Photo: Library of Congress. Public Domain.
Confirmed this morning – I’m off to the BBC/TechCrunch debate next week.
Mike Butcher has focused the discussion on the BBC as a common platform – i.e.:
Steve Bowbrick, who is chairing the debate, and I have subtitled the debate ‘a common platform’ which is a phrase that seems to suggest the potential for the Corporation (and other players like 4ip) to build a shared space for citizens, organisations, institutions and businesses to use.
Steve Bowbrick has a blog post which deals with this in more detail:
So what I’m talking about is building a big, generous, accommodating public platform that runs code and community and content – making life easier for creators and communities in Britain. A kind of giant shared computer that exposes useful assets like public data, educational content, archives and library catalogues, health data and democratic and community tools… The whole range of useful and enabling content and services that comes from state providers like the BBC, the Ordnance Survey and the Public Records Office and also the good stuff that comes from the commercial and third sectors.
On the panel is Azeem Azahar who wrote previously about a BBC Public License – which would:
* Use BBC content, build on it, add value, build audiences and personal relationships with it;
* Use BBC code, improve on it, make a business from it, give spin-offs from it away or sell them;
* Use BBC services to develop digital society, because the BBC can provide things that the market can’t;
Photo: Philippa Willitts. Used under licence.
These ideas are along the lines of the digital commons concept I was proposing:
I floated a few ideas (in the New Ideas Symposium and the Innovation Forum) in my days at the BBC.
Their essence lay in the fact that the BBC, historically, had been given a slice of scarce spectrum and in return provided a public service, but that in the digital era where spectrum was plentiful the BBC needed to focus and seek to act like a “commons” and provide an area where people could gather and share ideas and thoughts openly and creatively, with the BBC adding to the discussion (not seeking to lead). Part of this required a re-imagining of what the licence fee funded/was for.
As it stands people equate the licence fee with paying for the BBC, whereas I was agitating for a digital licence to fund content creation and for the BBC to offer a commons area where this content could be shared freely. The main intent was to move away from the idea being of funding access to an individual playout device – the television – and to be seen to be an organisation that simply made its content available to the nation, who could creatively use it after that.
I don’t think the licence fee is a bad way to fund the BBC (as long as the BBC keeps to it’s public service remit!) but I do think that it has got conflated with simply funding television viewing and as such it needs to be “replaced” and a new digital licence introduced with a new mission statement of what the BBC does.
I’m looking forward to this debate as it may be the birthplace for some interesting ideas!
Image: NASA. Public Domain.