Feb 162016

Long time no post. I know, bad blogger but prompted to write a little post on today’s announcement from the BBC that it is abolishing it’s ‘Divisions – TV and Radio’. Division is the operative word here as I have written about in some of my last posts (eg Mediocre Broadcaster MultiPlatform) the silo walls that traditional broadcasters have built up are the main reason ‘they’ have become more and more irrelevant to evolved multi-platform, personalized audiences.

“In what is being billed as the most far-reaching organisational overhaul in the BBC’s 93-year history, Lord Hall will give a speech before Easter in which he will unveil proposals to axe the corporation’s existing channel-based structures, fundamentally reshaping the organisation into content and audience-led divisions.” Telegraph article

I worked at the BBC for over 8 years when it was going through another major transformation, the introduction of digital, interactive tv and the internet. I recall many meetings as senior development producer with senior management looking at new ways to create cross-platform content, and perhaps do away with these silly political divisions based on distribution vs audience centricity. So here we are almost 20 years later and finally the game is afoot.

The major transformation that has happened with the ubiquitous new medium called broadband has meant audiences can now get what they want on their own terms, not slaves to schedules or broadcasters second guessing what audiences want. The advent of Netflix (and similar) recently means we are finally living into the age of Personalization (which has been the foundation of this blog since 2006 – spend some time in the archives and you will see many prescient articles) – so organisations that split their content based on receiving boxes (TV screen and Radio receiver) are way behind the curve.


Audiences, or users, do not differentiate now between these antiquated, dated devices, they press a button and get, video stream to any device, audio (video without the moving stuff) to any device AND lots of pictures, interactive games/education, personally relevant content and great textual stories.

“New divisions may include BBC Entertain, which will absorb Radio 2 and televised entertainment program, and BBC Inform, in which news services and other radio stations like Five Live will be found. Each new division will have smaller ones underneath it such as BBC Youth (a subdivision of BBC Entertain), which will include the online channel BBC Three and popular music station Radio 1.”  Digital Trends

What Next?

It is the non-passive content where ‘traditional’ broadcasters still need to up their game. Forget the endless tomes written about ‘new gaseous distribution’, that is patently obvious, we need to move beyond billions of people passively watching streams, binging on five of the same show back to back in an evening, a public service broadcasters role is to inform through interaction, not just slick, expensive natural history passive programmes. But I digress. I loved the BBC when I was there. It was trying to pioneer new forms of content, new ways to engage an audience. I am sure that breaking the organisation into Entertain, Inform and Youth (which were silos bandied around back in the late 1990s too!) is a step in the right direction. The next challenge is to really encourage innovative proposals which go beyond video stream, audio stream and a web page and connect with their future mobile, personalized users. I have a mental library of ways they and other broadcasters, who are likely to follow suit, can do that.

Next post – The Emperors Clothes in Virtual Reality….

May 292009

ABC Island Second Life Panorama 3000 wide!
While lecturing to AFTRS students last week about multi platform, social media & new forms I got on to games and social virtual worlds. When I asked who knew about Second Life one student chirped up “oh isn’t that the place where ABC TV got bombed”. Now a few things immediately sprung to mind when hearing this comment

  1. Having built the ABC TV Island in 5 days or so and part running it at the time I knew the background to this intimately, so how much detail to go into?
  2. I was also bizarrely running a LAMP residential lab in Tasmania when this event occurred and Lisa Romano then an ABC producer was one of our mentors, she also was in charge of the ABC Island at the time – so very much involved in the response
  3. These events are very rare and my experience was either mostly technical server errors or simple admin error, so the problem was fixed in an hour or so as we immediately liaised with Linden Lab who run Second Life and fixed the problem

But the thing that really sprung to mind was, wow this event was back in May 2007. A two year old story. How and why would it persist so long and into the heads of ‘one so young’ – well mid 20s gen, young in my book :). Then I started to think about the story I used to tell not so long ago to folk who were fascinated by the story of the intriguing ‘ripple’ effect. How a technical error ended up with the CEO of ABC TV being interrogated in government about the act being about anti- Public Service commercialisation combined with terrorism training. This also reminded me forcibly of Laurel Papworth’s Ripple effect and more importantly the Long Tail of an influenced ripple effect – whereby a story is spread like chinese whispers and in some cases enters into folklore and myth – even with endless online interrogation. I also liken this to the Butterfly effect or chain reaction, where a small event can end up causing something far more significant. In this case study below of ABC Island, as you see below, it was more to do with a kind of mass hysteria about the medium of branded virtual worlds & the reflection of that out into real ‘prejudiced’ society. An example of online mass hysteria or clever marketing? You decide.

So here is a glimpse into the Butterfly Effect chronology on 2nd year anniversary of the momentus event 🙂

Continue reading »