The other day, I went to a talk by someone called Michael Bayler. He outlined how the value chain within the media has just disintegrated over the last couple of years, and how - until recently - fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCGs) could expect their sales to go up in some kind of direct correlation with their advertising or brand spend. Now, he said, it's not unusual for a 100% increase in spend to result in only a 1% increase in sales.
Someone else (Ross Sleight of Virgin Games I think?) quoted in-house BBC strategists who claim that - by 2011 - only two events could expect to attract over 10m viewers (a royal wedding or a World Cup Final involving England). Bearing in mind that 110 programmes cleared the 10m viewership mark in 1994, this illustrates the fragmentation of the mass media.
None of this is earth-shattering info of course. Both speakers were there to provide their audience with a primer rather than any deep insider info.
But there is one angle to this that I'd be interested in exploring. I've argued in an earlier post that the big structural problem that those of us with an interest in public policy should be addressing is centralisation. And that this centralisation is largely a direct result of the way that the mass media aggregate and simplify lots of small issues into a handful of fictional narratives, each with their own respective bunch of Aunt Sallies.
Where The Rovers Return and Annie's Bar become largely interchangeable.
But if the mass media is going to continue to change in this way, is it going to alter the centralising trajectory that government has been travelling on since the late 1950s? And does this provide Andrew with a suggestion about a constructive role for the blogosphere?
I'm not going to hazard an answer to this at the moment, but it's worth thinking about, isn't it?
Apropos of this, I've gone on a bit in the past about Digital Rights and how everything is changing. Here's a few posts from Bowblog that are worth a look:
Three from BowBlog:
Have a look, whydoncha?