See below, but here’s their problem… first with the audio, last with the words…

For if the time-line is correct, Auntie had the interview for 36-hours before someone, somewhere spotted the story and wrote from what looks like a London, national perspective…

Advantage lost.

You know when a digital revolution is afoot when your 76-year-old mother beats you to a new innovation – namely watching a show on iPlayer.

My Mrs has; I haven’t. Too much time slaved to a hot lap-top – ahh, I could watch on there…

Anyway, my mother, 76 if she’s a day, has watched Songs Of Praise or whatever on the PC in the corner of her Cringleford kitchen. My cousin talked her through it, apparently.

So, there’s something afoot here. As the audience figures would suggest. And as my mother has now found out, she can watch her favourite TV programmes when she wants, not when Auntie tells her to.

And now comes this…

Fascinating. Cos that took me straight back to this; the conversation me and Sao  Paulo were having the other day…

Cos clearly we now have another subject to discuss. If I watch BBC News24 off a Wii console do I need a TV licence?

Go to Sao Paulo’s response to the original response…

By law battery operated television receiving equipment is supposed to be exempt although the BBC TV Licence salespeople will say different!

And, indeed, the original debate on the Tomski blog…

Because, to my mind, accessing BBCNews24 via the nearest available Wii merely complicates matters still further; when is a screen just a screen? And when does that screen become a TV, when it has a Wii plugged in?

Does my eight-year-old boy, fresh from whooping my ass again at tennis, now need a TV licence becuase he’s got a piece of pluggable, electronic equipment that is capable of broadcasting a live, BBC service?

And if I were the BBC, the thought might just start occuring to me that iPlayer, for all its magic audience numbers, may be a very dark genie that they have just unleashed from the digital bottle.

Because the next generation of TV licence payers – currently sat playing on their Wii consoles and answering their iPhones in student bed-sits up and down the land – will probably never own a TV in the sense that us 40-somethings see one.

And with the bloody-mindedness that comes with youth, they will probably tell the man with the detector van exactly that – that I own a Wii, a lap-top and a mobile phone. And, no, I’m not paying a TV licence fee.

To borrow badly from The Smiths, that little thought would – if not, ought to – prompt panic on the streets of Wood Lane…

OK, here’s a simple test. What do you get if you put this….

Next to this…


So much for the answer. The question, of course, is who pays the ferryman…


It was the one question I forgot to ask; hopefully, he won’t mind if I do it via here.

But this debate fascinated me….

Not only for the murky legal water that surrounded this whole issue of when is a TV not a TV, but a PC. Or, indeed, when is a TV not a TV, but a screen…

But the other household piece of receiving equipment that appeared to have slipped beneath the radar.

Because if I’m sat on a train somewhere with my shiny new Apple iPhone in the palm of my hand and there’s a points failure just outside Colchester, at what point does the combination of iPlayer and mobile phone qualify for a TV licence?

What if we’re producing a whole generation of kids that will live their lives through what’s sat in the palm of their hand? God clearly forbid, but what in the event of the next 9/11 everyone is sat there watching BBC News24 ‘live’ on their mobiles – does that not now make a mobile phone a TV?

And should the detector vans not now be parked outside every secondary school playground in the country, picking off the kids one by one?

‘But I’ve never used it as a TV, honest, sir…’

‘Ah, but you’re capable of it, aren’t you?’

I’ve no idea. And judging by the well-informed comments cited above, I’m not sure anyone is wholly the wiser.

But there we are – is a TV not a TV when it’s an Apple iPhone?


A scribble, yesterday

It was a simple question from Pete Ashton – and one that, at the time, I had no answer to.

I’m not sure I do now.

Which is why, in part, Out With A Bang is here to help. Kind of.

Anyway, the question. ‘Is that model you drew online?’

Drew is probably over-stating it. Scribbled is a more accurate phrase as the old flip chart, marker pen and A-frame were assembled for the new kid on the (un)conference block as I tried to offer some ‘elegant organisation’ to the whole MFW thing. And, indeed, potentially to the whole baby.

I’d scribbled the thing out a couple of times before – once to some Barclays Bank types who drew a really lovely triangle by way of return; all-too-often to Col and Gary at the accountants who tend to nod politely as their eyes glaze over; once to Shane Richmond in the midst of a ‘Norwich aren’t going down, are they?’ conversation that he invariably demands.

OK, the idea is that if journalism is to thrive and survive in any post wood-stainer world, we have to build new alliances, forge fresh commercial links; re-organise; re-invent; start again from a blank piece of paper – and scribble all over it. Elegantly.

And what we create are these tubes – and I’m sure someone will think of a better term – but tubes that are, as I discovered at Charlie Beckett’s POLIS gig way back when, “two inches wide, but a mile deep…” Long tails. That’s the theory.

So beneath our mothership,, we bolt a succession of sub-sites on, and down and down we go.

For down there in the depths is this hyper-local world that features not only some prime, ‘sticky’ content, but also all that untapped local advertising; all these traditional, evening newspaper types who have built their own little business websites of late but don’t now know what to do with them…

Up top, where the sun shines and the lily pads are, that’s this new and emerging world of previously ‘national’ media brands who are suddenly discovering an escape route via global audiences – that’s where the circulation wars of the future will be fought between your Mails, Times, Telegraphs and Guardians. In their ABCe’s – how many monthly uniques are they pulling from the Mid-West US….

The trick is to devise an editorial and advertising platform that mirrors a Craig’s List or an eBay; that has this similar capacity to be both local in focus, but national in scope.

That’s why the BBC is laughing – or would be if it ever got the green light to do what it’s doing on its Worldwide platform and source UK-facing advertising.

For it can be this huge, global media beast – and yet at the same time via its county radio stations and its forthcoming BBC Local roll-out – it can drill down to being local in focus.

Just as MFW can. As can – albeit via its regional platforms. As, in fairness, RightMove, PrimeLocation, Monster and all those boys are.

With their minds all set on broadening their global appeal, do the Mails, the Telegraphs and the Times’ want to dive down to the bottom of the pond and see what’s there? Or will they concentrate their energies on spreading their wings and being a lily pad – and let someone else hoover up what’s down below?

Cos then, the theory goes, you just bolt your tube onto the bottom of a lily-pad; up comes local content and local advertising – down goes national content and, potentially, national advertising… BMW ads and Russell Brand’s Saturday football column makes it to the bottom of the MFW pond, as podcasts with Mick Mills and Johnny Wark reach the surface.

And this is where me and the provincial newspaper industry go our seperate ways.

Cos they’re neither lily-pad nor bottom-dwelling pond-life.

As this new kid on the (un)conference block I did my homework before JEECamp and looked at Trinity Mirror’s excellent online communities site that they have trialled – very successfully – out of the Gazette. I know that TS10 is the postcode for Redcar.

And fair play, it’s good.

And then you read that they’re planning a ‘national’ roll-out. Fantastic.

So when are you going to do NR14? Have one of those TrinityMirror babies rolling down our street? Complete with a local advertising revenue driver…

Cos clearly this being Archant-land, they won’t mind. As they won’t in every other traditional provincial newspaper fiefdom across the country. Don’t mind us, you carry on…

Me, Neil, Kev and Ian are four boys on their laptops. This being Norfolk, if I want a mobile phone signal to speak to Kev my ad man, I need to stand in a three-foot circle in our dining room; he answers by leaning out of his back bedroom window.

But we can still see a lily pad., – or, if you prefer.

From there it’s up and into MySun, MyTelegraph or whoever…

Well, that’s our theory. F*ck it.

Like the blog says, let’s go out with a bang.