This is among the few conference where I am learning a lot. If you thought that the newspaper people were in the grips of a siege mentality, you should come and see the public radio and TV people. The difference is that it seems that the opportunities of capitalizing on the community for these public broadcaster are much more than say newspapers….but it will certainly not be achieved by being defensive. That’s why I was a bit critical of Alisa Miller’s speech this morning. And that’s what I talked about in our panel later this after…Mark Fuerst, the organizer of this conference, summed up our session very well in the official IMA blog. Here’s what I talked about: “The pubcasters were making a mistake by looking down our collective nose at commercial social networking sites. The benefit of social networking, he explained, is in the eye of the user, not in the intention of the network site manager. Ali also suggested a proposition that all of us should take to heart: people like Gather.com (and others) are going to build on the social networks that are embedded in the audiences for public broadcasting. In his view, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s going to happen. The question is: who’s going to own those properties and benefit from enabling those relationships. If we (pubcasters) don’t do it, someone else will.” That is the biggest challenge.
The other issue which I learned about was the tension in the relationships between the top organizations like NPR and PBS, and the local affiliates, very much on the lines of what’s happening in the network TV industry (only in the former case, “revenues” get replaced by “funding”). These tensions are of course related to digital media, and who will lead the efforts, and how should they be presented. From what I heard, organizations like NPR and PBS are arguing that there should be a centralized aggregation effort, a bit like a destination site…while the affiliates resist these moves and want to make their own local sites as the destination sites.
There’s iTunes, which for now is publicasters’ best friend, but a friend who could turn off the spigot anytime, at least conceptually.
Among one such centralized, or at least aggregated efforts that I heard about at the conference today was from the Open Media Network, the former-Netscaper Mike Homer-backed open media effort…a public media client using the OMN service/system (of course, will help Homer’s other commercial effort, P2P service provider Kontiki, which is already powering BBC’s IMP online video efforts). Not sure how that will be received by the industry, or how neutral that solution is…maybe distributed aggregation is the way to go.