Thursday, July 07, 2005

RTV, cross-media and broadband

Yesterday, I reported on the party at the Media Park in Hilversum. It was interesting to be there, as it has become a battle ground. A week ago that became most clear. On the June 27, John de Mol presented the programming for his new TV station, while at another part of Media Park the state secretary for Radio and TV Ms Medy van der Laan presented her plans to re-organise the public broadcast system.

John de Mol presented his TV station. The press conference was live on internet and drew without real publicity 35.000 viewers. The present name of the station, Talpa (in Spanish: mole) was not the preferred name. Talpa should have been named Ten, but this name is claimed by its competitor SBS. But the company’s logo exists now of a 10 key telephone pad. The TV station will be the first full digital station and cross media provider, broadcasting on TV, satellite and internet. In content the station promises more of the same (Big Brother, Expedition Robinson). Having bought out all star presenters of the commercial and public networks, the faces will be familiar as well. So what is new?
The way the television station works. It will not use tapes, but will be a networked TV company. And the TV station will be available on internet and on satellite. Especially the internet outlet will be interesting as it will be used cross media platform. It looks like the words of my French friend Damien Marchi will finally be embodied: a TV broadcast will become an hour long advertisement. Big Brother will most likely be the shining example of this. Daily just a report on the events in the house, with a menu card for internet and telephone options.

At the other side of the Media Park RTV state secretary Medy van der Laan was explaining to public broadcast employees, that the public broadcast system will only get half of the budget it has now. This means that public RTV organisations may operate more commercially, while highly appreciated programs will have to disappear. Of the 17.500 employees working in the RTV industry in Hilversum some 1.000 people will be dismissed, while the 3 billion euro turn-over will diminish. In the end it might also mean that one TV channel and two radio might be abolished (this would not be a real disaster). On the other hand Medy van der Laan indicated that the public RTV organisations will be able to work with internet and other cross-media platforms.

It is clear that the RTV industry is in turmoil and will have to start thinking about new ways and adapt the cross media platforms. With the numbers of TV viewers going down, the RTV companies will have find new program formats, cross media and interactive TV. Broadband users are moving from TV to internet. According to Telecompaper, on 31 December 2004, ADSL accounted for 58 percent of the net broadband connections in the Netherlands, whereas cable accounted for 42 percent. Broadband penetration per household increased to 44.8 percent at the end of December 2004, up 17.3 percent compared to the penetration rate at the end of 2003 (27.5 percent). Telecompaper estimates that the Dutch broadband market will grow its customer base by 40 percent in 2005, to approximately 4.4 million broadband connections in the Netherlands, representing a household penetration rate of 62 percent.

So RTV organisations will have to more creative, work with cross-media and prepare themselves for broadband (ADSL is only the beginning; just wait till glas fibre comes in fashion).

(Today the June edition of the electronic newsletter Content Market Monitor will be published and a short version will be distributed by e-mail. It is a free, monthly newsletter with 1700 subscribers in 92 countries. Yesterday I have added the Content Market Monitor Daily. In this blog I will point to relevant content items. I start out with two interesting interviews: one on the content industry and one on digital storytelling.)

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