Telling it like it is

James Cridland has an excellent post (Mark Ramsey. Grr) extolling US broadcasters to look beyond their shores and admonishing tech enthusiast to stop decrying the death of a medium they love.

Both are long overdue.

First it’s increasingly a global world with (forgive me) a world of great ideas. And those ideas are easy to find. I first became aware of the possibilities of merging on-air and online from a pod cast of Tom Coates (BBC at the time) describing their application of SMS to a radio call in show way back in June of 2005. I’ve never looked at radio the same since.

Would it have worked in the US at the time – possibly not because US SMS rates are far below UK rates – even now. But it could have been tried. And that’s indicative of the problem. While Europe (and I understand Asia) are hot beds of experimentation the US is stuck in templates and largely static sites.

The issue is that as IP technologies are adopted by media companies it becomes increasingly easy for each to invade the turf of others – and the marginal cost for doing this is approximately zero while the benefits huge. We are entering a period where there is a glut of content and this shifts the power to consumers (see an excellent overview of Media Economics by Umair Haque).

At the same time advertisers are beginning to re-align their spending – moving both online and switching to new mediums if they provide better targeting or reporting. As an example here a newspaper guy (Rob Curley) talks about going after radio and TV advertisers with multimedia additions to the paper website.

This is not the time for complacency – and James is right – we do our readers a disservice if we don’t scour the world for innovative approaches.

James also talks about DAB vs HD. Here too we need a global industry view. First the economics – consumer electronic manufactures are a pretty ruthless bunch – they may add one receiver but they’re sure not going to add 3 – and without users clamoring for them they won’t pick up the design, approval and management cost for national variants. We need to get back to something relatively common – and that should be DAB – not just because it’s growing in Europe and Asia – but its ability to handle multimedia makes it a much more powerful platform for the next generation of radio than HD.

Finally regarding the moaning – that’s a function of inaction by management not belief from the enthusiasts. The same thing is happening in newspapers and TV – except in those organizations who’ve said – Yes – and they are all invigorated by the opportunity and promise that the IP technologies bring to traditional media.

Thanks James – it was long overdue.