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Why The BBC Just Does Not Get It

Posted on February 27th, 2012 Written on michael's blog


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LONDON: This week we're running the Guardian Media Academy here, but also voraciously consuming the local newspapers.

England has the best newspaper environment in the world, Internet or not.

An article in the FT caught my attention this morning.

It is by John Humphrys, who is a very well-known presenter on Radio4 on The BBC.

The BBC is moving their entire broadcast operation to Solford, in Manchester - a massive move, and leaving behind both White City and Broadcasting House, the former homes of the beeb. They are also leaving behind a pile of old techonlogy which now, as Humphrys writes, 'seem as enticing as a Spam sandwich'.

Unfortunately, the new technology toward which The BBC is moving (and at massive cost) is perhaps a Spam sandwich on a baguette.

Technology moves fast, and few technologies have moved as rapidly as video and television technology.

Probably, when the idea of a new Broadcasting House in Manchester was raised and decided upon (probably a decade ago), this all seemed a good idea.

Today, I think it's more than a bit anachronistic.

The whole notion of 'buildings', studios, offices, secretaries, meetings, coffee bars, conference rooms, edit suites and so on seem to me to be a bit (maybe more than a bit) crazy - not to mention a massive waste of time and money.   The move to Solford means schlepping (as we say in the UK) thousands of people up to Manchester - forcing them to sell their houses, uproot, take their kids of out school so that they can physically get in their cars in the morning and drive to the studios and offices in Solford to... well, to do what, exactly?  

To hang their coats on the backs of their chairs to ... make video?

That's something anyone can do from home, or anywhere else for that matter.

The whole idea of 'going to the office' is a left-over from the 20th Century.

The building, the carpeting, the desks, the lights, the security guards, the assistants, the phones..... it's all unnecessary.

It's not only unnecessary, it is an impediment to getting the job (and the job is making the content) done.

The content can be made from anywhere, at any time (not 9-5), and it should be made from everywhere.

It can live in the cloud - not in some basement videotape library.

The whole thing smacks of 20th Century thinking.... 

YouTube has more than 56 billion videos posted from all over the world, seen by 2 billion people daily.

Anyone been to The YouTube Building?

YouTube adds 40 hours of content every minute.

By contrast, The BBC takes about 9 months to make a few hours.

It doesn't have to.

It could take its very talented people and meld them to the YouTube way of working.

YouTube is a lot of cats in trees. But the architecture is very attractive.

The BBC is very high quality content, but the building and the carpeting are the cats in trees of architecture (in the structural sense).

At the end of the piece, Humphrys writes The BBC is striving to put everything in one great 'digital folder'.

That's a great concept.

But a digital folder does not start with a metal filing cabinet.

For all their words, they still don't get it

Too bad.