Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A Converging World

In another indication that the traditional linear media world is trying to keep up with pace of change, BBC Three, the BBC’s youth entertainment TV station, announced a new raft of programme and policy changes last week.

Alongside new programmes, (some of which sound pretty good actually – but we’ll wait to see them first!), according to the press release, BBC Three is set to become the first non-news BBC channel to transform from a linear service to a fully joined-up, multi-platform venture – a space in which all forms of content can live seamlessly across TV and online. Sounds good.

Programmes will be simulcast across television and the web. They’ll be a commitment to placing innovative, interactive ideas at the heart of key programmes with high production values placed on online content. User-generated content will be integrated into the heart of the peak-time schedule too. Quite a nice idea is that viewers will be able to upload clips of themselves introducing their favourite BBC Three programmes. I like that.

BBC Three controller Danny Cohen believes that this will allow the audience to have a sense of ownership over BBC Three through unique cross-platform presentation techniques. Danny says: "The thinking behind this re-brand of the channel is that we have, in effect, created a BBC Three world in which our content can move seamlessly between TV, online and mobile. We have a fantastic line-up of programmes and we are going to make them available wherever young people want them."

What can radio learn from this? Well, as is well documented, the relationship between the traditional content generators and ‘the audience’ has changed irrevocably due to the availability of the means of production. Therefore rather than fight it, embrace it! Radio stations, particularly those aimed at the younger markets, should ensure that content can work on lots of platforms and has extensions in those areas. Is the morning show filming all the best interviews and sticking them on YouTube? Do memorable moments or catchphrases from the show become available as downloads or ringtones? Do listeners feel they have an open door to provide you with content? Of course the balance needs to be right and I'd be hesitant to just hand over the airwaves to listeners completely, but there needs to be an aknowledgement that the world of radio is changing too.

In a converging media world, “radio” is even more about creating great, multi-platform content. Let’s not get hung up on the old world view of what a radio programme was or should be. Let’s embrace the technology as much as we can and see where it takes us.

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