Mining archive still cause for uncertainty

IF the challenge to broadcasters is to make money out of its back catalogue – including over a million hours held by the BBC alone – it remains to be seen exactly how.

At the Edinburgh International TV Festival, at an event under the general title, Digital Homes: On Demand or Over-Hyped?, BSKyB’s James Baker even admitted he “genuinely didn’t know how to monetise content”.

But it wasn’t personal ignorance the managing director of Sky Interactive was admitting to, but a recognition that selling content across various platforms, such as through mobile telephones and the internet, is still in its infancy.

“Not even at the start line,” added Baker, who was joined by in a panel discussion by, among others, Andy Taylor, managing director, Channel 4 New Media.

First, there are rights issues to be resolved before archive can be put up for sale, many contracts Byzantine and agreed long before the onset of new media.

In an earlier session, under the same banner, but specifically on rights, Anthony Lilley, chief executive of Magic Lantern Productions, said the issue of who gets what when a piece of TV appears on a different platform had yet to settle into an accepted, established structure – in contrast to how the music industry carves up payments for repeat performances.