Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blast To The Past

It was great to get back to my home town and see the amazing changes that have gone on. Caernarfon is a beautiful town, at the foot of the mountains, on the banks of the straits with an ancient castle and town walls. Like many British towns, successive town planners have done their best to destroy this legacy with ill considered developments, including a fifty foot incline through the centre of town to enable people to bypass it quicker and the building of a huge supermarket on the seafront.

But it's a true media town in the way very few places of this size anywhere in the world are - as a proportion of the population working in media, Caernarfon would easily outstrip LA, Mumbai or London. Thanks largely to the Welsh broadcaster S4C the town is full of 'cyfryngies' (media types) and has a thriving media centre and large studio facilities as well as many production companies.

Whereas I admire Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, my real role models were the first generation of Welsh media entrepreneurs. People like Huw Jones and Dafydd Iwan, who created the Welsh record label Sain, where I had the most enviable summer job for any fifteen year old in the UK's first digital 24 track recording studio.

The occasion of my return was to speak (twice!) at the Celtic Media Festival. You can see the presentations I participated in here: 


The contention of Can I Have My TV Back ? was that the quality of traditional TV is suffering because there is more and more space to fill. A deliberately polemic contention, but a key part of the current media debate. My view: people get what they deserve. If people didn't watch the shopping channels - and buy from them - they would go out of business.. Equally, there's space for the West Wing and for Skins.

Independent Survival Strategies featured an excellent overview of the independent television production industry in the UK by Alan Ogston of Oliver & Ohlbaum and then a great debate. I think it's worth the time of any independent producer to have a look at this.

If I wasn't suffering from a heavy cold (or man flu as my wife calls it...) I would have loved to have spent more time. This was a narrowcast festival for an increasingly narrowcast world and I thoroughly enjoyed it.




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