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Posts from — March 2010

On Delia Derbyshire for Ada Lovelace Day

Today, March 24 2010, is Ada Lovelace Day, the day when we cel­e­brate women in sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy and their achieve­ments – typ­i­cal­ly by blog­ging about them. You can find out more about Ada Lovelace Day at the Find­ing Ada web site, but here’s the basic gist:

Ada Lovelace Day was first cel­e­brat­ed in 2009, when over 2,000 peo­ple blogged about women in tech­nol­o­gy and sci­ence and the event receive wide media cov­er­age. This year the hope is to get 3,072 peo­ple to do the same. Ada Lovelace Day is organ­ised by Suw Char­man-Ander­son, who writes:

“Augus­ta Ada King, Count­ess of Lovelace was born on 10th Decem­ber 1815, the only child of Lord Byron and his wife, Annabel­la. Born Augus­ta Ada Byron, but now known sim­ply as Ada Lovelace, she wrote the world’s first com­put­er pro­grammes for the Ana­lyt­i­cal Engine, a gen­er­al-pur­pose machine that Charles Bab­bage had invented.”

And there’s plen­ty more where that came from.

The mar­vel­lous logo shown above was cre­at­ed by Syd­ney Pad­ua and Lorin O’Brien and appears on the for­mer’s won­der­ful 2D Gog­gles com­ic web site.

Delia Der­byshire

I’ve been inter­est­ed in elec­tron­ic music for decades, and I sup­pose one of my great­est influ­ences was the BBC Radio­phon­ic Work­shop, sad­ly dis­band­ed in March 1998 dur­ing the era of the BBC “inter­nal mar­ket” under Direc­tor-Gen­er­al John Birt, when depart­ments had to oper­ate at a prof­it or close. This result­ed in absur­di­ties like it becom­ing cheap­er to nip down the street from Broad­cast­ing House to HMV in Oxford Street to buy a CD con­tain­ing a piece of music to use in a pro­gramme rather than obtain­ing the track via the BBC Record Library.

Delia Der­byshire (1937–2001) was born in Coven­try, my home town, and com­plet­ed a degree in math­e­mat­ics and music at Gir­ton Col­lege Cam­bridge. In 1959, she famous­ly applied to Dec­ca to work at their record­ing stu­dios in Broad­hurst Gar­dens, West Hamp­stead and was turned down, being told that they did­n’t employ women.

After a stint with the UN in Gene­va and with music pub­lish­er Boosey and Hawkes she joined the BBC Radio­phon­ic Work­shop in 1962, which, in those days before syn­the­sis­ers and sam­plers, was main­ly exper­i­ment­ing with musique con­crète tech­niques, involv­ing record­ing sounds from ordi­nary objects like rulers and lamp­shades and play­ing them back at dif­fer­ent speeds back­wards and for­wards, edit­ing them togeth­er into pieces of music. Below you can see Delia describ­ing her work in this respect.

Most elec­tron­ic music of the time was fair­ly abstract, but as the job of the Work­shop was to pro­vide inci­den­tal and theme music for BBC tele­vi­sion and radio pro­duc­tions, their out­put tend­ed to be a lot more melod­ic and acces­si­ble. Der­byshire is prob­a­bly best known today for her real­i­sa­tion – which amount­ed to co-com­po­si­tion – of Ron Grain­er’s theme for the Dr Who tele­vi­sion series which launched in 1963. How­ev­er one could argue that some of her oth­er work was more sig­nif­i­cant in artis­tic terms, such as her music for Bar­ry Bermange’s work on the BBC Third Pro­gramme. Over­all she pro­vid­ed themes and inci­den­tal music for over 200 radio and tele­vi­sion pro­grammes in the eleven years she worked at the BBC.

