day and offers extraordinary diversity. Pleasing all of the people all of the time is neither possible nor desirable providing most of the people most of the time with diversity combined with good quality is achievable. 

Providing a plethora of content and also an environment in which content can be at least partially created by users is fundamental to the future of media and in this sense the programme suggested by the BBC has been very perceptive in its notions of how to interact with new media trends. The problem is that the very cultural heritage which we as citizens have already paid for as citizens is so rich and of such good quality and continues to be that the commercial operators cry foul! They persuaded the government to reduce the power and effectiveness of online opportunities such as the BBC iPlayer. It is this that is anti-democratic and is a clear case of government acting in the interests of a minority but powerful commercial group against the interests of those people who voted it in in the first place. 

Of course this links into the first point made by Lyons:

the BBC has to find ways to reach all its audiences in all their complexity

Strange then isn't it that the government acts to curtail the BBC in an area of its key strength and advantage over crass commercialism. It is a case of citizens and audiences not getting the quality they deserve and have paid for already rather it is a case of commerce restricting access to increase its own bottom lines.  

What is the BBC hoping to develop?

Media City Salford Plan

The Proposed Media City Salford

The advent of the networking model of society which is symbolised by the development of the internet is increasingly effecting how we envisage new ways of working and communicating in the contemporary world. Here an extract from a recent speech by Caroline Thompson shows just how far the notion of a networking society is reaching into core institutions:

Instead of the old hub and spoke arrangement, where London is the hub and the regions are the spokes, the BBC of the 21st Century will be based on a fully networked model. A model that will harness the power of human networks, tapping into a pool of creative energy across the country.(My Empahsisis: Caroline Thompson Chief Operating Officer the BBC Friday 11 January 2008

The move of the BBC headquarters to Salford is an important move and underpins in a physical and rooted way the virtual possibilities of media which is imnportant. Nevertheless it is recognised that new media is fundamental to the future of the BBC: 

This will include the central Future Media team that leads the development of the BBC's offering across the internet, digital TV and mobiles, and also the Media Research & Innovation team. These are two of our most important businesses and, together with Future Media colleagues supporting programme-making areas based in Salford...The Director of FM&T, Ashley Highfield, believes this is a chance to reinvent Future Media and how the BBC goes about creating it. (My Emphasis, Caroline Thompson)

Rolling Out Web 3.0?  

Currently Ashley Highfield is  currently thinking beyond the Web 2.0 model already being developed and already more based upon audience interactivity to a Web 3.0 model: 

The web 3.0 world puts a layer on top of that you could call editorial. It says this is probably what you were actually looking at. It says we the BBC know who you are. We've built up a good relationship with you through CRM. We know you were looking for a cop show from the '60s well here's a really good one that we know you - because we know something about you - will enjoy. (Ashley Highfield)


Thus far I have examined the notion of topslicing as yet another attack on the BBC from a government which isn't worthy of including the name 'Labour' in its title as it kowtows to the media moguls.  I have also placed the debates about where the BBC should be going in the context of cultural citizenship. It is a concept that must be made central to the agenda of any serious media policy debate for it is this that will help to make Britain both competitive and a beacon of civilisation in less than ideal world. I have also examined somke of the thinking currently within the BBC and suggested that cultural citizenship is a term which should replace audiences. Issues of representation should always be at the heart of media debates and the BBC should seek to represent those aspects of life which more commercial media organisations are not prepared to risk. More funding of challenging films and programmes and increasing levels of access to older materials on the BBC are important aspects of developing a media manifesto for Britian's future.

Its a Free World 1

From Ken Loach's ironically titled It's a Free World 2007. We can do without this 'free for all' in media. Citizenship comes first!


Public Speeches by BBC Leadership 2008

The Trouble With Trust: Building Confidence In Institutions:Mark Thompson Tuesday 15 January 2008

January 09, 2008

2012: Going Digital

2012: Going Digital

Digital Al

Digital Al starting the digital rollout to 2012 in Whitehaven

There is no doubt that a lot of companies have got their eye on 2012 becuase in the UK at least this is going to be the year when a brave new world of digital abundance is launched. The opening up of high speed broadband networks offering high speed video downloading will probably change our concept of the mobile phone which is already turning into a mobile entertainments machine which occasionaly functions as a phone.  

This brave new world will be be ushered in by an Olympic fanfare which will provide instant real time content for what will by then be 5 or 6 G wireless telephony doutless played on an "iMulti" which will look like a Kleenex as it unfolds its super hi tech screen. It won't of course be able to keep up with the new broadband networks but it will be fast by today's standards.

