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Ben Bradshaw: Digital Economy Bill published

Alastair | 20 Nov 2009, 13:11


There’s a lot of process in politics. The Digital Economy Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. Lord Young of Norwood Green introduced it in the House of Lords yesterday (on behalf of Lord Mandelson). We published the Bill in full on the BIS website this morning.

It will be debated in the Lords, examined line by line in committee stage, debated again, amended, debated again. Then same again in the Commons. Then it plays ping pong between the Houses until the exact wording is agreed before Royal Assent is given and it becomes an Act.

That’s a lot of process. But fundamentally politics is about choices.
The choice to publish the Bill now, to get legislation on the statue books as soon as possible to make sure Britain is one of the global digital and creative leaders. The choice to tackle unlawful file sharing and other copyright complications, while others argue it’s too difficult. To open up large volumes of previously unusable ‘orphan’ content. To protect children through age markings on video games.

The choice to ensure there’s plurality of independent, impartial news on TV in the nations, locally and regionally – and a future for the public service broadcasters that people love and which provide a platform for our world-leading creative industries.

That everyone in this country has a choice to be digital, with access to high speed broadband.
With Lord Mandelson, I’ll be making sure we use the process to get the product right.

Developing Talent: Focus on Young Entrepreneur - Myke Rabar, CEO, Homeboyz Entertainment Group

Valerie | 17 Nov 2009, 09:39

C&binet ambassador comment: Boko Inyundo, Global Sector Manager, Linklaters LLP & Director/Trustee, Africa Centre

“Leadership is to go before and show the way”, a favoured definition of Dee Hock, the Founder and CEO emeritus of VISA, shared in his wonderful book ‘One from Many – VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organisation”, a quote attributed to a centuries-old Scottish dictionary.

The book is about the impressive journey behind the creation of VISA, the global company that operates the world’s largest retail electronic payment network. However, the absorbing and profound aspect of this book is the author’s philosophical reflection on the institutional transformation that was necessary in enabling such a new form of organisation to emerge from the traditional establishment that is the global banking system. VISA was at that time, circa 1969, a new, trans-cultural organisation that balanced cooperation and competition, blended chaos and order and evolved a business model that productively dealt with complexity, diversity and change on a global scale.

There are myriad means of drawing correlations with Dee Hock’s experience in founding VISA and the evolving challenges and opportunities presented by today’s increasingly digital, global and culturally diverse world and the impact of a seemingly inexorable momentum of innovation across multiple arenas including the creative economy.
However, to illustrate what I mean here I purposefully opt not to tell you yet another tale behind the well publicised creation of such major global companies such as Google, Facebook or Spotify. Instead I share with you a more humble, yet for me as a person of mixed Kenyan and British heritage, equally inspiring story about a young Kenyan entrepreneur named Myke Rabar and the relatively nascent growth of his Nairobi-based media company, Homeboyz Entertainment Group.

Myke Rabar and Homeboyz Entertainment’s journey began in 1992 when a small group of music lovers got together to form a small organized DJ-ing outfit. There dream was to give the Entertainment Industry (which hardly existed at the time in Kenya) a fun-filled experience that audiences would always remember. With start-up capital of Kenya Shillings 40,000 (in today’s exchange rate circa £300 GBP) obtained through personal savings, the group initially rented equipment from other suppliers in order to entertain at events such as small house parties or weddings. After paying off the suppliers, the profit from such events was continually re-invested into the company and, in so doing, the group managed to start buying its own equipment. Thus this collective began to lay the foundations for what has now become an inspirational example of the potential for entrepreneurs in Africa’s creative economy.

Homeboyz Entertainment is now East & Central Africa’s biggest and most influential multi-media Entertainment Company, a Vivendi or Walt Disney-equivalent on the African continent. Employing over 40 dedicated staff, Homeboyz Entertainment Group now consists of a portfolio of companies: a DJ agency; a music technology academy; an events organisation; studios; a record label; a radio station; a TV station; an experiential marketing company and advertising production outfit; an acclaimed animation company; as well as, most recently, a company that bottles and retails mineral water!

Notably the growing global profile of this Entertainment group was evidenced in 2008/09 after ‘Tinga Tinga Tales’, a unique 52-episode animated series produced by UK independent television production company Tiger Aspect in association with Homeboyz Entertainment, was commissioned by CBeebies in the UK and Playhouse Disney in the US. In this groundbreaking collaboration, Tiger Aspect partnered with Homeboyz Entertainment to set up the first fully equipped animation studio in Kenya employing local designers, writers, musicians and animators. Based on African folk stories, ‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ now entertains children on a television near you as well as all over the world, telling how children’s favorite animals came to be. Why Lion Roars, Why Crocodile Has A Bumpy Back and Hippo Has No Hair are just a few of the episodes in the series.