She also worked on oth­er projects out­side the Work­shop, includ­ing co-found­ing the Kalei­dophon stu­dio with David Vorhaus and fel­low Work­shop mem­ber Bri­an Hodg­son. The best-known work by this group (known as White Noise) – their first – was the sem­i­nal pop­u­lar elec­tron­ic music album An Elec­tric Storm (1968) released on Island Records. The trio also record­ed mate­r­i­al for the Stan­dard Music pro­duc­tion music library, Delia com­pos­ing under the pen-name “Li De la Russe”.

Hav­ing been away from the music scene for many years, her inter­est was rekin­dled in the late 1990s and she was work­ing on a new album when she passed away as a result of renal fail­ure while recov­er­ing from breast cancer.

You can read a fuller account of Delia Der­byshire’s life and work in this Wikipedia article.

BBC Radio 4 logoRecent­ly Mark Ayres, BBC Radio­phon­ic Work­shop Archivist, has been going through the col­lec­tion of her mate­r­i­al held at Man­ches­ter Uni­ver­si­ty. BBC Radio 4’s Archive On 4 series is pre­sent­ing a pro­gramme on this work, Sculp­tress of Sound: The Lost Works of Delia Der­byshire, which goes out on Sat­ur­day 27 March 2010 at 20:00 GMT.

March 24, 2010   Comments Off on On Delia Derbyshire for Ada Lovelace Day

Connect or Die: New Directions for the Music Industry

Here’s a bril­liant slide pre­sen­ta­tion post­ed on Slideshare by Mar­ta Kagan, who’s the man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Boston office of Espres­so, an inte­grat­ed mar­ket­ing agency based in Toron­to and Boston.

I don’t think this pre­sen­ta­tion has all the answers (none of us do, I’d sug­gest), but there are some excel­lent obser­va­tions, start­ing points and, above all, prac­ti­cal strate­gies. I made the fol­low­ing com­ment on the Slideshare page:

Excel­lent. While I might be con­cerned about the pow­er the Live Nation/Ticketmaster com­bo could have over the live envi­ron­ment, I have no doubt that the fun­da­men­tal thrust of your pre­sen­ta­tion is correct.

The chal­lenge for the major­i­ty of musi­cians work­ing today has to be ‘How do I make any mon­ey from music?’ In a world that echoes the days of the devel­op­ment of the print­ing press, where the scribes are already los­ing their jobs but nobody’s quite sure how this new print-based world will pan out, we need all the ideas we can get. We’re build­ing the new world as it hap­pens and there’s a lot to try.

For years the music indus­try has opposed new tech­nol­o­gy: its ques­tion has been ‘How can we stop peo­ple doing this?’ when it should have been, and should be, ‘How do we make mon­ey from this by giv­ing our cus­tomers what they want?’

You’ve pro­vid­ed, if not the answers to that ques­tion, at least a way towards them. Thank you!

March 22, 2010   Comments Off on Connect or Die: New Directions for the Music Industry

The Digital Economy Bill: an engineer/producer’s view

The Dig­i­tal Econ­o­my Bill now being rushed through the UK Par­lia­ment is, in my view, a dis­as­ter area of lack of under­stand­ing of the issues.

Ordi­nary peo­ple risk dis­con­nec­tion from the Inter­net — accu­rate­ly described recent­ly as “the fourth util­i­ty”, as vital as gas or elec­tric­i­ty to mod­ern life — with­out due process; sites could be blocked for legit­i­mate users because of alleged infring­ing con­tent. These are just some of the like­ly effects of the Dig­i­tal Econ­o­my Bill now being rushed through Par­lia­ment in advance of the elec­tion. And Swedish research indi­cates that mea­sures of this type do noth­ing to reduce piracy.

Pirates will imme­di­ate­ly use prox­ies and oth­er anonymis­ing meth­ods to con­tin­ue what they’re doing: only ordi­nary peo­ple will be affect­ed. It’s quite like­ly that WiFi access points like those in hotels, libraries and cof­fee shops will close down because their own­ers will not want to be held respon­si­ble for any alleged infringement.

