I spent yesterday in a meeting with the BBC where we were discussing changes to both the OU and the BBC brought about by the internet. It was very interesting, but also really challenging as there seem to be fundamental changes required to how both organisations operate.
And then today I hear that BBC Jam, an online educational service for 5- 16 year olds, has been suspended. It has been suspended not because it was a failure or through lack of interest, but because several commercial companies complained that it was harming their business. So rather than have to respond with a better product, they simply get the site shut down. Could newspapers get the BBC or Guardian online shut down because it harms their business? Could e-learning companies complain that OpenLearn damages their profits? The response should be ‘well of course it harms your business, because your business is changing.’
This demonstrates two things: i) many commercial companies still don’t get the new economics of the net and ii) the blurring of the ‘broadcast’ boundary will cause friction in other sectors. Trying to draw a maginot line that confines the activity of traditional broadcasters to just television is both pointless and damaging to them ie., about much use as the original Maginot line.