BBC's new media director outlines broadband vision

MUMBAI: The BBC director of new media and technology, Ashley Highfield, has outlined the corporation's vision for a broadband Britain.

Highfield has called upon the collaboration and co-operation of the UK government and industry to avoid a digital underclass. Delivering the keynote speech at the Broadband Britain Summit, Highfield described broadband as a new era in the world of content delivery, and explained that the BBC was already working on an on-demand strategy that would use the potential of broadband to deliver its content in new ways.

He added that a higher speed of connection could offer both the BBC and the UK media industry new ways of involving audiences and providing them with choice.

"The BBC sees broadband as a means of enabling us to place greater emphasis on community and individuals' contribution. It will open up new ways to involve people in civic process and institutions. Let us create personalised learning tools and tailored services for minority groups, as well as enabling more convenient way to watch and listen to our programmes and services."

However, Highfield stressed that the BBC alone could not drive broadband take up. The UK government and industry will need to work together more closely if they were to surmount the three key barriers to broadband adoption: affordability, accessibility and awareness.

The BBC could play a key role in helping to drive broadband, said Highfield, through its high-quality original content, as well as its rich archive of programmes. But a fully connected digital Britain could only be achieved through collaboration and co-operation.

In order to explain his point, Highfield called for key players to initiate a digital literacy campaign in 2005 "to target those members of society who might find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide".

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