This bill will not solve any prob­lems for the indus­try — in fact it’ll cre­ate them. Sup­pose you send a rough mix to a col­lab­o­ra­tor using a file trans­fer sys­tem like YouSendIt. It’s a music file, so pack­et snif­fers your ISP will be oblig­ed to oper­ate will, while invad­ing your pri­va­cy at the same time, encour­age the assump­tion that it’s an infringe­ment. And you may not be able to access YouSendIt in the first place because UK access has been blocked as a result of some­one else’s alleged infringements.

Sup­pose you run an inter­net radio sta­tion. In the UK that requires two licens­es, one from PRS (typ­i­cal­ly the Lim­it­ed Online Exploita­tion Licence or LOEL), and the oth­er a Web­cast­ing licence from PPL. Part of what you pay for the PPL licence is a dub­bing fee that allows you to copy com­mer­cial record­ings to a com­mon library. You might do that in “the cloud” so your DJs — who may be across the coun­try or across the world — can playlist from it, using a ser­vice like Drop­Box. How will the author­i­ties know that your music files are there legal­ly? Do you seri­ous­ly think they’ll check with PPL? Of course not. It’ll be seen as an infringe­ment, and your inter­net access could be blocked first, and ques­tions asked after­wards. You’re off the air and bang goes your busi­ness. Or you may have already lost access to your library because some­one thinks some­one else has post­ed infring­ing mate­r­i­al to the same site.

Worst of all, the bill is being rushed through Par­lia­ment with­out the debate need­ed to get prop­er­ly to grips with the issues.

The bill as it stands will threat­en the growth of a co-cre­ative dig­i­tal economy.

The indus­try bad­ly needs to review its posi­tion. We’ve known since the Warn­ers Home Tap­ing sur­vey in the ear­ly 1980s that the peo­ple who buy music are the peo­ple who share music.  In my view a busi­ness strat­e­gy that makes your cus­tomer the ene­my is not a good one.

The pop­u­la­tion at large believes that a lot of the fig­ures for ille­gal file trans­fer are con­jured out of thin air — a recent report claimed that a quar­ter of a mil­lion UK jobs in cre­ative indus­tries would be lost as a result of pira­cy where in fact there are only 130,000 at present. This does not look good.

The indus­try has a his­to­ry of tak­ing the wrong posi­tion on new tech­nol­o­gy. Gramo­phone records would kill off sheet music sales and live per­for­mance. Air­play would stop peo­ple buy­ing records (how wrong can you be?). And so on. The indus­try atti­tude to new tech­nol­o­gy seems to be “How do we stop it?” We should instead be ask­ing “How do we use this tech­nol­o­gy to make mon­ey and serve our customers?”

The indus­try is chang­ing. More and more record­ings are being made by indi­vid­u­als in small stu­dios col­lab­o­rat­ing across the world via the Inter­net. Sales are increas­ing­ly in the “Long Tail” and not in the form of smash hits from the majors. Instead of the vast major­i­ty of sales being made through a small num­ber of dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels con­trolled by half-a-dozen big record com­pa­nies, they’re increas­ing­ly being made via indi­vid­ual artists sell­ing from their web sites and at gigs; small online record com­pa­nies like; and so on. It’s impos­si­ble to count all those tiny micro-out­lets, and they are not even record­ed as sales in many cas­es — mak­ing report­ed sales small­er, which is labelled the result of pira­cy when it’s in fact an inabil­i­ty to count — yet this is exact­ly where an increas­ing pro­por­tion of sales are com­ing from. I’ve seen some research from a few years ago even sug­gest­ed that there was actu­al­ly a con­tin­u­al year-on-year rise of around 7% in music sales and not a fall at all. And indeed the lat­est offi­cial fig­ures from PRS for Music (of which I’m a mem­ber, inci­den­tal­ly) show that legal down­loads are more than mak­ing up for the loss of pack­aged media sales — and bear in mind that these num­bers may increas­ing­ly ignore the vast major­i­ty of those Long Tail outlets.