This growth from a core business (DJ-ing) to a successful group structure consisting of a portfolio of creative products/interests is testament to a lot of hard work as well as belief in the inherent artistic and dynamic qualities of creative talent in East and Central Africa. The widely acknowledged achievements of Myke Rabar and Homeboyz Entertainment are all the more compelling in that the successes have been delivered in a developing economy such as Kenya. Such economies are yet to fully benefit from such critical contextual influences such as: the levels of technological investments seen in the West (e.g broadband infrastructure investments); the relatively large advertising spend by Corporates seen in developed economies; the relatively high discretionary income of, for example, US consumers; and the less evolved regulatory framework in Africa as compared to Europe or the UK, for example, where those generating or funding the development of creative products enjoy higher degrees of protection over their creative assets.

The success and sustainability of a creative business such as Homeboyz Entertainment is clearly increasingly dependent on the creative partnerships that, with the growing influence of technology, can now be forged by collaborating with artists, investors, producers, distributors, employees, clients and consumers at a global level. As per Dee Hock’s reflections, Myke is already exploring the potential behind cross-cultural creativity and balancing the complementary forces of cooperation and competition.

As the protracted global recessionary climate influences all communities to, I believe mistakenly, err on implementing more parochial strategies in a vain attempt to ensure survival, I hope that leaders/institutions emerge from the current economic crisis with an even clearer sense of the inherent strengths of a global collective spirit. Rather than solely trading with existing partners in developed economies, creative industry executives in the major economies such as the US and Europe should follow in the footsteps of, in this case, Tiger Aspect by listening attentively to the many ‘voices’ of artists and entrepreneurs like Myke in Africa whose inspiration needs to be met by a global creative industry that’s willing to believe in them and buy their skills/products at fair global commercial rates. Like Barack Obama, the US President of Kenyan descent, who mobilised popular support across different communities and campaigned with a philosophy that encouraged us all to believe that ‘yes, we can’ make change happen, for many members of the global African Diaspora’s creative community and beyond, leaders like Myke are living proof of the ‘audacity of hope’.

If “leadership is to go before and show the way”, then Myke and Homeboyz Entertainment are, especially in the context of Africa and its attendant challenges, up there in front showing a generation of young Africans the way to a sustainable future in the global creative economy. Like the mineral water bottling company that Myke’s recently acquired, this is a truly refreshing narrative which, given he’s only in his late 30’s, has only just begun!

In a video-led world we all need to be creators

Andrew | 13 Nov 2009, 11:21

C&binet partner comment: by Sarah Platt, UK Director of Kinura Web Video

Sarah Platt, at c&binet forum 2009

With copyright debates abounding at last week’s c&binet Forum, there was also, unsurprisingly, much talk of online video content. The conference itself was streamed live (view the archived footage), and the virtual audience could feed comments and questions to the panel on stage through twitter (#cabinetforum), allowing them not only to ‘follow’ but to participate, opening up global access to anyone unable to attend. This is just one example of organisations and brands using digital media to keep their audiences engaged. Through the evolution of social networking and video sharing sites, more and more consumers expect to be able to access content in real time to inform the online debate, creating new business opportunities for those specialising in delivering events via the web.

Creative consumers have now become producers, sharing comments, images and snippets of film: creating their own discussions. In this instantaneous environment where rich media just gets richer, there is an immense opportunity to educate and to learn online.

The amount of video based educational content out there already is vast. You may already know of Teacher’s TV, Discovery Education, TED and Open Learn from the Open University. And then there are all the education channels on YouTube, plus online courses being offered by arts organisations like Tate and the British Museum.

But we need to remember that the rise of video communications demands that individuals become skilled creators. Younger people may be less camera-shy than their predecessors, but there is still a need for investment in training adults and children alike to communicate effectively using software, recording equipment and webTV applications so they can tell their stories and make an impact in a world where immediacy, ‘findability’ and attention grabbing is everything.

Some of you may remember the days when ‘video based learning’ meant gathering around a bulky TV that had just been wheeled into the classroom so you could get your weekly fix of a BBC schools programme. Now imagine the TV wheeled into your classroom showed a programme that listened, talked back and had more than one possible ending depending on what you wanted to know. Oh – and then you could shrink it, put it in your pocket and watch it whenever suited you. You might have paid more attention in class. 

There’s a lot of research out there which suggests that computer based learning is very effective in terms of increasing people’s ability to retain information. But what really excites me about this area is the potential use of interactive feedback, live video links between tutors and their students, online collaboration through applications like scribblar and beyond that into potential applications for linking up real-time medical monitoring devices or biometric information. Imagine the latest research in life saving treatments being delivered instantaneously to a doctor working in a remote village where she or he may previously have had to travel miles to gain such essential information.

