21 October 02004

Pressure building for access to BBC radio archives

A month after Ofcom's mutterings about enforced licensing of the BBC's radio archive, a new report commissioned by DCMS concludes "The BBC should examine how it can enter into joint ventures with the commercial sector when considering future archive-based services." The message seems to be that if the BBC isn't making active use of its archive, it should make it possible for others to do something with it. (And the report goes on: "the lack of any formal relationship between the BBC governors and Ofcom… is a problem.")

There's a certain inevitability about this. As convergence comes to fruition, the digital world has a hell of a lot of frequencies, bandwidth and disk storage to use up (cf. an iPod is an "empty beer glass waiting to be filled") . On the other hand, there's a massive pile of historically and culturally exciting stuff hanging around doing nothing. It's natural that policy makers and regulators should want to get this material to an audience one way or another.

This is an acutely sensitive issue at a sensitive time for the BBC. As anticipated in my previous posting on the BBC's digital direction, they need both to conjure a seductive vision of potential archive offerings, and to position themselves so that they are central to delivery of this vision. In this light, reports that the first pilot of the BBC Creative Archive may be too little too late must seem a bit worrying.

Posted by David Jennings in section(s) BBC, Curatorial, Music and Multimedia on 21 October 02004 | TrackBack

why can't the bbc let the public hear the Royal Variety Performances that were broadcast before the show was televised. During the 1950's the show was recorded so the listners would hear it the following Sunday afternoon. Have the tapes disintergrated? Have they been destroyed? There is a lot of show business history on those recordings. BBC Open up the archives. Let the public hear them. Even better purchase them.

Posted by: frank smith on 1 November 02006 at 11:11 PM

I recall a number of Home Service or Light Programme music broadcasts from the early 1960s about Portuguese and Brazilian music, and wonder if these are available to download from BBC archives. Also I missed the last episode of 'Dark Rising' in 1968: How did it end?

Posted by: Jeff Clarke on 7 February 02008 at 12:27 PM

Does anyone out there know of an accessible source of Radio Times North Region back numbers from the early 1950s, and a way of searching for data in them? I have tried Kelly Books but they are not able to undertake such a search unless I can supply a smaller date range than Dec 1951 to May 1954.

Posted by: Jane Cooper on 10 March 02009 at 10:10 PM
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