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Post-Interview Report to Participants

Categories: Drivers, Funding, General, Governance, Interviews
Date: 24 July 2008
Contributors:

Drivers

The Participants

From January to March 2008 I was engaged in interviewing 18 of the 20 current participants/partners in the project. The full list of current participants is:

[Ross Gibson  comments in Red]

(*Partner and Participant)

Lesley Osborne was not interviewed but Giles Tanner was, as a founding contributor to the project. John Maynard was unavailable as he is preparing a major feature film.

The Interviews

The interviews were all focussed on the five key influences identified by the forums: people, content, funding, technology and governance. The order in which those were addressed differed in each case. There were not expected to be, nor were there, insights into every influence by each interviewee.

The purpose of the interviews was to give each participant an extended opportunity to explore some of her/his own thinking about the future. In so doing, to give the research team some real insights into building the rationales for the scenarios.

Each of the interviewees stressed the excitement that an interconnected multiplatform world brings with it, particularly for creativity, social engagement, professional use and learning. Concerns were primarily to do with devising means of ensuring the best outcomes, of ensuring that valuable content does not disappear and of developing effective funding models.

The range of responses was fascinating and has provided a multiplicity of ideas for future scenarios.

I started each interview asking participants to reflect on the last 8-10 years and to tell me what had truly surprised them. Responses included

Implicit in many of the overall responses is the addictive nature of new media: an addiction more powerful than many had expected.
Addictiveness, of course, is digital media’s huge threat to traditional Television which, until recently, has itself been the most addictive of media. E-ecstasy overwhelming TV-tranquiliser, perhaps, as the internet’s constant offer of surprise feeds the addiction. RG sees it as distraction (with some degree of forensics) & responsiveness & heuristics (ie ‘Has my signal caused any response yet?’ — the urge for connectedness) taking over from entertainment (ie ‘I’m happy to be held in suspension’.)

The Influences

“People” heuristics & community / conviviality / tribal care / communities of enthusiasm raised great riches and one significant pointer for the whole shape of our scenarios. The riches included:

The significant pointer is this:

Content

Other issues

Some noted that Content must be taken to include advertising, given that it will now be increasingly woven into “programming” on every platform.

There were also two potential “strategic negatives”: journalism and privacy… and one strategic question mark, Public Service broadcasting.

Several participants expressed concern about the future of quality journalism. Apart from anything else it’s useful reminder to keep looking OUTSIDE audio-visual media for answers to the future of Television. Even more than traditional TV, Newspapers are seeing their business models decline in the face of the web. Newspapers are at the heart of quality journalism and Television relies on the print press to deliver an enormous number of its story ideas and to train journalists at all levels. As, of course, does the Web.

If the Press is compelled to reduce its investment in quality journalism then television will suffer and more particularly some of the vital underpinnings of our civil, democratic society will be jeopardised. As long as news media continue to be free on the web, this is likely to become an increasingly serious issue.

Privacy is signalled as a serious strategic issue as well. Finding individual consumers and understanding their tastes and activities means discovering far more about individual citizens than is currently the case. This is a two-edged sword and we may well see serious consumer push-back at being directly targeted.

Public Broadcasting may be the signal beneficiary of media changes over the next ten years or may be the victim. Interesting to consider a globalisation of the basic role of public broadcasting which, to misappropriate the words of Andrzej Wajda, is “to forge a civil society out of an anonymous crowd”.

Funding

Needless to say, this area weaves in and out of both “content” and “governance”. There were a range of valuable pointers and insights, including:

Governance

Again there were many issues. This heading may still be too inexplicit as it captures so much, but inter alia participants were interested in:

Summary

First, I have not included Technology because the research group is only now coming to grips with the issue. It’s complex because it impacts every other heading and the issue for our scenarios will be to define what assumptions about technology we are actually making.

The above headings collate only a handful of the issues raised and Participants will also receive summaries of the individual interviews. It is clear that they are delivering invaluable content for the scenario building process.

The majority of Participants have also produced their own versions of “A Day in 2018”, intended as a more light-hearted insight into possibilities. They open more lines of thought, just as they add some real sense of personality to the influences.

We could not have achieved any of this without the ongoing advice and input of each of the Participants. On behalf of the Research group, real thanks to each of you.