The 7hr+ documentary smash hit

About 1.4 million people watched Bergensbanen, a 7hr+ documentary about the 126-year-old rail line, when it was first aired late November. With the re-runs this Christmas, and the option to download it free of charge under a Creative Commons license, I imagine that number will be much higher by now (see Wired's recent story about the documentary here).

For my part, I thought it was a spectacular show, even if it "clocks is at almost 7.5hrs", as Wired put it. There was a lot of buzz on Twitter about it when it first ran, but I only had a chance to see it this Christmas. It is a long trainraide, but it must be one of my favourite trainroutes ever, and it's fascinating to see how much the landscape change from the jagged mountains surrounding Bergen on the Westcoast, travelling over the mountain moorlands of Hardangervidda, so often covered in snow, to the soft rolling hills as you go further east and eventually end up in the citiscape of Oslo. And it's all filmed in HD, which these few shots from my most recent trip on Bergensbanen definently are not. On second thoughts: better go to Wired and download the whole documentary there, my Netbook is so slow now I won't attempt any more uploads than this, which is not really what I planned to upload.


Is this the future of public service media?

Could it be that the future of public service media is a kind of platform, rather than the current crop of public service entities - which are all essentially channels?

The question is posed by Steve Bowbrick, recently appointed blogger-in-residence by BBC. For the next six months he'll be exploring how to make the broadcaster's site more open, as well as work on the Common Platform project (via - which in certain ways is reminiscent of some of the stuff the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) is working on. Here's Bowbrick:

So what I’m talking about is building a big, generous, accommodating public platform that runs code and community and content - making life easier for creators and communities in Britain. A kind of giant shared computer that exposes useful assets like public data, educational content, archives and library catalogues, health data and democratic and community tools…

The whole range of useful and enabling content and services that comes from state providers like the BBC, the Ordnance Survey and the Public Records Office and also the good stuff that comes from the commercial and third sectors. A national public service platform like this would be a public good, a freely accessible toolset, meeting place and notice-board. People would use it to tell stories about all the big issues: the drama about free content and software, health service reform, access to public data, surveillance and health records, copyright, immigration, educational standards, content ratings for kids’ media, community access, capacity building for excluded groups and all the rest.

The reason this reminded me of some of the stuff NRK is working on was two or threefold.


First, I read it just after reading a piece in Dagens Naerinsgliv about the controversy over Yr. no - the successful weather portal NRK has created based on data from the public Norwegian Metereorologial Institute. It is controversial because the weather site has been such a big success in terms of online traffic that commercial competitors have whispered in hushed, and not so hushed tones, about unfair advantages. Nonthesame, this kind of "consumer portals", based on data from public institutions, is something Norway's public broadcaster only intends to do more of.


"We are working to develop more services with other public institutions in the same vein to make information more available, based on our public mandate," the head of NRKs online division, Bjarne Andre Myklebust, told me in an earlier interview (Norwegian link). “I believe all public broadcasters more and more think along the lines that it is a competitive advantage that they can deliver content without charging it for it,” he said in another interview (English link).


The question is whether this is I an unfair competitive advantage, as many of NRKs competitors think, and perhaps whether we need this particular form of "public good" in a world where both information and the means to publish and/or broadcast it are more available than ever before? I'd welcome your thoughts.


This "public good" approach does however remind me of when I worked for NRK Drama, and a person called the division to make an appointment for borrowing some film cameras because "NRK, being a public broadcaster, did make all its equipment available to the public, didn't it?"  After all, this person said, she was paying for this particular public service via her NRK-license and needed the equipment to make a documentary...

SVT hopes live online broadcasts will force PC-owners to pay license fee

Sweden's public broadcaster (SVT) is about to start making all its programmes available in real-time online, a project it is hoped will result in a massive increase in license fee payers.

Eva Hamilton, the head of Sweden's public broadcaster (SVT), told Sweden's Radio (SR) the logical consequence of SVT making all its content available online should be that the license fee no longer would be tied up to whether or not a household had a TV, but be extended to all PC-owners. Danish politicians have recently discussed similar measures to ease the financial woes of the country's public broadcaster.

Frozen Pizza with Champagne and the World's laziest Anarchy

How do you attract the biggest possible audience online?

Schibsted-owned VG's recipe is to give people the diet they had no idea they craved. Norway's public broadcaster, NRK, wants to make it easier for lazy users to take shortcuts.

I forgot to link up this piece I wrote a while back on these two different strategies for gaining the biggest possible online audience. I think comparing these strategies is interesting for two reasons:

1) is Norway's most read news site while was one of, if not the, fastest riser(s) on TNS Gallup's list of the country's top ten most used websites last year (five of which currently are news sites).

2) To my mind, these strategies represent two very different takes on serendipity, and it will be interesting to see which of these will be more successful in the long run - as more and more people spend more and more time on the web.

The article is based on this debate, and this blog post's headline is the headline none of my editors, perhaps for obvious reasons, would allow me to use (admittedly, I ditched it myself for the piece I'm linking up here).

NB: I'm using PublicBroadcasting as a tag for the first time on this post. It's far from the first time I've written on public broadcasting, but I've got a huge job to do in terms of re-tagging my posts to make the tags more accurate and consistent (never inteded to write about media when I started this blog in 2005 you see, so need to tidy up those tags on a day I've got aons of time to spend)