I don’t have all the answers to what we should be doing as an indus­try. It’s a time of change as fun­da­men­tal as the intro­duc­tion of the print­ing press. The scribes are out of a job — but the print­ers will do well once they get their act togeth­er. Right now we’re in between the old world and the new, and every­thing is in flux — we don’t know quite what is going to happen.

What I am sure of, how­ev­er, is that mak­ing our cus­tomers the ene­my is not the way to go. We have to find answers that use the new tech­nol­o­gy to advance our busi­ness and serve our cus­tomers, and not pre­tend that we can force the old ways to return, because if we do, we will all lose.

The Dig­i­tal Econ­o­my Bill in its cur­rent form actu­al­ly stran­gles the Dig­i­tal Econ­o­my — some­thing we need to help pull us out of reces­sion — rather than sup­port­ing it. It stems from old-age think­ing and lack of under­stand­ing of the tech­nol­o­gy and its oppor­tu­ni­ties. It should not be allowed to be rushed through Par­lia­ment. Instead it needs an enlight­ened re-write that acknowl­edges what is real­ly going on in the world and how we can make it work for us.

If you agree with me, please write to your MP and join in the oth­er pop­u­lar oppo­si­tion now tak­ing place.

March 20, 2010   Comments Off on The Digital Economy Bill: an engineer/producer’s view

Time to start work to save the BBC

The British Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion is in my view the best broad­cast­er in the world, and today it’s under attack from com­mer­cial rivals and politi­cians (pri­mar­i­ly in the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty) backed by those same rivals (notably mem­bers of the Mur­doch fam­i­ly). The BBC, in response, is propos­ing its own cut­backs in ser­vices. It’s the thin end of the wedge.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cur­rent Direc­tor Gen­er­al, Mark Thomp­son, who got the job in the wake of the Gilli­gan débâ­cle, and his col­leagues at the top of the Cor­po­ra­tion, have his­tor­i­cal­ly seemed to lack a back­bone as far as stand­ing up to crit­ics of the Cor­po­ra­tion is con­cerned. Instead of fight­ing back, in fact, the BBC and the BBC Trust seem to be tak­ing the view that when threat­ened, you should throw in the tow­el and do what the oppo­si­tion demands, how­ev­er con­tra­dic­to­ry, ill-advised or short-sight­ed. The like­ly result, it seems to me, is the emas­cu­la­tion of the Cor­po­ra­tion and the degrad­ing of a mag­nif­i­cent insti­tu­tion, the envy of the world.

In addi­tion, offer­ing to make cuts is the thin end of the wedge. Just as the skim­ming off of the licence fee to fund dig­i­tal switchover pro­vid­ed a prece­dent for skim­ming for oth­er pur­pos­es, so a deci­sion to make vol­un­tary (or invol­un­tary) cuts pro­vides a prece­dent for more cuts. We already know the Tories want to dis­mem­ber the BBC, and this is just start­ing their dirty work for them.

The Mur­doch fam­i­ly, con­scious that the world of news­pa­pers is chang­ing dra­mat­i­cal­ly, want to try and halt the tide of change rather than going with it and see­ing what new inno­va­tions they can come up with. It’s rather like the record com­pa­nies try­ing to hold back change by mak­ing their cus­tomer the ene­my. Both will fail. How­ev­er, the Mur­dochs may cause exten­sive col­lat­er­al dam­age before they realise this, and nowhere is this of more con­cern to me than in the case of the BBC.

Thus it is that today the BBC Trust has pub­lished a Strat­e­gy Review for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion. It rec­om­mends clos­ing BBC Radio 6 Music and the BBC Asian Net­work, reduc­ing the con­tent of the BBC Web Site — one of the most pop­u­lar in the world — by 25%, and oth­er mea­sures. You can find the actu­al review itself here. You can also read the com­men­tary of the BBC Chair­man, Michael Lyons, on the review.

