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BBC, YouTube in non-event deal

Edging closer to becoming a world-wide media player, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation for those not in the know) have forged a ‘ground-breaking deal’ with Google subsidiary, YouTube. Here’s the real news: the BBC are hoping to spike YouTube with higher-quality snippets of near-disposible video as a means of kicking out the lower-quality crap taking up disk space. This deal is neither historic nor ground-breaking. It’s just money begetting more money, all of which is largely at the expense of the British tax payer, who incidentally are footing the bill for all of this.

OK, rant over .. for now.

YouTube will lap this sort of thing up all day long, and the BBC get to post video clips to promote our content.

Yawn!

Double yawn!

Feel free to read BBC’s own news story which looks suspiciously like a press release to me.

However, in fairness to the BBC, they do make a decent fist of impartiality, even if it is only given a short airing:

“But the deal is likely to be controversial with other media companies, who have accused the BBC of straying from its licence-fee funded public service remit and moving too far into commercial web ventures.”

And this is what the BBC have been building towards for some time. Just look at their various web properties. They have a formidable portfolio of on-line resources that rival any in the world.

But what pisses the British public off more than anything is the escalating cost of the license fee and the seemingly ever-decreasing quality of the content being pumped out. Now, there are notable exceptions to this. After all, the BBC’s principle successful exports over the years have been wildlife documentaries and comedies.

But the day-to-day TV viewing is wall-to-wall soaps, docudramas, fly-on-the-wall voyeuristic reality TV, cookery programs, DIY & home make-over shows, soaps, reality TV and more cookery programs .. oh, and soaps.

And still I hear people from the US who’re resident over here tell me that TV in Britain is much better than in the US. Which might explain why they’re living over here.

What I want from a more progressive BBC is them using the money they’re earning from advertising – which incidentally, you don’t get on BBC TV over here – to lower the damned license fee:

“The news channel, which will be launched later this year, will show about 30 news clips per day. It will be advertising funded like a similar deal with Yahoo USA. BBC News is also offered to non-UK subscribers of Real Networks.”

Yes, I’d like to see some of that revenue used to subsidize the huge fees we pay.

No one ever lost their job for buying IBM

“IBM and the BBC have announced wide-ranging plans to work together on a number of projects, including image / video searches of BBC content, and a trial of Siemens’ Media Hub technology. The plan, especially with IBM’s Marvel image / video search technology, is for the BBC to be able to monetize its vast archives of older content.”

The video archive that the BBC have is formidable. Certainly on a par with the likes of Pathé, for example. And quite recently, the BBC opened much of their video media archive to the likes of you & me.

However, for all of IBM’s considerable smarts, there are clearly some kinks to knock out before the final product is fit for human consumption:

“It seems to think that TV personality Chris Matthews is somehow associated with boats, ships, and buildings, all of which are more exciting than Chris Matthews himself. Perky chef Rachael Ray, on the other hand, is associated with the concepts ‘Animal,’ ‘Vegetation,’ ‘Mountain,’ and ‘Natural Disaster.’ I look forward to seeing what Marvel thinks about the denizens of Fraggle Rock.”

As for the Seimens’ Media Hub technology thing, I can’t make any sense of that. Looks like witchcraft to me.

As the BBC move forward, the pressures to go fully commercial are going to become irresistible. And the charter that defines the scope and the agenda of the BBC might become a vestigial affair as commercial pressures and interests press more firmly and more considerably than the will to remain focused on uninterrupted, advert-free scheduling…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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