In 2020 and beyond we will still need public broadcasters
By Kate Bulkley
Future-gazing is always a tricky business but those who believe there should be a future for public broadcasters beyond 2020 were cheered when Duane Varan, the executive director of the Interactive Television Research Institute in Australia called the erosion of public service broadcasting "a big mistake."
In Varan's view, as audiences fragment and competition for them becomes more intense, the role of PSBs become more critical than ever, especially for news, education and information-based programming.
"Audience fragmentation pushes news to the edge - it's what I call the Fox News effect - where the idea of objectivity loses out to the need to shout to be heard in a fragmenting universe," Varan told the packed audience at Future-gazing: the Broadcasting world in 2020.
Jonathan Marks, media anthropologist, journalist and producer, said the move to an all-digital world means that PSBs have a mandate to preserve a country's heritage. "PSBs have a role to serve the citizens not consumers - 80% of the world's broadcast archives are rotting and in 10 years many of them will be gone," Marks warned.
Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, predicted that our digital personas would become increasingly complex and rich, begging questions about who owns and controls 'your' information. Hall suggested that we might entrust third parties with personal information, "much like we use a bank today."
Another potentially huge problem discussed by the panel is what we record and store all this information on so it is 'playable' in the future. "You don't want to store it for yourself because the formats may change," said Hall.