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Speech by Ashley Highfield, BBC Director of New Media & Technology, to the FT New Media & Broadcasting Conference

*BBC has vital role to play in creating broadband UK

**BBC ‘Creative Archive’ initiative to launch in the autumn offering 2,000 free factual clips for non-commercial users to download, edit and keep via broadband

***BBC Glastonbury and Olympics coverage on broadband for the first time

Speaking at the Financial Times New Media & Broadcasting Conference today, Tuesday 2 March 2004, Ashley Highfield, BBC Director of New Media & Technology, unveiled the BBC’s plans for broadband and outlined launch details for the BBC’s major broadband-enabled public service initiative, the Creative Archive.

Setting the context for the BBC’s broadband activities, Highfield stressed the benefits of broadband for the social fabric of the UK: “At a superficial level everyday tasks will be made speedier and more convenient, but on a more fundamental level broadband will allow us to place greater emphasis on community and individual contribution. A two-way broadband UK could mean a more creative, personalised, social and affluent Britain.”

Highfield claimed the BBC had a critical role to play in the growing broadband market, as it already had with the internet market and the free digital TV market: “I see the BBC’s online services having an increasingly important role to play in helping to create a 100% connected, digital Britain.” Talking about the current DCMS review of the BBC’s online activities, Highfield stated his belief in helping to create a connected, digital society: “We see a clear role for the BBC in helping to drive a broadband Britain and would like to see that reflected in the outcome of the review.”

Outlining the kind of content and services he believes the BBC needs to offer internet users in the ‘on-demand’ world to drive broadband take up, Highfield cited the roll-out of the BBC’s broadband service from Glastonbury in June and the Athens Olympics in August – both available on broadband for the first time and the Olympics a broadband world first. As well as allowing users to choose from a wide selection of broadcasts from both events, broadband technology will also enable them, at the same time as viewing, to play games, interact with other users and access facts and statistics.

Highfield also suggested that the BBC’s role in creating a broadband UK should not just be about creating compelling content, but also about developing services that make a difference to people’s daily lives. With this in mind, he revealed further details of the BBC’s major public service initiative, the Creative Archive, first announced by the former Director General, Greg Dyke, at the Edinburgh Television festival in August 2003, and enabled by broadband technology.

“The Creative Archive will give everyone in the UK the freedom to search for and access clips from the BBC’s television and radio archives via the BBC’s website,” explained Highfield. “This scheme has the potential to lead in a number of different directions and is radical in the sense that it will be largely defined by the behaviour of the people accessing the initiative. This is the BBC taking an innovation risk, but a risk that will add to the creative capital of the UK as a whole. It’s all part of the BBC providing public access to its sound, television and film archives in a way that appeals to the new generation of media consumers.”

*The first phase of the Creative Archive initiative will launch in autumn 2004 with an 18-month initiative focusing on factual radio and television content, for example natural history footage, allowing non-commercial users free access to around 2,000 clips of up to three minutes long (100 hours of content).

**People will be able to download clips free of charge from the BBC website, keep them forever, and manipulate and add to them. They will be able to pass clips on to one another and, at some point in the future, post user-generated material back on to the BBC’s website. A child might, for example, use a downloaded clip for a multi-media science project or an amateur DJ might mix a selection of BBC footage into a backdrop for a set.

***For the initial phase the BBC will concentrate on material that is fully owned by the BBC but also hopes to talk to independents and other rights holders about clearing the rights to other clips.

****If the first phase is a success, the Creative Archive will be rolled out across all genres, considerably expanding the scale and range of content on offer. As the BBC learns more about how people are accessing and using the material, the Creative Archive will grow and develop in direct response to its users.

*****The BBC will also work closely with others in the industry to share its experience and work with them to grow the quantity of audio visual material available in the public domain.


Further information and full text of speech:

Janet Morrow, BBC Publicity 020 7557 3280/07966 313693

BBC Press Office 020 8576 1865


BBCi at http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Published on: 12:00AM on 3rd March 2004