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They are locking away our history

May 13th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I am a big fan of radio. As regular readers will know I think it is the coming media And my favourite station is BBC Radio 4. For variety, production values, imagination and innovation, radio doen’t come better. Sometimes I listen live but mostly I listen on the web based iPlayer. The iPlayer makes programmes available for up to a week after they have been broadcast.

Yesterday I listened to “Will you still love me tomorrow.” This was a brilliant history / social commentary on the girl groups of the late 1950s and 1960s. It is a fascinating programme telling not only of the influence of these groups on the evolution of music and especially the influence of the girl groups on the Beatles, but of the social impact in terms of identities. For the first time women talked directly of their feelings and sexuality. And many of the women were black at a time when in the USA black musicians still were restricted by the colour bar. At a time when music in the USA tended to be dominated by local bands with different musicians producing cover versions of the same song in different states, the girl bands achieved national (and international) status.

This was a great history programme, exploring a subject which has previosuly been forgotten. It has the power to inform our thinking of the past and of the future of culture and society. But in a few days it will be gone, removed from the iPlayer and consigned to an unaccessable archive. This is ridiculous. It is as if a book was published and placed in libraries – only for all copies to be withdrawn after a week.

It is not only the BBC’s fault. They, as much as anyone else, are the victims of the stupid copyright laws. But surely the BBC can do more to support open access. Yes – I know that it is perfectly possible to record programmes – if you are prepared to break the law and have a little bit of knowhow (I have recorded this programme). But may people do not know how to do this and anyway may not stumble on the programme during the one week window of availability.

Surely something can be done. It is not just a question of open educational reources – this is our history which is being locked away.

NB Don’t forget to listen while the programme is still available.

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One Response to “They are locking away our history”

  1. A really pit I can’t download it on to my ipod. It would make the back-home-bus-ride more interesting!
    I am sure BBC can do better. I hope they will read this post!

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