Fincham still sees grand future for traditional nets

LONDON — A senior BBC exec claims the death of conventional television has been exaggerated — and that traditional networks have a big future ahead of them.

BBC1 controller Peter Fincham, speaking to the Royal Television Society, compared the current enthusiasm for Web sites such as YouTube.com and MySpace.com to the dot-com boom at the turn of the century.

He said: “Take user-generated content. I’m as big a fan of it as anybody, and I was delighted to find that within two days of launching the new BBC1 idents recently, people were posting beautifully crafted spoofs on YouTube.

“YouTube’s great. Google’s great. It’s all great. But if the conclusion you draw — and some people love drawing it — is that television is over, I think you might just be wrong.

“This sort of breathless over-enthusiasm for the overnight destruction of television is reminiscent in some ways of the dot-com boom of the late ’90s, when all conventional businesses apparently were heading for the scrap heap.

“The trouble is, it’s missing the point. Conventional television — old media, linear, whatever you want to call it — and new media don’t exist in opposition to each other. In fact, they’re perfect partners.”

Fincham’s upbeat prognosis for mainstream network TV is in contrast to the comments from many of his high-ranking colleagues at the pubcaster, who in recent months have banged the drum for new media.

The BBC is investing heavily in online activities, and its Web site is one of the most visited in the world.

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