To those that worked in the ivory television towers of the late 20th Century the encroaching loss of control over TV content must feel like the barbarians at the gate. However the battle for influence and control has always been there. British politician Tony Benn foreshadowed many of the current changes in a speech he made in 1968.
“Broadcasting is really too important to be left to the broadcasters, and somehow we must find a new way of using radio and television to allow us to talk to each other. We’ve got to fight all over again the same battles that we fought centuries ago to get rid of the licence to print and the same battles to establish representative broadcasting in place of the benevolent paternalism by the constitutional monarchs who reside in the palatial Broadcasting House.”
Four decades later Conservative politician George Osborne acknowledged that control of the media and the message was now changing hands. “With all these profound changes …and the rise of user-generated content, we are seeing the democratisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange…People are no longer prepared to sit and be spoon fed. ”
Given their paramount need to communicate with the voters the politicians are able sometimes to see and understand the changes long before those that operate within rapidly changing media circles. Barack Obama’s election is the proof that UGC and social media is now high up on every political campaign agenda.