We licence pay­ers have the abil­i­ty to com­ment on the pro­pos­als, and I rec­om­mend that you do so. This can be done via an online sur­vey which asks a series of ques­tions based on the proposals.

If you are con­cerned as I am about the pro­pos­als, I also urge you to sign the peti­tion at Peti­tions have swayed the BBC in the past. There is also a peti­tion at 38 Degrees.

I thought I would include here my answers to the ques­tions posed in the Online Con­sul­ta­tion ques­tion­naire. I hope you find them of inter­est. I’ve also writ­ten some addi­tion­al com­ments on the sit­u­a­tion in the Trans­d­if­fu­sion Medi­a­Blog.

BBC Strat­e­gy Review: My Response

The BBC’s strate­gic principles

Do you think these are the right principles?

The only thing I am con­cerned about is “Doing few­er things”. Why do few­er things? In par­tic­u­lar the web site is a mar­vel­lous resource and worth every pen­ny. The BBC should be doing unique things that nobody else can be both­ered to do, and the web site is one such. Radio 6 Music is another.

The BBC needs to offer qual­i­ty and orig­i­nal­i­ty, and the web site, Radio 6 Music and the Asian Net­work deliv­er these.

Should the BBC have any oth­er strate­gic principles?

The fun­da­men­tal Rei­thi­an prin­ci­ples of “Inform, Edu­cate and Enter­tain” still work well in today’s envi­ron­ment. The BBC has a duty to deliv­er these to the pub­lic that pays for it. That means adopt­ing new tech­nolo­gies and new deliv­ery meth­ods, and giv­ing them the fund­ing they need to do the job well.

The BBC is in a lose/lose sit­u­a­tion in that if it pro­duces pop­u­lar pro­gram­ming, com­mer­cial rivals will moan that it sti­fles com­pe­ti­tion. If it pro­duces high-qual­i­ty and orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming that attracts rel­a­tive­ly few view­ers and lis­ten­ers, peo­ple will say it’s wast­ing money.

Thus the BBC needs to unequiv­o­cal­ly com­mit itself to qual­i­ty and orig­i­nal­i­ty and make it clear that by mak­ing the pro­grammes the com­mer­cial com­peti­tors will not make, it is bound to lose view­ers and lis­ten­ers, and that this is an inevitable con­se­quence of such a strat­e­gy. Thus crit­i­cism of the size of view­ing and lis­ten­ing audi­ences must be ruled as irrel­e­vant and this must be made per­fect­ly clear.

Pro­posed prin­ci­ple: Putting Qual­i­ty First

Which BBC out­put do you think could be high­er quality?

There are broad areas where a chan­nel or sta­tion could offer “high­er qual­i­ty”, but pri­mar­i­ly by drop­ping pro­gram­ming of a low­est com­mon denom­i­na­tor nature. One could argue that gen­er­al enter­tain­ment pro­gram­ming with very expen­sive celebri­ties, for exam­ple, or real­i­ty shows (were the BBC to con­sid­er doing them in the future), can be left to the com­mer­cial sta­tions. That does­n’t mean that the out­put of the BBC in these areas is not of “high qual­i­ty”, but that the types of pro­gram­ming them­selves are not orig­i­nal or of high quality.

Offer­ing you some­thing special

Which areas should the BBC make more dis­tinc­tive from oth­er broad­cast­ers and media?

Celebri­ty chat shows and real­i­ty TV are not dis­tinc­tive. Any­one can do them.

Fac­tu­al pro­gram­ming is a par­tic­u­lar area where the BBC already is dis­tinc­tive, and this can be improved by tak­ing advan­tage of the fact, for exam­ple, that there are no com­mer­cial breaks, and thus no per­ceived need for inces­sant recaps. The audi­ence can be treat­ed as intel­li­gent and giv­en a well-paced sto­ry, with­out hav­ing to be remind­ed of past points all the time or tak­ing three steps for­ward and two back on each subtopic.

