The BBC’s announcement today of its streamlining and focusing of its web strategy, 25 per cent budget cuts, the loss of 360 jobs, cannot have been a surprise to anyone, least of all its most ardent competitors. The out of control growth of the BBC’s websites has often been posited as a commercial ‘market impact’ problem for commercial rivals, but it is more of an editorial challenge than a regulatory one. After all, it is not clear exactly what the ‘market’ is for it to ‘impact’. Delivering a constantly evolving web strategy is not something Mark Thompson is alone in having to deliver. He’s just unique that he’s compelled to do it in public. Read the rest of this entry »
Slightly late, here is the link to my latest Guardian column which discusses why I am sceptical about the potential for success of an iPad app which is going to absorb a large amount of investment and carry 100 staff. The comments at the bottom are as ever well worth reading, although I don’t come out of them particularly well.
Two years ago I gave a talk at the LSE where I predicted a ‘catastrophic’ phase of decline for the UK press. It is, I believe, always beneficial to revisit your public mistakes, given that five national newspapers have not closed, that the BBC is still accompanied by ITV and Channel 4 and, for now, BSkyB as British companies. But part of me is still surprised that despite high job losses, closures and newspapers changing hands, not more has shifted.
The two years between the beginning of the recession in the UK (longer in the US) and now, have seen frantic activity in newspapers to trim costs and innovate, but still within very limited boundaries. The overwhelming weight of discussion has centred around the idea of paywalls, or charging for news in some format, even though there is, and has always been, significant evidence that this is a limited strategy for success. Read the rest of this entry »
When it comes to paywalls around news websites, I sometimes wonder if we are becoming an international fraternity of cargo cultists. The voodoo economics which accompanies the release of digital sales figures for The Times and Sunday Times is developing into its own art. What could this 105,000 digital sales, ‘around half’ of which are subscribers actually MEAN? Read the rest of this entry »