Various events earlier in the summer gave the BBC the chance to parade their plans to digitise their entire back archive of televisual material. (Although it’s interesting to note there is little info on this on the BBC site itself, particularly on its archive pages).
The plans are not new. Back in 2006, there were reports about this as well.
As often happens when the BBC gets involved, other providers are might be a little nervous about the effect of this.
With the power of the BBC brand and its related marketing strength, and the undoubted brilliance of technologies like the iPlayer, does this not mean that all users, irrespective of background, go straight to the BBC for their video content, rendering the offerings of other content providers somewhat useless?
Other content providers, such as JISC-funded projects like Newsfilm Online or InView will certainly have to work harder at persuading users to visit their site. However, compelling reasons do exist for getting those users to come.
- Comparative video – for instance, InView (due to launch in Spring 2009) is providing comparative videos, which allow users to see how different media outlets have covered the same historical event – something the BBC obviously cannot do by itself.
- Unique content– Newsfilm Online (the full version of which is due to launched on October 3 2008) will have content simply unavailable to the BBC. To choose at random – news items relating to Bird Flu, the Twin Towers attack or, from early Gaumont Screen reels, highlights from England Australia cricket matches, and also film rushes which never made it to the TV screen.
- NewsFilm Online will also provide a different editorial viewpoint, delivering content from media sources such as ITN and Reteurs, rather than the Beeb.
- Both the JISC-funded projects will be making their content freely available to the HE and FE communities, not just for streaming but to download, remix and re-edit. The flexibility to allow users to do what they want with such video clips is vital if users are to exploit the resources in as many ways as possible.
- It’s also worth remembering that the BBC, however impartial, sees the world via a British lens. Perspectives from other countries are supplied by digitisation projects by the National Archives in the United States, or various national bodies in the Netherlands, France or Norway.
- Additionally, the BBC is more news-focussed, and, although the BBC seems to represent a huge mass of content, it is only a drop in the ocean of what could be digitised and made available online.
- So for example, the Performance Shakespeare collection, which is part of Film and Sound Online and the Arts on Film Archive can focus on performing arts content not readily available from the BBC archives.
So that all goes to show there are plenty of reasons for users to work with video content beyond that made available via the BBC (which it should not be forgotten is only talking about these plans for digitisation at the moment).
But other content providers need to have focussed marketing and communications plans to ensure users are aware of this.