Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Broadband Content Coalition


  The Broadband Content Coalition (BCC), in existence since 2001, is an independent industry body made up of like minded firms who all agree on one simple fact, that the take off of Broadband in the UK is dependent upon content and the services that are built from this content—the focus of Broadband investment now needs to shift in that direction!

  It is our aim to act in an advisory capacity to both UK government and industry alike, utilising the experience of our members to shine a light on the confused state of broadband in the UK and how we think the winning formulas will be developed. The BCC offers advice and guidance and consultancy services to support emerging broadband companies and markets through its individual member companies or consortia.

  The coalition is managed jointly by Chris Hart ( and Sandip Sarda ( both innovators in Market Strategies, New Technologies and New Media, and highly experienced in broadband, multimedia and content from practical experiences in the UK and International markets with PTTs, corporate, SME, residential, Government and Educational organisations.


  New Media, supported by broadband and the mass take-up of the internet will potentially spawn new and undreamed of applications and industries.

  Past experience points to the uncertainties of predicting future markets and technologies (eg "the paperless office"—"electronic newspapers and books"—"3G") and to the un-see able successes (eg "SMS", "mobile phones", "P2P Services"). It is also clear that the established practices and market flows supporting "traditional" industries do not eventually protect them from the massive changes offered by new technologies—(eg the demise of the canals; the disappearance of secretaries; the disappearance of "snail mail").

  At this point in the evolution of markets and technologies surrounding the adoption and exploitation of New Media we believe that it is critical that governments should encourage and nurture these emerging media industries. We believe that undue regulation favouring the existing "media" industries whose business models are anyway under threat and change (by usual market forces) could stifle this evolution in the UK.


    —  The impact upon creative industries of recent and future developments in digital convergence and media technology, unauthorised reproduction and dissemination of creative content, the regulatory environment.

    —  Where the balance should lie between the rights of creators and the expectations of consumers.


  1.0.1  The creative industries can only flourish if there is a commercial proposition for the various initiatives taking place across the globe. Huge amounts of investments have gone into the core network infrastructure from the telcos worldwide and more is on the way—the key is to make sure that a framework is created to nurture the emerging media industries. Various countries are looking to exploit their knowledge with the super speed e-highways that connect the world now, creating a global electronic market place. This also creates a challenge, as countries/companies have to compete with lower cost of creation, digitisation and production of content for the various sectors of the market—eg Animation studios in India now produce significant amount of cartoons from storyboards for US studios etc. Most if not all of the initiatives are consumer driven and if the creators (service providers) price is right and make it easy, then the consumer is more likely to pay and abide by the various copyright laws.

1.1.0  Advertising industry

  1.1.1  Enthusiasm and excitement was evident over the new technologies in the industry at a recent well attended International Advertising Association ( and International Advertising Bureau ( seminar and conference. There are clear signs of advertising industry interest and take-up of pod-casting and blogs as new tools for advertising. There is a measurable move of a sizable percentage of ad spend to the internet (see attached PDF and web link to IAB case studies) which is predicted to continue. The increased availability and take-up of broadband is at last offering to advertisers audiences of sufficient size to justify investment in web campaigns. Apart from being smart and sexy the internet web technologies offer inbuilt assessment tools to enable better measurement of the effects advertising spend—page hits; search criteria; redirections; no. of pages; no. of visits etc. However the web provides a more personalised interface to end users than traditional broadcast media (radio/TV), and a more personalised and targeted view of available content—this can lead to greater fractionalisation of market segmentation and greater complexity (and hence cost) for advertising companies.

  There is also the beginning of a move from "real" to "virtual"—New usages of technology include "online virtual wine tasting" (, using the internet, broadcast video and text talk for return interactivity, to reach targeted but dispersed groups of potential customers with a more personalised service—an up-market Tupperware party approach or DK book distribution methodology.

  We can expect many more new applications as the innovators in the sector gain experience.

  1.1.2  "Creative Advertising Industry input...

