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‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb

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Chances are, you won’t have heard of R&D TV. As the name suggests, this is an experimental new programming format from the BBC where footage is supplied with the intention that you and I won’t just consume, but we will take the opportunity to create too.

As it says on the site: “The clips are raw straight from our cameras and although this may be too much for most people, it makes great footage for those who want to remix and mashup our footage with there (sic) own or others.”

Trouble is, only one such mashup has so far taken place despite worldwide access and awareness of the initiative is very limited.

Is this just early days for something ahead of the curve , or is the mighty institution smothering its fledgling participatory offering before it can get out of the nursery?

The crowd at last night’s Social Media Cafe in Manchester were in no doubt it was the latter, provoking a lively debate with the BBC’s Ian Forrester (AKA @cubicgarden).

Why couldn’t the BBC promote the new programmes through established programmes such as Click? Why wasn’t it available in iPlayer? Will it ever be shown on BBC2 – or even 3?

(As a personal aside – just look at the URL http://ftp.kw.bbc.co.uk/backstage/index.whtml, hard to think of anything less user friendly).

Ian was able to explain many of the issues around licensing which make it difficult for R&D TV – soundtracks with music under copyright to artists for example, couldn’t be just handed out for further publication and distribution.

Fair enough points but, as several members of the audience pointed out, surely there’s content which is wholly BBC produced which could be offered up – or even specifically commissioned – if a true collaboration is going to take place?

I was left thinking that probably the highest hurdle this  brave project faces is an organisational mindset one – let’s hope that doesn’t take too long or become too distracting and good luck to Ian in pushing this on.

There’s no doubt that, while those internal bickerings take place, creative mashups will continue without any regard to licensing issues, hurt egos or approval from Aunty Beeb.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxi6QDwQyLU]

* There’s an audioBoo of reaction to the talk here.

* A FriendFeed commentary I did during the session with Ian can be seen here.

Written by sarahhartley

June 3rd, 2009 at 8:25 am