Broadcasting the Archive



1. The Origins of Broadcasting ; 2. Broadcasting Today ; 3. The Future of Broadcasting: losing real time, gaining all time ; 4. Goods and Public Goods ; 5. The Digital Public Space ;


This paper reviews the development of audiovisual technologies and their business consequences. The authors (BBC Research & Development) plea for a Digital Public Space where broadcasting is seen as a sum of individual public goods (i.e. goods with an inherent value). This way, ‘opening’ broadcast archives will release public value without the schedule, non real time, and without being bound by economic constraints (particularly copyright). The Digital Public Space is a BBC concept of a real public space that is formally protected from copyright, and dedicated to cultural heritage. A mechanism to separate public goods from the commercial considerations associated with ordinary goods. The need for cultural heritage organisations to liberate themselves from a commercial market, lies in the fact that a commercial market does not recognize public value. A broadcaster could become a publisher (which is one of the four categories for media and business the authors present here), providing the public access at their own time.  An example of this concept is The Space ( a pilot service from May 2012 to October 2013).


Interesting plea for a digital public space – a place where heritage content can flourish outside a commercial context - by transcending economic constraints (particularly copyright) to release the greater value of “the goods” held in national archives and other heritage institutions, like broadcasting archives. By pointing out that 'opening the archive' essentially means opening a new, non-commerical market, the authors offer broadcast content providers a useful perspective, namely that they could provide access specifically to goods that have public value.

Hanneke Smulders