Way back in 2010 I first called for the BBC to give away its local public service content when Jeremy Hunt crow-barred local TV out of the BBC budget.:
‘make content produced with your money freely reusable by all comers – including local papers under a creative commons licence allowing commercial and non commercial reuse. Give potential complainants something commercially useful’
Last year I wrote that:
‘Britain needs more local media, could the BBC add to the news ecosystem by opening up its local news content under a creative commons licence for commercial and non-commercial reuse?
‘Put simply, can the BBC give away its local news, both in real time and its local archive, for other local media to reuse – in newspapers, blogs, Twitter, TV, radio etc – for free, with proper attribution? Would the net benefits for society outweigh any costs? ‘
I went on in the article on the BBC College of Journalism site to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. I pushed the idea around a bit and in a speech to the Society of Editors Sajid Javid said:
‘Should the BBC share its local public service content under a creative commons licence?
I want the BBC to come forward with ambitious, innovative ideas that enrich and support sectors like local journalism.’
Today the BBC Director General said that the BBC:
‘would make available our regional video and local audio for immediate use on the internet services of local and regional news organisations.’
But it’s all in the detail: The BBC PR website says
‘The offering of a new partnership with local newspapers on local reporting, shaped in discussion with the industry. This content would be shared, jointly created, and backed by licence fee funding, thereby helping to secure the future of local newspapers and democratic reporting.’
The BBC’s policy document says (page 65)
‘The BBC will make available its regional video and local audio pieces for immediate use on the internet services of local and regional news organisations across the UK. Video can be time-consuming and resource-intensive to produce. The News Bank would make available all pieces of BBC video content produced by the BBC’s regional and local news teams to other media providers. Subject to rights and further discussion with the industry we would also look to share longer versions of content not broadcast, such as sports interviews and press conferences….Content would be easily searchable by other news organisations, making relevant material available to be downloaded or delivered by the outlets themselves, or for them to simply embed within their own websites. Sharing of content would ensure licence fee payers get maximum value from their investment in local journalism, but it would also provide additional content to allow news organisations to strengthen their offer to audiences without additional costs. We would also continue to enhance linking out from BBC Online, building on the work of Local Live.’
Of course, it needs to become clear that informal hyperlocal outlets are included. All in all this is in the right place and a welcome breath of fresh air from the BBC. It needs a lot of working through, but the creative potential is enormous – first off in London I would set up a cycling channel of BBC reporting from cycling accidents, radio phone ins etc. by embedding their content in a wordpress.com blog. If the meta data is structured properly by the BBC it could be fully automated.
I was struck when I first floated this notion in a talk to a room full of local newspaper types that I did not get a stereo typically rabid response from the local press about unfair competition. Maybe that will come, but a wise local media would see this as ballast content they could hoover up under their ‘news harvesting‘ policy and welcome it with open arms.
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