New BBC Chair: Embrace the Net

In his first speech since getting the job, the new chairman of the BBC, Michael Grade warned broadcasters and programme makers that they could end up with the same piracy problems as the music industry unless they acted immediately and used the internet to distribute their content.

He said in the speech: “If I was a major content owner, I would be looking at what has happened to the music industry and I’d be very concerned. The lessons are you can’t be arrogant enough to believe any of the distribution methods available are going to win out. You have to play them all. I’d be availing myself of every possible opportunity to distribute my content and I’d let the consumer decide.”

Greg Dyke made noises about opening up the BBC archive last year, but there has been no further movement. Grade did not give any details on how the BBC hope to avoid the fate he was warning about. BBC Worldwide has been experimenting with digital delivery for the past couple of years now, but is mostly interested in using streaming to preview programmes to potential broadcasters, with its BBC Preview and Motion Gallery projects.

BBC News on Grade’s speech

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?