Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Denial

Attending yet another OFCOM meeting, this one a parochial gathering in Cardiff set to address the 'plural' public service broadcasting market, leaves me livid. The whole affair was incredibly self-serving and probably replicates goings-on in offices, broadrooms and regulators around the world.

A bunch of old farts (yes, OK, I'm in there too) pontificating about regulating a world that has long since gone its own way and totally missing the point:

Why worry about the BBC and ITV when Sky is the dominant influence in Wales (forget content, worry about marketing) ?

OFCOM proudly presented research that said 80% of Welsh people thought that local news and content was very important, but then only 30% of people watch the content. So, in my book, 30% think that local content is important.

The guy from the local paper commented how a pig with booties was the most popular online story in Wales and he didn't know what to do about this. Then everyone went on about journalistic integrity and training. Blogs, people... It was the most striking example I've seen of denial by old world publishers after the agenda has left the room.

The CEO of Wales' most successful TV production company stated that no commercial broadcast entities would ever survive in Wales - a country of 3m people (byjesus, what would Iceland do with 1/10th of the population), with a native speaking population of 750K. I can hear the guys from Google giggling now. Let's restate the mantra - 'A market of one'.

The sheer naivety on show was breathtaking, but it is not isolated to Wales. People will talk up the future and visions they hear from people like me at seminars and conferences, but the reality is that 'getting it' and buying into this rhetoric is worthless - another 40,000 of the six odd billion people on the planet have 'got it' at the same time. Ideas, visions, are cheap. Understanding what they mean is a bit more significant. Executing and - god forbid - making money - takes a lot more skill.

Everyone in this industry is in denial - the publishers over their targeted audiences, the advertisers over their ridiculous and generalised targets; meanwhile Google are laughing all the way to the bank. It's what I call the 'Google Gap'. The rest of us are in denial.

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