Beeb’s crystal ball

Pubcaster makes plans for digital future

The BBC has unveiled an editorial blueprint to future-proof it against the changes introduced by emerging digital technologies and a world “beyond broadcasting.”

Topper Mark Thompson warned that the pubcaster risked becoming irrelevant, especially to young auds as he presented the findings of the Creative Future review of BBC output across TV, radio and online.

“Audiences have enormous choice and they like exercising it,” he said. “But many feel the BBC is not tuned in to their lives.

“We need to understand our audiences far better, to be more responsive, collaborative and to build deeper relationships with them around fantastic quality content.”

For the past year, 10 BBC teams have been assessing what the world may be like in 2012, when the analog TV signal is due to be switched off in the U.K. — and how the BBC should respond.

The proposals include relaunching the BBC’s Web site to include more personalization, richer audiovisual and user-generated content, making fewer but bigger dramas, improving comedy by investing more in pilots, creating a dedicated teen brand and modernizing sports coverage.

Another big change on the table is to switch the emphasis of the BBC’s news machine to News 24, its 24-hour news web that recently emerged from under the shadow of archrival Sky News. Beeb is also considering more news on-demand.

As for the pubcaster’s entertainment output, the review said that the BBC should learn from videogames and experiment with commissioning for new platforms.

Speaking to the Royal Television Society in London, Thompson said: “The second wave of digital will be far more disruptive than the first, and the foundations of traditional media will be swept away, taking us beyond broadcasting.

“The BBC needs a creative response to the amazing, bewildering, exciting and inspiring changes in both technology and expectations.”