26 May 2013

Pace of change defeats BBC "tapeless" project

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BBC abandons Digital Media Initiative BBC abandons Digital Media Initiative BBC/RedShark


Eyes open

Thirdly, by all means keep up research and development of new broadcasting technologies, but do so with your eyes open to the fact that even hardware is software controlled and is very largely reconfigurable in software. If you remember this you will avoid ever making the same mistakes you did with DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting - a European digital radio system developed largely by the BBC). It's not that this is a bad system - it's extremely clever and works very well with car radios, which is what it was largely targeted at. It's just that it was developed around twenty years ago, and radios that use it can't be re-programmed to work with more modern compression systems. The result is that most DAB audio is actually lower quality than FM - and even mono, sometimes, because the bandwidth just isn't available. Quality is lowered in exchange for more channels. With more modern systems you could have more channels and better quality. You can't blame the BBC for this, but it does illustrate my final point, which is that things are changing so quickly now that you have to take a completely different approach.


And that approach is: don't spend millions developing your own technology. Instead, spend around a tenth of this on a dedicated unit that determines the strategy of the organisation in the face of rapid technology change. If you do this, you'll always be up to date, and you'll be in a better position to understand technology trends. So you're less likely to embark on something that - however well intentioned - is never going to keep pace with developments in digital media technology.

BBC news story
The Guardian

David Shapton

David Shapton was the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications from 2012 to 2020. 

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