If you have a couple of hours to spare – it’s a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK and there’s five inches of slush outside our front door, that kind of thing – then this might be worth a dabble.


By web standards, it’s a hefty tome. And I won’t for one minute claim to understand and follow every nuance; in part that is due to the fact that it was delivered to a broadcast audience from someone, I guess, of a lengthy broadcast background. Neither of which apply to me.

I’ve always said that I drop to many Hs for radio, have too many chins for TV; so I stick to words. On a page. I just don’t stain wood any more.

But if you read through the words and thoughts of Mr Magic Lantern, it is a fascinating document – particularly if, like me, you tend to strip out all the TV references and look at it through the lens of a newspaper. In that light certain passages leap out.

Particular with reference to funding – a subject dear to the heart of any new start-up.

There’s another lengthy post to be had revisiting the whole Judean People’s Liberation Front gag when it comes to wandering around the corridors of EEDA, EEIA, NESTA et al, but for now let’s just work on one premise – that it might, just, be beholden on any fully-functioning democratic government to ensure that there is some kind of community representative attending district council meetings, magistrates court hearings, public inquests, etc, etc… and communicating their ‘findings’ thereafter to the wider society beyond.

Of course, that function has traditionally been serviced by local newspapers, but let’s try and envisage a world without your local court reporter, local government correspondent, etc, etc. Shouldn’t be too hard if anyone cares to poke their nose into any shrinking newsroom of late.

Back to Mr Magic Lantern; shining a little light into the darker corners of this new media world with his epic think-piece on the potential role of an OFCOM-backed PSP in ‘facilitating’ our journey into this unfolding digital landscape.

But, as I say, don’t think TV; think words.

“In some circumstances, for instance when particularly important scientific work has been funded directly by government, the public interest has been deemed to override the private. Either way, the relationship between the two is not fixed.

“In the media landscape of the 20th century this did not matter so much as it does now. Power was centred on the organisations which had control of scarce distribution outlets – such as television channels or cinemas. These organisations operated within a closed and controlled world – predominantly made up of physical products, like books, or within closed technologies such as television…

I’m not unduly worried about the copyright issues that then follow; it is the langauage of ‘closed technologies’ that fascinates. Because that’s printed newspapers; print press halls, delivery vans, corner shops and paper boys.

Given the number of times our newsagent next door has to advertise for ‘staff’, paper boys and girls in Loddon certainly qualify under the category ‘scarce distribution outlets’. Very scarce. Leave my sofa and my PS3… you’re havin’ a laugh.

Copyright, blah, blah, blah…. then this…

“The coming of global broadband linkage and the web has changed that landscape forever.

“In the process, as has been discussed above, an explosion of participation in media is beginning.

“This world has flipped from a state of affairs where scarcity of content was the norm to the landscape we see now – with many more content creators, aggregators and owners out there.

“In addition, the availability of low cost digital production and post-production technologies is driving an unprecedented surge in creation, modification and remixing of content by the people formerly known as the audience…

Blah, blah, blah… I know I’m leaping; cherry-picking; go read it yourself…

Here we go… “It should be sufficient for the PSP to invest in order to deliver public benefit – if others can build on this investment to create commercial goods then so be it…

Uh-huh… Is there public benefit in putting a community representative in a local council meeting? Uh-huh…

Sorry, time to pick another cherry.

“Traditionally, the development of a well-established brand in the media ecology has been a slow and expensive process – particularly where direct to consumer propositions are concerned.

“However, more recently, brands such as Google and eBay have developed not simply as a result of external marketing and branding exercises but as a result of the way in which they have offered services which have effectively harnessed and resonated with the essential participatory nature of the interactive, networked media…

Mmm. Like to think we ‘resonate’ – well, for at least seven minutes every day…

“By working in partnership with distributors and syndicating content widely, the information that the project had received support from the PSP could be developed to become a mark of quality in the public service media landscape…”

Interesting. Given that trusted content is invariably king – to reader and potential local advertiser alike. So, kind of a like a charter-mark; the content meets a ‘trade standard’… Yep, suits me…

Blah, blah, blah… Oh, that’s it. It finishes, dare I say it, somewhere in mid-air. No going out with a bang.

But it is fascinating. For one simple, fact.

Because it’s not too long ago the world was told that the PSP as a concept ‘has served its purpose’.

And, according to the Guardian’s report ‘its projected costs were scaled back last year to between £50m and £100m a year, with a revised focus on exploiting opportunities in new media…’

Suits me.

Because if the PSP idea was indeed a “rock thrown in a pool” then the ripples washed over my kitchen table this Bank Holiday. 

Cos, for me, they were spot on. In many, many regards. They just need to have a word in EEDA’s shell-like and after all that talk, ‘facilitate’ some of us to actually do this digital walk.