    It is my opinion that the converged, broadband enabled future will have an enormous impact on the creative industries well into the rest of this decade and beyond. At its most basic level a major part of that impact will lie in the subtle balances between the creatively led and technically led worlds. For example, right now there is huge interest in mobile video with major investment coming from 3G companies such as 3 Mobile and Vodafone, yet outside of music video and adult content, everyday services such as soaps or even specially shot mobisodes have failed to take off so far because content creators are still struggling to get to grips with delivering the types of content that actually works on that medium.

    It's the old could we/should we paradigm. Just because we can deliver video to phones it doesn't necessarily mean that we should. In a recent trial by the BBC to promote their new series of the comedy Nighty Night a series of marketing clips were released for mobile in order to promote the show. The uptake rates were fairly successful for mobile but still only numbered in the low thousands rather than the 10s of thousands which one would hope for. A major reason for this is understanding that, in order to be successful, promotional clips on mobile would have to follow the same rules as viral email marketing activity. Normally the most popular viral activity features the subversive, something that poor old Auntie can't really be seen to be doing. So for the creatives of the future, not only will they have to understand how to make great content, but they will also have to have an understanding of the attributes of the specific platforms that content is going to be delivered to. Not only that but they will also have to know how any particular target demographic uses that platform.

    This problem multiplies when you consider that creatives need to understand all the available platforms that a campaign is due to cover, without that you start to get a problem trying to maintain a clear and consistent brand message throughout your campaign.

    Currently this problem is solved by brand owners going to different types of agencies to fulfil their differing needs, but in the converged future it will be extremely difficult to do that effectively because nothing exists in isolation anymore. For example, your outside print campaign may have a five digit shortcode that once dialled sends a bookmark back to the user to the related campaign WAP site. This WAP site can contain all sorts of things such as copy, images, competitons and video. The WAP site will need to be consistent with the PC internet site and the video will need to look the same as the ads on TV. Without consistency the brand will appear fractured and lose impact.

    Behind all of this of course, brand owners will want the usage measured in ever increasing levels of sophistication which means the agency of the future will need to session manage customers not just through the pages of a website, but through multiple platforms as well. The only way to do this effectively is to have the entire campaign delivered from a central server infrastructure so having multiple agencies who all have different ways of working may prove to be a problem.

    But why bother with multiplatform campaigns? Well unfortunately, the growth in new platforms means the increasing segmentation of audience, with the major TV channels not just losing market share to "multichannel" but they are also losing share to the internet and increasingly gaming. Without understanding of and representation on these platforms could mean the difference between the success or failure not just of a particular campaign, but also the long term prospects of a brand well into the future.

    So, what about the rights of content owners and IP distribution? This is still wide open and it is my considered opinion that there is no one answer to that problem. Certainly, piracy will eat into the profits of major organisations well into the future, but then again, piracy always has, it just wasn't quite so measurable before. But not wanting to single a particular group out, don't forget also that new technology has also benefited the film and music industries for many years. Got the record? Now buy the CD. Got the video? Now get the DVD? Media owners have never been shy about asking consumers to adopt new technologies when it suited them, so the fierce backlash from certain quarters whilst understandable is also a little ironic.

    However, it is also worth mentioning that with the rise in piracy there are also new opportunities available. Anyone interested in purchasing all your favourite albums again but this time re-engineered for surround sound? Now available with unique Hollywood Bowl acoustic reproduction? You can actually feel like you there with the band... But seriously, with the rise of product placement within TV and film at what point does is actually become desirable for as many people as possible to see a particular show rather than restrict it. Surely, the more eyes on screen the better?

    Does the problem then not become how many people copied it, but rather accurately working out how many people actually watched it so we can charge the product placement owners accordingly. IF this becomes a model then the challenge to the creatives will be how to weave in the placement without destroying the artistic credibility of the show. In addition to this example, you also have the Creative Commons licence which is used in the BBC's Creative Archive project. This has been developed to allow creatives to freely share their creative endeavours but maintain certain aspects such as attribution, or the work can't be used for commercial gain etc. Many countries have signed up to the Creative Commons scheme and Google have recently launched a Creative Commons enabled search to their portfolio.

