BBC Jam: Too successful for their own good

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.

3 Comments

  1. Glad you spotted this too. I made a brief and unenlightening mention of it on my blog and was going to pass the link on to you… It made me angry – I thought I might have missed something crucial but it turns out businesses are actually complaining about the state-funded promotion of child education :S
    Guy

  2. Not only has the BBC has suspended its ‘BBC Jam’ Digital Curriculum service but from the end of March the production of the educational TV programmes that BBC Jam was intended to replace will also cease and the staff associated with them will be made redundant. It was hoped that they would be resettled over in the hitherto expanding BBC Jam service, but not now, so it looks as if these key staff will be lost to the BBC. More serious is that the suspension of BBC Jam and the stopping of school TV production means that the BBC now makes no formal education provision at all for children and schools I know the BBC Trust has asked for ‘..fresh proposals for how the BBC meets its public purpose of promoting formal education in the context of school age children’, but by the time this is completed. many key TV production staff will have been sacked. Time to make a fuss.

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