We have a great opportunity in the UK to tap into the wealth of information online, to build on the talent we already have and find talent in new places through digital inclusion. We should make our ‘creative industries’ a part of every day life so that we all have the chance to be creators.
Interactive video based learning, and the flexibility and access to instant education that it offers, makes for a better-informed life. Just as investment in creativity makes for a more interesting one.

c&binet comment - interviews from ‘the fringe’

Nick | 09 Nov 2009, 16:27

The c&binet programme included a wide range of discussions, debates and workshops as part of the ‘c&binet fringe’.

We spoke to some of the people behind some of these sessions about the chosen topics and you can listen to the interviews here:

1. Music Manager Peter Jenner and Fred Bolza of Sony BMG discuss the question “who owns the customer?” Click here to download Who’s customer is it - Peter Jenner and Fred Bolza.mp3

2. Angela Whelan and Jon Teckman of Ashridge Business School explain the specific challenges of developing business leaders for the creative industries Click here to download JonTeckman Angela Whelan.mp3

3. Harish Dayani of Moser Baer Entertainment describes how Indian business attempted to outmanoeuvre the pirates Click here to download Harish Dayani.mp3

4. Clare Reddington of iShed and Pervasive Media Studio talks about creative collaboration between technologists, academics and creatives Click here to download Clare Reddington.mp3

c&binet hits the headlines

Valerie | 09 Nov 2009, 16:17

It’s only been two weeks since the inaugural c&binet forum and the widespread media coverage generated in the build up, during and post event indicates that interest has certainly not died down. 

Although much of the media spotlight was on Lord Mandelson’s announcement in which he introduced tough new measures to combat persistent illegal filesharing, there were a number of other themes that also came through in the numerous pieces of print, online and blog coverage and indeed, via the live Twitterfeed, where, at one stage, #cabinetforum trended at number three in the top 10 most popular Twitter tags.

Media headlines from Government committed to upholding copyright laws to “c&binet conference: Advertising the key” and “c@binet Forum showed that the UK games industry is leading the way in creativity and in business innovation” illustrate the diversity of discussions that took place during the three days, which ranged from the IP and copyright debate to the future of TV and new business models.

There was overriding consensus on the exciting opportunities afforded by the shifting landscape in which “content is king” and “consumers are in control” in this new digital world. As the Guardian reported, Simon Fuller argued that there is still room for many players in the emerging digital media market, whilst Ariadne Capital’s Julie Meyer proclaimed that “content is the new software”, a welcome message surely for many.

The #cabinetforum twitter feed is perhaps even more revealing in understanding reaction to the event and the issues discussed from the audience and those following in cyberspace. Feedback ranged from “c&binet: looks like the place to be today” to “user/audience generated content - live. Interesting to hear” and “c&binet, an historic event, one we need 2 build on - internationalising the big challenge & big opportunity”. It was also good to hear that “Twitter was a great part of #cabinetforum” – it hopefully provided a platform for enabling open and honest discussion in addition to the live updates from the event, enabling people from as far afield as Vietnam and India to listen and participate in the event.

To quote Gamesbrief, c&binet was certainly an excellent start at getting the creative industries to talk to each other about new ways of collaborating and the lessons learned will no doubt pave the way for further discussion about the future of c&binet and its evolving agenda.

Media & blog coverage:

Two weeks until the ‘Cabinet Forum’...
Creative Times, published 15.10.09

Coutts backs C&binet
Music Week, published: 20.10.09

Strike one to c&binet proposals
Music Week, published 07.11.09

c&binet conference: Advertising the key, says Highfield
Media Week, published: 27.10.09 – 1:23pm

C&binet Conference: Government committed to upholding copyright laws
Media Week, published: 27.10.09 – 2:45pm

@ c&binet: Creative Industries So Far Divided On The Way Ahead
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 6.15 am

@c&binet: Free Content Must Pack a Paid Punch
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 8:29pm

@ c&binet: Vivendi Wants UK ‘Three-Strikes’, Mandelson Announcement Due Wednesday
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 2:45pm

Consider charging for iPlayer, says ex-BBC executive Ashley Highfield
Guardian, published: 27.10.09 – 1:56pm

David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection
Guardian, published: 27.10.09 – 4:50pm

EMI’s Leoni-Sceti Calls For ‘Three Strikes’ Law
Billboard, published: 27.10.09

Government calls on Europe to clear up copyright
Music Week, published: 27.10.09 - 10:10am

