Do I need a TV anymore?




Other than for the prurience of watching Tina’s come uppance on Corrie. I have not engaged with terrestrial TV for some time. Phone and laptop in hand I have found all I needed on the Monaco Grand Prix, Matisse in Nice and UKIP’s exploits in the European elections.

A quick glance at Outlook on my iphone told me on Tuesday morning that I was booked into a session at the Soho offices of Cicero consulting to hear a breakfast  discussion on the impact of social media on the news cycle.

My attention had been caught by a guest who used to be News Editor at the BBC- Richard Sambrook. On the other side of the debate was the UK Political Editor of Buzzfeed (whatever that might be).

My ignorance of Buzzfeed turned out to be a personal embarassment. Like @Vice, @Buzzfeed is popular with da yout. As the amiable editor put it , it’s their to make intelligent people laugh.

Quite why has a political and business desk wasn’t immediately apparent but inspection of the @buzz twitter feed brought to my attention the fact that the political editor of Sky News had been caught live saying “f**king hell” as his report was interrupted by the striking of Big Ben.

In fact almost all the political and news items were about either social or broadcast media which led me to think that at this stage of its development, Buzz is very much about being Buzz, as Clive Anderson recently remarked  “we do because we can” and (as with Smashed Students), the joy of Buzz appears to be that it’s not Sky, BBC24 or Al Jazeera.

However BBC big-wig James Harding and someone called Sir Howard Stringer and the New York Post, have all been reported suggesting that unless television journalism gets wise to Buzz and Vice and the like, they will look as dead in the water as the Times and other papers who cannot translate the brand into the digital world.

Which alarmed me because I find useful and I’m guessing the economic model for supporting it crumbles if people like me are spending all their time online and not paying the licence fee. If – as Buzz argued – their is mass civil disobedience among the under 30s and no-one is paying their licence fee, these clever youngsters must have worked out they are gaming the authorities to check their IP addresses. Since the balls are down their end of the court- I’d see this as a smart call/

Buzz had 5 people in the UK at the start of the year, now it’s five times that, they are soon to take on space enough for 150. The question on my mind is that if they are the portal for news for da yout, are they interested in me knocking on the door.

I asked the question and was told where to go. I don’t see Buzz or Vice running any stories about the importance of spending on your retirement any time soon. Maybe I’ll get my ferral  Australian Gen Y’er on the case. Vivi Friedgut may have the where with all, or that smart student Josh Collins for that matter.

But listening to what was said , I drew three conclusions

  1. I cannot wait for the ten o’clock news or even for 24 news, I do not want to be dished up opinion by Newsnight and for my opinion to change, the BBC must look outward
  2. Like Buzz, I value success on the number of visitors I get from twitter and Facebook (and in my case Linked-in). Organic views from subscribers to my blogs are fine but it’s the outreach that matters.
  3. The whole press release/PR model is broken. There is an opportunity for someone to harness the new digital players but just about everyone seems to be behind the curve.

I suspect that I have just turned over a rock to find it teeming with wildlife I know nothing about and which scare me silly. Go and check out @buzzfeed and @vice and see what you think, they’re a step up from @smashedstudents but will they rival @bbcnews24 and overtake them?

The day they do is the day I cancel my direct debit for my TV licence.


This article first appeared at

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Do I need a TV anymore?

  1. David says:

    Da yout grow up. Every generation does and expects things differently.

    What was once cool to do isn’t any more, and the new yout want something different again.

    Welcome to the social media “bubble”, powered by a generation that will soon be working and paying mortgages and pension contributions, starting families and doing DIY on a weekend, and no longer spending their teenage years and early 20’s stuck to their social media sites with little else better to do.

    There is still life in ‘conventional’ news yet!

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