The Queen’s telly club

The Royal Television Society holds its biennial convention in Cambridge this September.

Charles Allen, CBE, Chair of the 2005 Convention says this in the invitation blurb:

“All of us in the TV industry, producers, broadcasters, are facing what has been described, rather painfully, as ‘Burning Platforms’. Add to that the very real threat of mass piracy about to hit us as it did the music industry and the challenge of delivering to advertisers the attention, rather than just the eyeballs, of a multi-tasking generation, and the issues of the future becomes frighteningly stark. Oh… and we’ve also got an irritating blue frog with airbrushed genitals to contend with!”

So they are coming together to answer these questions:

“How should we rise to the threats and the challenges of a world which is ‘Always On’? How do we ensure that we continue to enjoy in the next 10 years the wealth and depth, the quality and the invention of television that we have enjoyed in the last? And, as this is an issue that we all face, it’s vital that you are there to contribute to the discussion.”

Mmm… I think Charles may be thinking of a different ‘we’ than I am, but may I humbly offer some suggestions?

  • I sense that your chirpy tone is like a small boy, whistling in the dark – that’s OK, this world can seem scary, but it needn’t be, if you approach us in a non-confrontational way, you will find us to be friendly and helpful. If you can’t do that, some of us will find it hard to resist biting you on the arse, the others will just leave you to wither. (Hint 1: start off by giving up the name-calling – don’t label anyone a pirate unless they choose to do so themselves. Hint 2: ‘Mass piracy’ implies everyone’s doing it – that’s the same ‘everyone’ that you usually call your ‘audience’ or the people who pay your wages.)
  • Loosen up, open up and accept that you’re no longer alone in this room. Adopt these new tools and ways of working – they can benefit you too!
  • TV is dead, because broadcasting is dead. Not broadcasting as an industry (yet) but broadcasting as an organising principle for communication and for wider society. Get Dave Winer to speak on this and the death of monoculture. For a taster, listen to Morning Coffee Notes for May 12th especially the last 7 minutes.
  • Get Paula Le Dieu to speak on the Creative Archive and Creative Commons and how they can be your friends.
  • Blog, Vlog and Podcast this as if your life depended upon it – start immediately and you could generate enormous buzz about this.
  • Start a wiki to help get other people working on this with you and to create a record of the event.
  • Hire at least two vloggers and podcasters to cover the convention week (ie last-minute preparation through to closing) and produce a take-away DVD.
  • Create a video of the opening session/dinner, post it, blog about it, get others to do so too. Use flickr, technorati and del.icio.us to pull everything together using tags. (hey I made one up for you below!)
  • Encourage, sponsor, do (whatever!) the organisation of two alternative conferences, one elsewhere in Cambridge and one on-line at the same time – get a video-link between the two physical spaces and have a session where people from each can ask questions of the others.

Finally get someone ultra-cool, switched-on, and plugged-in to help you with all this and to dream even bigger dreams. Oh wait, you already did!

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Photo by sickler