Don't get me wrong - I love iView. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is leading the charge when it comes to getting all my favourite programs onto my mobile devices. Made even better by the fact that my ISP gives me free bandwidth to watch iView. iView has just been adapted across to the Android platform.
But one thing is missing - the revenue model. This all works fine when you're getting paid for by the taxpayer. I'm certainly getting my money's worth. But as far as adapting the free to air model to mobile devices iView does not advance the cause much.
Currently iView is all paid for by "inside money" - like when your young son wants to save for a computer and asks if he can do some jobs for you to make money. It's all coming out of your pocket. Not the same as when your daughter gets a job in a pasta shop, or older son gets a job collecting glasses in a pub. At some point you have to grow up and earn some outside money.
I don't want the ABC to go commercial, but let's not kids ourselves. iView is like the ABC wearing its daddy's toolbelt and pretending it's a carpenter.
Recently a caller said this on a call into the Sydney "Mornings" program last week:
Caller Steve: I’m – my birthday’s today. I’ve been listening to the ABC for nearly 50 years and I worked for the ABC in the ‘70s. So I think what today’s all about is a re-focus. You know, Quentin Dempster’s been on your program a while ago. Quentin Dempster’s on nearly $300,000 a year and he produces one program a week. Is that a fair reflection of spending money well? I don’t think so.
I listen to Radio National in the morning, the Breakfast with Fran Kelly. She’s got a listening audience of what? One or two per cent across the nation and she’s got nine producers working on the substance of the story. And I just think that things need to be re-focused in the ABC and they’d be accountable for the dollars that you spend.
I love my ABC. And it's great value. But as good as it is, it it's currently not subject to the same pressures as the other media outlets. I'll be interested to see how the players in the commercial media will go in their efforts to commercialise digital content. For them it's survival, not just an interesting diversion.
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