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Yo, public media, remember the rest of us (Beyond Broadcast II)


Continuing a provocative afternoon of discussion here at bb08 (warning as-live blogging, errors ahead)
Larry Irving: Please don’t sell out, I think there’s got to be a commercial space and a noncommercial space. Having worked in politics in Washington, I can tell you: there is no such thing as free money. Anyone who gives you money wants something, even more so if you happen to be producing media. I’m a lawyer, I live in an upscale zipcode, Look at the CPM for black radio stations vs. country and western; some people are valued differently. Let’s talk turkey about demographics. Public broadcasting does not reflect the demographic changes in the U.S. Media age of audience is 46, media age of country is 36, media age of Latinos is 26. Riff on Dean Wilson’s comment of yesterday: Actually pubcasting serves all people from ages 1-7 but if you’re black or brown they don’t even care about you when you hit 47.

Technology matters too. If you’re not on mobile platforms, you won’t reach the young and the non-white. Mentions slingbox, watching Tiger Woods on the Metro. Says it’s not “new” media, it’s just media. New survey says: 76% of kids would give up TV before the Internet. People of color use more media of all kinds than whites, even corrected for income. Simultaneous technology revolution in all countries.

Dennis Harsaager has given him hope that perhaps the stations are not going to (by booting CEO Ken Stern) stop NPR from dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Also talks about trusted public sources for e.g., health information. He’s a former cancer patient (me too – it’s that weird club that you’re never really happy to find another member). Irving hopes that the president will bring smart people together to talk about technology and democracy and media and NOT about money. We need to get public institutions (is this being webcast? Are Obama advisors watching?) together with the best technological minds.

Question from Pat Aufderheide: What are the chances of getting legislative language changed to allow public media funding to be spent on digital stuff? Irving: You gotta make the case, but I think you can and should.

Question audience member: what about access issues? Pub’casting is so moribund in their approach to interactivity. Irving: Now that we’re in the age of abundance we have to talk to people in power, in congress and we need to explain to them what we could be doing with a little bit of vision. The system

Q: What about spending the income from the analog spectrum auction? A: The $19 billion we got from the last auction unfortunately went into general funds. We do need a way to fund public broadcasting. Even if we’d gone to a TV tax, we’d need to redo it anyway, how do we create an endowment that is politically insulated.

We have angry old white men (right-wing talk radio), angry young white men (left-wing blogosphere) – where are the black and brown men?

We need for the white space on the spectrum to be available for experimentation, Google and Microsoft have an interest in the white space too, why don’t we work with them?

Q: We see a talent drain of Hispanic producers to commercial media. I worry that the experiments that funders are interested are all about form, what about content? Diversity can’t be outsourced. But my question to you is about what I see young people being less siloed off by race, working towards multicultural content (and life). (applause) Irving: I agree 100%. Diversity needs to be in the organization’s DNA. We need to mainstream (though I hate the word) producers of color.

Huge applause – Irving was an inspired choice of speaker. I do worry that after a self-criticism session like this a reception that apparently will not include alcohol is ill-advised.

David Isenberg points out that we’re getting open fiber architecture experiments we need to get our act together there too because “fiber is the future.”

Quick demo of the uuorld interactive mapping site (it’s world spelled with 2 u’s in place of the ‘w’ get it?)

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