It’s midday here in Seoul and the first keynote of the 2007 BCWW International Conference is under our belt. Arne Wessberg, president of the International Institute of Communications, started by pointing out the coincidence of his speaking at a conference on “Driving Content Evolution in the Digital World” the same week that his home country Finland switches off analog TV. As befits an opening keynote, Wessberg raised a number of issues:
Fragmented audience: Analog limited the number of free channels and concentrated the audience. The switch to digital means the audience for the new channels will be smaller and there is a risk of being reduced to what Wessberg called “niche” channels.
Programming: Wessberg: “The increased number of television channels has not resulted in a corresponding amount of original production.” He attributes that, in part, to the increased amount of international media ownership. Shifting that will take effort. The message he wants to get across: “There will always be a need for good stories to be told.” The lower costs of digital should make that kind of programming more possible.
Value of content: It’s not really apples to apples but Wessberg offers the News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) acquisition of Dow Jones at a price 9 times that paid for MySpace as an example of how valuable traditional media can be. He views the difference as “access to the trusted brand of the Wall Street Journal.”
Dealmaking: Wessberg reeled off a list of traditional media online investments, partnerships, acquisitions. “The rationale behind the intensity of deal making is the seemingly unstoppable growth in online usage.”
TV online: Citing CBS as an example, Wessberg said there is already evidence that broadcasters going online are seeing increased viewership of their networks. ” He added, “It