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The BBC and the Future for Public Service Broadcasting

Tonight I'm at UQ yet again, for the second CCCS public lecture by visiting scholar Georgina Born (and you've got to admire my restraint in not titling this blog entry "Born Again"). This talk looks like it's going to be more generally about the lessons to be learnt from the BBC's history and present. She begins by noting the distance between executive rhetoric and the reality of work in public service broadcasters (PSB), but of course such contradictions characterise any complex organisation.

Dealing with Digital Content in a Convergent Environment

We've now moved to a plenary session on converging media policy. Now that media convergence is finally starting to happen, there may be a number of crucial effects of this development, and there need to be new policy approaches to address them. The first speaker is Edgar Berger, the CEO of Sony BMG Germany. He begins by discussing the impact of digital technologies on the music industry. To begin with, business is now no longer done only with specialised retailers - music is also being licenced to telcos, games developers, online content providers, and many other partners. The music video market is also changing: videos are now being downloaded for a fee by users rather than being distributed for free to music television stations. For the consumer, the experience of music has also changed thoroughly - it is now available anywhere, anytime through the Internet and mobile devices in a wide variety of forms including ringtones, mobile video, and other new digital formats. There is special growth in the mobile world, and in what's called dual delivery - consumers buying a song once for access on mobiles and PC-based media. Digital media also changes the creative process: consumers discover musical acts on the Internet and it is only after this discovery that contracts are signed with music industry players. The question of 'piracy' is also raised here, and Berger restates very clearly Sony BMG's commitment to pursuing 'piracy', while balancing this with consumer rights (but remains vague on how he intends to do this). Is digitisation a risk or an opportunity for the music industry, then? There is a dual strategy here - of combatting copyright infringement while embracing the opportunities of digital media at the same time.

Football and the Global Media

The next panel is on the 2006 Football World Cup - it's a high density panel, so there will be some very short and fast presentations. Cornel Sandvoss notes that more nations partipated in the World Cup qualifiers than are members of the United Nations - clearly this is a highly international, global event which also evokes a good deal of national enthusiasm: even in the normally flag-shy Germany we do see small flags on people's cars at the moment. Behind modern, association football and its formation was the rise of industrialism which turned it from an unregulated village contest to an organised inter-city game, thereby also giving rise to professional football, of course. More recently, there was also the emergence of important international competitions.

Reality Politics and Politicotainment

The second session for the day involves my colleague John Hartley - and while it may seem somewhat strange to spend time in Dresden listening to a paper by someone who works in the building next to mine in Brisbane, we just don't get enough opportunities to hear one another's papers at home, so here I am. The session emerges from the increasing combination of reality TV and politics - from politically inflected television shows to news/entertainment hybrids like The Daily Show. Similarly, of course, politicians have become celebrities, and vice versa. The session also links to a new book on Peter Lang, Politicotainment.

The Real Simpsons

Some people have too much time on their hands. Via YouTube:

Back to the West Wing

The West Wing is back on Australian TV screens - back being the operating word here, with episodes restarting with the "Twenty Hours in America" two-parter from the Bartlet re-election campaign which originally screened in the U.S. on September 2002. Australians will know that this is due to the show's move from the commercial Nine Network, which buried the show in the 23:30 timeslot, to the publicly funded ABC; there, at least it's on at 21:30 for the time being, and without commercial breaks (now if only we could continue to get double episodes every week to catch up with the action!).


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