We are the village green preservation society

A picture of a red phone box and some plants

Photo of Red Phone Box and Accessories by Ennor. Used under licence.

Sorry this is going to be a rather laboured analogy. The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society was released in 1968 and was a bit of disaster sales wise but of course everyone *says* they love it now.* Even if they haven’t heard it. So I hope it wasn’t too much of a bad omen when I read this editorial in the Guardian on Saturday.

[The BBC] has been exceptionally far-sighted in its technological vision (take a belated bow, Lord Birt) and development. Now is the time to start sharing some of that. The licence fee has been a form of media venture capital for the nation: the BBC should be much more open about sharing both content and technology and making them as widely available as possible. The iPlayer, for instance, could not possibly have been developed without the licence fee: it should be like the British coastline, common land or village greens. It should be open to all.

Guardian Editorial | November 22nd 2008

I’ve not heard of the BBC being talked off like this much since this passage hidden away in the back of that rather neglected Mark Thompson statement of intent; Building Public Value. ; the BBC’s submission as part of the Charter Renewal process in 2004.

the BBC was founded according to three public principles which are common to many other staples of the nation’s public life – the UK’s public health and education systems, our public parks,our museums and libraries:
Universality – it is for everyone and should be freely available to everyone;
Fairness and equity – because it is held in common it should fairly reflect the
needs and interests of all its different users;
Accountability – collective ownership confers on the British public the right of
collective accountability and the power to monitor the performance and guide
the future of the BBC through their civic institutions.

Building Public Value (PDF) | June 2004

In my previous piece about hiring Steve as a BBC blogger in residence I’ve mentioned a few more examples which have contributed to this head full of steam about the BBC becoming more “open”. Steve in his work over the last few months prefers to talk of a common platform. But i do like this village green analogy. Its probably my lifelong affection for Orwell and his essays about making tea, major’s unfarily derided “leather on willow” speech and er, my age. Ironically, even though its endorsed in a leader from the Guardian, perhaps talking of a BBC more in this vein would play better with them and them.

* I do love Village Green but i really like Something Else and Arthur too, you know.

the BBC was founded
according to three public principles which are common to many other staples of the
nation’s public life – the UK’s public health and education systems, our public parks,
our museums and libraries:
Universality – it is for everyone and should be freely available to everyone;
Fairness and equity – because it is held in common it should fairly reflect the
needs and interests of all its different users;
Accountability – collective ownership confers on the British public the right of
collective accountability and the power to monitor the performance and guide
the future of the BBC through their civic institutions
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One response to “We are the village green preservation society

  1. You’re basically a mod, aren’t you? Anyway, fascinating that these ideas are acquiring currency now during this nasty economic slump. I find myself wondering if the BBC’s contribution to the country’s economic recovery might be something along the lines of a ‘Media Marshall Plan’.

    The BBC could convene a committee of managers and advisers whose job it would be to identify the assets and resources that could be packaged under a new, free-to-use licence and given away to seed development in media and tech startups, social innovation, community and education, local and super-local media and even in direct competitor organisations.

    Such a scheme would hardly be without risk but the result could be a major flowering of new businesses, ideas, social ventures and learning resources. I’d like to see something like this happen – and I’d like to see the BBC invent and direct the scheme. That would certainly preferable to the kind of insidious erosion of the BBC’s mission that large parts of the pop media and political class would like to see…

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