The promise of Creative Britain
Wired UK, published: 27.10.09

Vivendi head calls for ‘three-strikes’ rule to tackle UK filesharers
Guardian,published: 27.10.09 - 12:07pm

Vivendi CEO says IPO an option for NBC Universal
Reuters, published: 27.10.09 – 7:19pm BJT

c&binet conference: Mandelson reveals ‘three strikes’ rule on illegal downloading
Media Week, published: 28.10.09

Cabinet Forum showed that the UK games industry is leading the way in creativity and in business innovation
Games Brief, published: 28.10.09

Content is king in digital age, says Simon Fuller
Guardian, published: 28.10.09 – 07:21 am

Costs would exceed savings on Mandelson plan, ISPs say - and streaming companies not eager either
Guardian – Technology Blog, published: 28.10.09

Julie Meyer: “Content is the New Software”
Real Business, published: 28.10.09

Mandelson puts ‘three strikes’ internet plan in motion
ZD Net, published: 28.10.09 – 05:38 pm,1000000097,39843951,00.htm

Music boss: Mandelson is wrong on internet pirates
Times Online, published: 28.10.09

Net Pirates to be ‘disconnected’
BBC, published: 28.10.09

TV of the future ‘will predict what you want to watch’
Telegraph, published: 28.10.09 – 8:00 am

UK Will Urge EC To Legalise Mashups, Format-Shifting, Content Sharing
PaidContent, published: 28.10.09 – 12.48 pm

Cost of Mandelson plan would come to more than savings
Broadband Expert, published: 29.10.09

Government to protect ‘creative’ contractors
Brookson, published: 29.10.09

Illegal downloaders face web ban
Press Association, published: 29.10.09

Is the internet heading for a midlife crisis as it hits its 40th birthday?SC Magazine
SC Magazine, published: 29.10.09

JP Rangaswami on Lord Mandelson’s piracy plans
Telegraph, published: 29.10.09

Mandelson delivers on three-strikes warning. But will it make Pirates pay, or drive them underground?
Daily Mail, published: 29.10.09

Peter Mandelson goes to war on web pirates
Daily Mail, published: 29.10.09

Saving local journalism: some thoughts ahead of C&binet
Onlinejournalism Blog, published: 29.10.09

TalkTalk Threatens Legal Action Over Mandelson’s File-Sharing Strategy
eWeek Europe, published: 29.10.09

C&binet fever
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

C&binet Commentary
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

C&binet Creative Infrastructure Thoughts
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

Disruption and curiosity: #outofthecloset unconference
Pervasive Media Studio, published: 28.10.09

A c&binet unconference
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 29.10.09





The c&binet ‘unconference’

Nick | 06 Nov 2009, 11:16

One of the most difficult aspects of creating c&binet forum was the need for a programme that would unite a broad range of people from across the creative spectrum. C&binet’s diversity (though not always manifesting itself on the main stage) was its greatest strength and its biggest challenge.

Complementing the main sessions was a series of fringe events, to allow us to introduce a wider range of topics for discussion and help attendees make best use of their time. We asked ourselves every day whether we’d done enough to ensure c&binet suited all tastes and requirements.

c&binet unconference, c&binet forum 2009

The answer is that we hadn’t, but in one sense, it didn’t matter. C&binet forum ended up providing a practical demonstration of the diminished role of the content gatekeeper in the digital age.
While on-stage, people were discussing the power of the internet to mobilise communities to create their own content and find their own audiences, off-stage, delegates were using Twitter to do just that. Towards the end of the second day, using the hashtag #outofthecloset, an “unconference” sprang-up in the foyer, for some of the delegates to debate what issues mattered most to them.

c&binet unconference, c&binet forum 2009

c&binet unconference, c&binet forum 2009

Most of the unconference attendees represented smaller companies, for whom the debate about IP protection taking place in the main hall was perhaps less relevant (although part of the discussion at c&binet was about how to streamline the copyright system, so that start-ups could license the use of content more quickly and easily) or design companies, for whom this year’s theme of “nurturing creative content in the digital age” had relatively little to offer. It was a fascinating and lively discussion and impressively organised, with the group quickly split in to subgroups to address two key questions: ‘what do we want from government?’ and ‘what do we want from c&binet?’ The emphasis was placed on practical solutions, such as early-stage legal advice on the copyright system for start-ups.

You can read summaries of the discussions by Jaya Chakrabarti from Nameless here and Claire Reddington from Pervasive Media Studio here.

An undoubted highlight of c&binet 2009, the unconference underlined the potential of the creative industries to work together to shape the future of the creative economy. The c&binet team will now investigate how we can reflect the issues highlighted in the future c&binet programme.

c&binet unconference, c&binet forum 2009

c&binet unconference, c&binet forum 2009

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