BBC archive to be online?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

I use the question mark in the above headline advisedly. You see, the world and her husband are busy getting excited about the fact that Greg Dyke has said that the BBC intends to put its massive archive online, for free.

I find it interesting that he makes no reference to the massive, complicated issue of artists’ rights that doing this would involve. The BBC already lets you listen to recently broadcast radio shows online, but only allows it for a limited period, because of issues with artists’ rights. Until the Beeb has negotiated some sort of sea change in the way actors and presenters are paid for their work, it’ll be a long time before we see Mr Dyke’s pledge coming true.

Indeed, most of the current negotiations in the field are for the release of BBC DVDs and CDs. Can you really see our state-funded broadcaster giving up that additional revenue stream so easily?

One promise to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt, I think.

Significantly more positive takes on the situation can be found at Hangingday[Link Dead] and Oblomovka [via Population: One]. All make good point but I still think they’ve let themselves get carried away by the possibilities, rather than the huge obstacles. I’m not going to treat this seriously until we hear how the BBC has resolved the actors’ residual fees issue, or announced that only a tiny, limited selection of the archive will be available.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 25. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.