The BBC Web site and its range of ser­vices is dis­tinc­tive and unlike any oth­er offer­ing, with its broad spec­trum of news, com­ment, infor­ma­tion and blogs. This needs to be devel­oped fur­ther and take full advan­tage of new technology.

Sta­tions like Radio 6 music, Radio 3 and Radio 4 offer dis­tinc­tive pro­gram­ming and music that can­not be heard else­where. Radio 3 is noth­ing like Clas­sic FM, for exam­ple. There should be more spe­cial­ist pro­gram­ming not less.

In gen­er­al, the BBC is not being dis­tinc­tive when it pro­duces pro­gram­ming sim­i­lar to that found on com­mer­cial sta­tions and chan­nels. The BBC’s strengths include fac­tu­al and doc­u­men­tary pro­gram­ming, high qual­i­ty mod­ern and peri­od dra­ma, link­ing into new tech­nol­o­gy such as the web site and iPlay­er, and music radio that escapes from the mainstream.

The Five Edi­to­r­i­al Priorities

Do these pri­or­i­ties fit with your expec­ta­tions of BBC TV, radio and online services? 

Yes, they do.

Pro­posed prin­ci­ple: Doing few­er things and doing them better

We wel­come your views on these areas.

Clos­ing Radio 6 Music and the Asian Net­work are in direct con­flict with the goal of “Offer­ing some­thing spe­cial”. While one might argue that ulti­mate­ly there should be no need for an “Asian Net­work” as a sep­a­rate enti­ty, we are not there yet.

How­ev­er in par­tic­u­lar when con­sid­er­ing Radio 6 Music, this kind of ser­vice — a ser­vice that a com­mer­cial broad­cast­er would not con­sid­er offer­ing — is exact­ly the kind of thing the BBC should be doing and clos­ing it runs con­trary to pre­vi­ous­ly-stat­ed criteria.

In addi­tion, radio is cheap — you could close BBC 3 and save a dozen spe­cial­ist radio stations.

The BBC Web site is also fine as it is. I enjoy the breadth and depth of cov­er­age, which is unmatched by oth­er oper­a­tors, not because the com­pe­ti­tion is sti­fled but because the com­pe­ti­tion sim­ply can­not be both­ered to do it this well.

I do not regard lim­it­ing the scope of the BBC web site as being in line with prin­ci­ples of excel­lence, orig­i­nal­i­ty or pub­lic ser­vice. We pay for the BBC and we have a right to the best pos­si­ble ser­vice from it.

Arguably, nobody could do a web site bet­ter — it is one of the most pop­u­lar in the entire world. Restrict­ing its scope comes across as a knee-jerk response to crit­i­cism and not in line with stat­ed strate­gic goals.

I would like to see BBC local radio remain local­ly gen­er­at­ed as far as pos­si­ble. There are plen­ty of peo­ple who would vol­un­teer to pro­duce and present local­ly-based pro­gram­ming out­side dri­ve time giv­en access to BBC resources, for example.

I do not have par­tic­u­lar views on oth­er areas men­tioned in this section.

Pro­posed prin­ci­ple: Guar­an­tee­ing access to BBC services

If you have par­tic­u­lar views on how you expect BBC ser­vices to be avail­able to you, please let us know.

I do not have any par­tic­u­lar views on this sec­tion at present.

The BBC archive

Please tell us if you have views on this area.

The BBC is the great­est broad­cast­er in the world and it has a his­to­ry of pro­gram­ming stretch­ing back to the 1920s. In the past dread­ful sac­ri­fices have been made in the name of cost-effec­tive­ness that have result­ed in price­less cov­er­age of inter­na­tion­al events, unique dra­ma and oth­er pro­gram­ming being irre­triev­ably lost. Much of BBC cov­er­age of the Apol­lo XI mis­sion was taped over for example.