    In conclusion, I think the best way to think about issues for creatives going forward is that different rules will be applied to the various aspects of convergence, rights ownership, distribution and so on. What rules are applied will depend on the nature of the content and what you want to do with it. If you are seeking to make money off other peoples work without their permission, then that is clearly theft, but if you are merely distributing other peoples work, then it will really depend on what that work is and what the attitude is of the owner of that work. Over time a number of different models will apply.

    Ultimately, I think we can agree that we are heading for very exciting times creative-wise in the years ahead and with the rapid advances in technology we are now getting to a stage where we can start to adopt a creative rather than technically led approach to content creation. This will give rise to new hybrid formats and I dare say new forms of entertainment never before imagined. As to who owns it all, well as a creative, right now I'm too busy having fun to care...

  1.1.3  Advertising case studies

1.2.0  Education

  1.2.1  Taking education and schools as another example, from a user perspective the technology evolution has offered the potential of complex, professional, highly interactive, digitised multimedia content and tools, and the possibilities of new processes and methods of the delivery of education in the classroom and out of it. However this is often into a scenario where the leading users (geeks!!) have been "spoiled" by the global availability of small, simple, amateur implementations available for free across the net—leading to unreal expectations and poor cost vs value judgements on commercial products, while the majority of the profession still struggles with the "chalk and talk" culture and resists process change and the market continues to rely on the promotional-push which the big players are best placed and most suited for.

  High interactivity, professional look and feel and high multimedia-ness are essential to retain the attention, engagement and enthusiasm of pupil users who are used to the mobile phone, TV and games cultures.

  The costs of developing products utilising this flexibility and complexity are high, and as a result for the content industry it has been, and continues to be, difficult to create sustainable business cases for investment with a suitable ROI. This impacts the smaller (SME) organisations with a critical dependence on cash flow more than the giants (eg BBC, Grenada, Pearsons), but they are not immune either. There is a real danger that if a sustainable pull-market (where users demand and are experienced purchasers) is not developed the innovation, flexibilities and choice provided by the SMEs will disappear in favour of a few large providers.

  For the Information Society of Europe and as a result of the continued investment in ICT in schools there is an expectation that pupils will become more skilled in the capture, manipulation, processing and presentation of information from all sources and that these skills are desirable. There is evidence that these skills develop as a pupil progresses across the curriculum, moving from high multimedia, whole programmes, delivered on local networks or across the internet, at the younger ages towards the use of tools and free and roaming internet research at the higher ages. Pupils also have become used to the availability of cost free services across the net: content (music and videos) through P2P networking; voice, video and text messaging etc; virtual visits; access to content and the ability to manipulate and re-present it.

  As discussed in the Advertising input, whilst the commercial exploitation for gain of licensed materials without payment to the IPR owner is undoubtedly theft the current discussions on protection methodologies (DRM) and their enforcement (inbuilt in commercial monopoly products) appear mainly driven by the giants of the music and video entertainments industries. These materials are not normally used in education to any extent—excepting the teaching of media studies or art etc regulation supporting blanket implementations of these methodologies across all content however, could have a harmful impact on education and other user sectors if they stifle creativity and access to content, and equally could be unaffordable to SME content creators.

  Traditionally UK academia and education have often been allowed access to (paper) content for free or lesser charges—this relates of course to state sector owned materials, eg Museum materials, British Library, archives etc, and having accounted for the costs of managing access, should also apply to digitised publicly owned content—BBC materials and national Archives.

    Will the new models of regulation and enforcement stifle educational creativity or will there be special licence terms for schools...?

    Will schools be able to afford the costs of implementing and managing licence regimes across their systems...?

    What will be the implications on a school where pupils infringe licence regulations at home, but then transport the materials onto the school network...???

24 January 2006

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