By Peter Feuilherade
Digital broadcasting has now become mainstream entertainment in UK
households, a broadcasting conference has been told.
BBC boss Mark Thompson predicted the 'hybrid world'
Several speakers at the Financial Times New Media and Broadcasting Conference in London said that the high take-up of broadband and portable devices among British audiences meant "new media" should now be seen as the norm.
About 14 million households - 60% of the total - have digital TV,
according to the UK regulator Ofcom.
And there are now six million broadband connections and 1.4 million digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio sets in use across the UK, Capital Radio's chief executive David Mansfield reminded the conference.
The audiences of broadcasters have traditionally had to adapt to different delivery platforms. Now, the opposite is happening in media markets across the world, said Tom Glocer, chief executive officer of Reuters.
"Personalised media will be the model for the next 100 years", he predicted.
Other speakers at the conference said the onus was now on content providers and broadcasters to satisfy different audiences who moved at different speeds.
While some consumers are still enjoying "linear", or passive, media, there is also a growing appetite for on-demand content, either via "grey" or semi-legal sites or from licensed content providers, said Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general:
"The second wave of digital is creating a hybrid world featuring more
linear, non-participatory media, with increasing audience participation,
engagement and creativity," Mr Thompson said.
Channel 4 boss Andy Duncan pledged a website for the young
Andy Duncan, chief executive of Channel 4, outlined the plans for the channel, which is commercially funded but publicly owned, to adapt its public service broadcasting remit for the digital age.
"Broadcasting is becoming an industry led increasingly by the audience
rather than by content producers, and the spread of delivery via internet and mobile platforms will complete this process," Mr Duncan said.
He pledged that Channel 4 would launch more channels for UK audiences, including one for documentaries; set up a new issues-based young people's website; and offer the public access to an archive of the best old documentaries, as well as launch a showcase for new documentary film makers.
"It's impossible to predict the winning technologies - staying close to the customer is the way forward," Andy Duncan concluded.
Delegates, meanwhile, joked that the organisers should rename next year's gathering the "My Media" conference - because "personalising" of content is the buzz phrase on everyone's lips.