Category: New Media
Ashley Highfield, the BBC's Director of New Media & Technology, yesterday set out what he saw as the key business and technology challenges for the BBC as it enters the on-demand world.
He was sharing a keynote address with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at the MIX06 conference in Las Vegas. MIX06 is an event hosted by Microsoft and is a showcase for web developers, designers and business professionals.
Highfield said that the BBC had to ensure that, along with producing world class programmes, it also had to be highly technologically innovative in offering audiences platform-neutral, universal access to its content.
To keep pace with the unprecedented rate of change,
it was imperative that the BBC worked with partners such as Microsoft,
on a non-exclusive basis.
"We have a duty of universality," said Highfield, "so it's vital that we innovate through a number of strategic partnerships with technology companies and distributors such as Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Homechoice, NTL and Telewest.
"Both the BBC and Microsoft are ultimately looking for ways to empower our audiences;
to put them in control, and in this we have an alignment of strategic objectives.
"The challenge is to create an end-to-end infrastructure
for all our programming, to deliver content to all our audiences
in the most cost-effective, simple and flexible way possible. The
last ten yards of railway track - seamless delivery from the PC to
the TV - is still to be built within the home."
Highfield offered a vision of this 'Web 2.0' world when he showed how a future
version of the BBC's current work-in-progress iMP (Integrated Media Player) might
be integrated and delivered by the PC desktop, using features and enhancements
present in Windows Vista, Microsoft's new operating system due for release towards
the end of the year.
iMP, which has just completed a five-month trial, offers
downloadable programmes on a catch-up basis via the PC, and is the first
in a range of products "aimed at putting our audience in the driving
launch will be subject to the necessary public value test
and approvals as outlined in the BBC White
Paper last week.