Long Live The BBC!

A while ago, Mike Arrington from TechCrunch called for the dissolution of the BBC at the FOWA conference. Today the BBC announces it is pulling the plug on the ‘BBC Jam‘ project – an online learning resource for school kids.

He has some regrets about what he said and asks today what people in the UK think about this and the boundaries that the BBC can go to or cross regarding all this.

I have a few things to say – some on top – some off – but just to give some more perspective to this conversation (I used to work for BBC News Interactive) :

BBC (especially in R&D) are always looking push the boundaries – without offending the license payer. And they have really done amazing things – especially in the past.

Back when radio started, the BBC created content and transmitted it : it sold many radios.

Same thing happened with television. The BBC helped to create the industry and helped (indirectly) sell loads of TVs through huge amounts of technical research and achievements. A ‘bit’ like Steve Jobs helped push portable audio and its formats by selling an iPod.

Arguably, without the BBC, the media industry it is part of wouldn’t be where it is today.

The BBC were recently told by the Director of Future Media and Technology (Ashley Highfield) that it must “Get web savvy or we die..”. There are going to be ALOT of changes coming in how the BBC manages and responds to its online strategies and goals set for the future.

‘Some’ people at the BBC look at you like you just produced fire from your hands if you mention ‘Web2.0’ and ‘social networks’ — “oooooh! prettyyy!.. must have some”

So, when the idea of a site for children’s education and learning comes up, all replete with tasty doses of ‘Web 2.0’, ‘ social networking’, ‘collaboration’, ‘virtual world’ etc. – which companies fall over themselves for these days (sometimes justifiably/worthwhile) – then you have to see what an easy sell it was to whatever board of people gave it the OK. (quite possibly, many of which didn’t have the slightest idea what it was – but it sounded ‘hip’ – so yay! let’s pwn it d00d)

I learned SO MUCH from the television as a child in the UK (as I am sure the teachers did too!). I learned alot of early computer skills on a BBC-A, BBC Micro, etc.. which OK, wasn’t strictly BBC, but I didn’t see Clive Sinclair or Research Machines claiming unfairness then – it was GOOD for the industry in the long run. Easy.

The BBC also has an obligation to outsource the production of a large percentage of content to outside companies/contractors. That’s where they give something back. Small companies can see their logo/credits role by and BBC1. What a feeling! Think of all the new leads and opportunities it creates for them.

Alas, not for those who are not chosen by the BBC. And I think you’ll find it’s those people who protest the most – and rightly so, in some cases – as here – possibly. I’m undecided about BBC Jam. I just wanted to add a bit more perspective.

The big thing that sets up the BBC as a huge target in all this is naturally the TV License. For those of you out there who still don’t know : Everyone in the UK who owns a TV set or a Radio is required by law to pay an annual TV License. A colour TV Licence costs £131.50 and it’s cheaper for a black and white set (lol).

So, it’s very much like a subscription model – but one you are forced into paying for, if you simply own a TV set.

As a child I used to ask “Then why doesn’t someone build a telly which can’t be tuned in to BBC1 or BBC2?” (we only had two BBC tv channels back then) – “Then we don’t need to pay the TV License” (which probably meant I could have more candy or something)

By removing those content channels from the device, surely we don’t have to pay for it.

What I’m getting at is, the BBC are forging forward into technology – sometimes forgetting the content itself (but that’s another rant) – in an area and network (the internet) where choice is endless. Also we have more and more digital tv channels cropping up all the time (mostly useless) – the choice is growing. Every second my eyes are watching YouTube or other video online, they’re not looking at the TV set (we already, forcibly paid for)

So, the more they develop online and digitally, I think the BBC will have to change to a subscription model eventually – because I can assure you, there’s a hell of alot more non-BBC content out there that I can put on my TV screen – and it’s growing by the day.

The TV License is likely doomed, but long live the BBC!!!

TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington calls for the End of The BBC!

bbcmike.jpgFile under ‘WTF’ and ‘ill-informed’.

[update: March 14th 2007: Long Live the BBC! ]

Apparently, during a panel at yesterday’s Future Of WebApps Conference, TechCrunch‘s Mike Arrington said ‘The BBC should be dissolved’. (see video here from BBC backstage’s Ian Forrester)

Listen here (edited) “The BBC Should Be Dissolved” : Mike Arrington : FOWA Feb 2007

download and share this mp3 here

And the longer version here 😉

download and share this mp3 here

Judging by the things he said, he clearly has no idea about how the BBC works in the UK. It *is* different to BBC World and he also gets some facts wrong about a kids social network.