In the meantime the devices that are about to become popular amongst the computer commuters is the ultra-mobile PC like the Toshiba one below which will give you a good experience of the Olympics live when on a bus or train or on the move, alternatively, you can play World of Warcraft or be in the depths of Second Life:

Toshiba Ultra-Mobile Laptop

about the size of a paperback book and equipped with the latest in wireless technology the best thing is to get a microheadset rather than earphones and you can have a phone as well.  Once the airwaves have been opened up in 2012 the cost of high speed wireless telephony is set to drop dramatically and we will go from a subscription based payments system to an advertising driven one. Of course some of us would like to see a larger license fee being paid to the BBC in order to be able to provide a service of this nature at very low cost without the price of advertising. The pusilanimous New Labour government has enforced cut-backs at the BBC despite its world beating record at delivering new digital servicesPublic Service Multicasting is an important issue in the unfolding new media age. 

Where Digits go Advertising Follows

As can be seen from the report summary below advertising futures is developing a 2012 strategy now. It's only four years away and planning and contract negotiation needs to be well under way already. Consultancies and policy research organisations like Jupiter see below are already working on this:

Executive Summary

The launches of Google's mobile search sponsored-links program and Blyk's ad-funded mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), combined with release of best-practices guidelines from the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), highlight growing interest and hope generated by nascent mobile advertising revenues.

Key Questions

                    • Which audiences can marketers and advertisers target through nascent mobile media?

                    • How much revenue will mobile Internet advertising generate in 2012? (My emphasis on the question loads is the obvious answer!)

                    • Which tactics should mobile operators and media sellers deploy to foster advertisers' uptake of mobile marketing?

                    Wherever you are there's an advertiser waiting to pounce. Are people spending all this money to have great new communications technologies just to have it spoiled by continuous adverts? Support Public Service Multicasting now. Write to your MP and  show your dissatisfaction with the 'New' Labour treatment of the BBC!

                    April 19, 2007

                    The Changing Future of TV

                    The Changing Nature of TV in an "On Demand" Era

                    What you want, when you want it, where you want it!

                    This round up of new technologies from the BBC website gives you an overview of how digital imaging technologies are developing and will change the nature of TV quite fundamentally. Below this piece shows  the planned implementation of the UK switchover to digital. There is a BBC case study of how several families now percieve the schedules of TV in the era of media PCs and personal video recorders linked to high speed broadband.

                    The Great Digital Switchover 

                    The most important change ever in British Broadcasting will start to take place in 2008. This process will set in place the communications infrastructure that will probably make the UK the country with themost comprehensive fully digital broadcasting infrasturcture in the World. Hopefully it will still ensure that underlying these dramatic changes the ethos of public service broadcasting is maintained against the onslaught of total commercialisation. Below is a map of the planned process. Presumably it is something more than a coincidence that the system is due to be finished in Olympics year.

                    The digital switchover from analogue starts next year (2008) and is due to be completed in 2012 (just in time for the Olympics!) 

                    Map of digital switchover in UK

                    Family Case Studies

                    Family 1: The One TV Household

                    We could get a digital video recorder, and maybe we will. I'd rather do that than have a fragmented family where we don't see each other because we're all watching different programmes in different rooms.

                    Family 2: Owning a Media PC

                    Now, we hardly ever watch live TV - when we do it's either the news or sporting events.

                    Family 3: Owning a PVR (Personal Video Recorder)

                    The coming technology is even better. Currently, a PVR can only record what a channel transmits.

                    Broadband will change the broadcasters' role. Producers will put their catalogues online, on a pay-per-download basis, allowing intelligent broadband-connected PVRs all over the planet to browse and directly source material that matches our tastes.

                    Get the full story here

                    Changing Content Provision for New Technological Vehicles: Ricky Gervais on his internet work. This includes a video link to Gervais

                    Whitehaven: Reactions from Residents about being first fully digital town in the country

                    The Guardian had their reporter on the spot in October when the BBC 2 analogue service was switched off here are some of the comments:

                    Andrew Davies, who runs a guest house in the Cumbrian coastal town, said the process of becoming the first place in Britain to have its analogue TV signal switched off had been ill-thought-out and expensive.

                    It cost Mr Davies - who runs the eight-bedroom Glenfield guest house with his wife Margaret - around £1,000 to convert his business to digital. Initial estimates had put the cost as high as £5,000.

                    "We did not want or need digital TV," said Mr Davies. "It is a financial burden that has been put upon us without any consultation whatsoever.

                    "I am very cynical about why they chose to do this first in Whitehaven. Perhaps they thought we were a small town with a poor infrastructure who would not make a big fuss if it went wrong. If it was Kingston-upon-Thames there would have been riots on the streets."


                    TV on demand from the BBC

                    Will Digital Destroy the TV License?

                    BBC Changes Mark a Digital Future 

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