Main­tain­ing a com­pre­hen­sive BBC Archive is vital going for­ward and the mis­takes of the past, result­ing in irre­triev­able loss of our cul­tur­al her­itage, must not be repeat­ed in the future. We need to save the unique pro­gram­ming and out­put for our­selves and for future generations.

In addi­tion to being archived, pro­gram­ming should be avail­able to the pub­lic online and/or via viewing/listening envi­ron­ments like those offered by the BFI.

Pro­posed prin­ci­ple: Mak­ing the licence fee work harder

If you are con­cerned about the BBC’s val­ue for mon­ey, please tell us why.

I have no spe­cif­ic views on this beyond sug­gest­ing that as far as salaries, expens­es and sim­i­lar areas of expen­di­ture are con­cerned, I expect the Cor­po­ra­tion always to be aware of cost and to nego­ti­ate the best pos­si­ble deal. I expect con­tracts and expens­es, for exam­ple, to be at lev­els gen­er­al­ly regard­ed as stan­dard in the industry.

Pro­posed prin­ci­ple: Set­ting new bound­aries for the BBC

Do you think that the BBC should lim­it its activ­i­ties in these areas?


Just because your com­mer­cial com­peti­tors say you should or should­n’t be doing some­thing does­n’t mean that you should lis­ten to them or that they are talk­ing sense.

Clos­ing 6 Music reduces the out­put of unique orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming and runs counter to oth­er strate­gic goals. It also saves only a tiny bit of mon­ey in real terms.

Reduc­ing pur­chas­es of over­seas dra­mas is not a valid deci­sion if you are intent on offer­ing audi­ences the best. There are some areas of dra­ma where no UK pro­duc­tion can match the qual­i­ty of pro­gram­ming made over­seas, notably in the USA. Deny­ing BBC view­ers high qual­i­ty con­tent sim­ply because it was­n’t made here is absurd.

Equal­ly, there are areas where the BBC is sec­ond to none, and I am sure the Cor­po­ra­tion does its best to sell these shows over­seas and thus facil­i­tate addi­tion­al ser­vices with­out requir­ing an increase in the licence fee.

Reduc­ing the scope of the BBC web­site makes no sense at all in terms of qual­i­ty of ser­vice cri­te­ria. The web site as it stands offers a unique ser­vice that is unpar­al­leled, not because com­pe­ti­tion is sti­fled but because nobody can be both­ered to try. It is a unique ser­vice, just like, say, the Guardian’s online offer­ings. In dif­fer­ent ways, I am hap­py to pay for both.

The BBC sets the stan­dards here and in many oth­er areas. Because the BBC had an orig­i­nal, bril­liant idea does­n’t mean to say that they have to give it up because the com­mer­cial boys did­n’t think of it them­selves or see how they could make mon­ey from it.

I see no rea­son why the BBC should restrict or reduce its local offer­ings. Nobody else is going to do it, what­ev­er they say. There is lit­tle or no mon­ey to be made there but there is a ser­vice that can be pro­vid­ed. Pub­lic ser­vice is part of the BBC’s remit. I do not have views on oth­er pro­pos­als in this section.

Should any oth­er areas be on this list?

I would seri­ous­ly con­sid­er whether BBC 3 meets cri­te­ria for qual­i­ty and orig­i­nal­i­ty. The few orig­i­nal pro­grammes would be entire­ly appro­pri­ate on BBC 2 or per­haps BBC 4 for example.

My fun­da­men­tal view is that there are no areas of ser­vice that the BBC pro­vides that I am not hap­py to pay for. How­ev­er if you are intent on mak­ing cuts, then clos­ing BBC3 would save quite a num­ber of radio stations.

March 2, 2010   Comments Off on Time to start work to save the BBC