I will agree to a point that the TV License (that every UK household who owns a TV is forced to pay) is often abused and unwisely spent on some astronomical salaries for many people who I happen to know first hand don’t have the required knowledge to make certain decisions. 😉

Shooting ITN’s Terry Lloyd

I remember when this happened, while I was working at BBC News. I thought it was terrible that a journalist should get killed, and even be in harms way to such an extent to deliver a story. I was even asked if I minded the vast amount of hours I was putting in, to prepare our systems for war – I said ‘Look, some journos are sat in the back of a tank on their way to the front-line – of course I don’t mind!!’

But there was something different about this particular news of another casualty of war, when viewed from within a news organisation: the footage we see, compared to what is broadcast.

I heard the evening after they found out that Terry had been shot from a friend who worked at ITN at the time, how they learned of his death.

In global TV newsrooms, you tend to find a TV on every desk, plumbed into a huge network of AV feeds, with split-sceen, direct acess, all-sorts of video feeds from studios, camera teams, edit suites all over the organisation (I actually watch the live feed to White House and saw a soldier standing in for Bush to get the lighting right, before GW sat down, had his hear combed and informed the world that war had broken out in Bagdhad)

Here are some pics I took with my cameraphone at the time:

Apparently, at ITN one day, they were looking at a live unbroadcasted video feed coming from a camera team in Iraq. The camera had panned across a pile of dead Iraqi bodies that they had found. While panning around the bodies, apparently one of the people in the newsroom at ITN said “That’s Terry!” – His body was found with the Iraqis. To me, this could only mean one thing – that he had been killed by ‘our’ guys and they had piled him in with the rest of them. Awful. This is (apparently) how they learned of Terry’s death.

The stories on CNN, The Times and BBC that I have seen so far, seem to say there is potentially edited footage related to this incident. I’d have to say that it wouldn’t surprise me.

So, how did Dave Winer get the fresh BBC podcast feed?

I thought I’d show you where that feed came from that Dave Winer pointed to yesterday (since there was no link to the site 😉 )

Over on podcast.com, you will see many folders in the podcast directory you see there. One of the icons is a green feed icon : clicking it will display all the latest feeds (like a ‘NewsRiver’ for podcasts) The RSS feed icon link that appear there is the subscription link you need to stay updated to all feeds within that folder.

For the BBC podcast feeds though, we have set up a subdomain, pointing directly at the / Podcasts / News & Media / BBC folder.

This can be visited at http://bbc.podcast.com

From that subdomain page, you can also view the freshest feed by clicking the ‘freshest feeds’ button on the left menu. Again, the feed subscription link will appear there for you. For the BBC it is http://feeds.podcast.com/2417 and eventually we’ll make that easier my having bbc.podcast.com/fresh/feed or something.

Soon we will have some cool things for you to embed wherever you like, so you can keep updated and also see all the cool things you can easily put together using the feeds and data we have for you at podcast.com

Fresh BBC feeds

Nice to see the fresh podcast feeds from the BBC are working nicely for Mistah Winah!

A fresh feed can be generated of all the latest podcasts in all the feeds in any folder.

NOW – don’t forget folks – the directory you currently see at podcast.com is MY user account. Here is a different test account [ koz.podcast.com ]
SOON – you’ll be able to build your own podcast.com 🙂

All that data you manage there can be imported and exported to your tool of choice. We just hope we can make the discovery journey easier for you.

Fresh Podcast Feeds at Podcast.com

New icons and feeds for the directories at podcast.com

You should see a new icon over on the directories at podcast.com – it’s a green feed icon. We chose green, as it feels ‘FRESH’.

When you click a green feed icon next to a directory folder, the site will load up all the most recent entries to all of the podcasts within that folder. Here is a permalink to one of the fresh feed pages

Also, the results displayed by these icons and the ‘freshest feeds’ menu button on the left, provide you with an RSS feed link which you can use in your favourite aggregator to subscribe the latest podcasts automatically.

Eg: Here is the RSS feed for the latest podcasts from the BBC

Eg: Here is the RSS feed for the latest podcasts from NPR

Eg: Here is the RSS feed for the latest podcasts from CNN


Ah, the beauty of distributing content via XML. We love it!

There will be some more very cool new additions to the site coming very soon and we’re working around the clock and the globe to get the doors opened up for you here, so you can start building ‘your own podcast.com’.

Keep an eye on the development blog at podcast.com 

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