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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Should public broadcaster seek competitive advantage online by offering users content for free?

March 17th, 2008Posted by in Broadcasting, Multimedia, Newspapers

Image of Kristine LoweKristine Lowe is a freelance journalist who writes on the media industry for number of US, UK and Norwegian publications. Today Online Journalism Scandinavia asks if public broadcasters should be more restrained in the content they offer for free online.

The head of the online division of Norway’s public broadcaster (NRK) has admitted that it intends to use its public mandate of supplying content for free as a competitive advantage on the web through increasing activity with file-sharing and social networks.

“I believe all public broadcasters more and more think along the lines that it is a competitive advantage that they can deliver content without charging it for it,” said Bjarne Andre Myklebust, head of the online division of NRK.

He added that the organisation is actively working to use its public mandate as a competitive advantage to strengthen its position online.

Not only are they working to make NRK’s content more easily available to download and share on social sites, such as YouTube and Facebook, but are also experimenting with file-sharing services such as BitTorrent and Joost.

NRK recently made its first programme series available to download in Bit Torrent, they liked it so much, they are thinking of doing more. (You can read about their experiences so far here.)

The broadcaster has also been working to get its own channel up and running on Joost, a project that has been delayed somewhat by the challenge of obtaining permissions from all the copyright holders involved.

In addition, it has recently made some of its footage available to use under a creative commons license on Flickr. Something Germany’s public broadcaster has also dabbled with.

So is this the way forward? A good way to give value back to all its license fee payers, or just a way of completely skewing the competition in the broadcasting market?

What if the BBC, in a time of intensified competition, started extending its own free delivery of content across Facebook and bit-torrent sites? It’s probably only a matter of time, but is it an unfair advantage over commercial broadcasters, news and otherwise?

Is it a way of better fulfilling its public mandate, or just an outright example of the rampant commercialism of public broadcasters using public funding as an advantage against others that find it more difficult to distribute content for free?

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  • Public Journalist

    The BBC is hanging on by the older generation who remember how great it was and helped them through the war. This is not a bad thing. The BBC was once the only thing to watch but the times have changed and the BBC Television programmes have just been dragged out and dumbed down too much to return from, programmes like Easterenders, comedy repeats etc etc.

    The BBC online services News & Sport are great services for when you want to see any thing news or sports related wise, you can just look online at your old convenience. This leaves individuals wondering why the NEWS 24 channel is still here. The BBC should still be around in the future but without the waste BBC3, 4 etc. People believe the Beeb has changed for the worsted, equalling to serious editorial lapses and lots of dumbing down of services and programmes that people outside the world of the BBC, people just don’t wish to watch. The majority of people believe the BBC should stick to the future Media delivery and keep a certain amount of old media delivery for the older generation.

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